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Byju’s snaps up online exam prep platform: Here’s a look at all its acquisitions so far

The edutech startup continues to diversify its portfolio, spending around $2.2 billion just this year.

Byju’s has made its eighth acquisition this year of an online exam preparation platform called Gradeup, according to a Moneycontrol report. Gradeup will be rebranded as Byju’s Exam Prep, the report added. The company did not disclose the value of its purchase. 

Gradeup caters to students preparing for more than 150 exams in 25+ exam categories covering government jobs and postgraduate entrance exams such as IAS, GATE, CAT, Bank PO/Clerk, Defence, UGC-NET, etc. 

Byju’s has been on an acquisition spree since last year. It has bought entities active in various edtech categories in order to diversify its offerings before it announces plans to go public. Byju Raveendran, in an interview, said that the decacorn startup was planning an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 12-18 months. The spree signals Byju’s clear intention to list on the bourses as it is standard practice for most companies to augment their portfolio and services before an IPO. 

What has Byju’s acquired in 2021 so far?

The $16.5 billion startup has spent over $2.2 billion in mergers and acquisitions in 2021, as per LiveMint. Some of the key additions include: 

Aakash Educational Services bought for nearly $1 billion in April this year was the company’s most expensive acquisition to date. The group is a chain of coaching centres with online and offline offerings. This acquisition coupled with Gradeup shows how serious the company is about establishing its footprint in the competitive exams coaching space. 

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Great Learning, led by Mohan Lakhamraju, was acquired for $600 million. It allows Byju’s, a K12 player primarily, a foothold in the professional and higher education segment. Great Learning will continue to operate as an independent unit in Byju’s group. The company added that it will invest another $400 million towards Great Learning’s growth. 

Epic is another key purchase made by Byju’s this year for $500 million. The company is based in the US and it is a digital reading platform for kids. The acquisition is pivotal as the startup looks to establish its presence in overseas markets. Epic caters to kids aged 12 and under; it doubled its user base to 50 million kids in the last year.

Toppr was taken over by Byju’s for $150 million, as per Entrackr. Toppr was a K-12 player based out of Mumbai and led by Zishaan Hayath. Moneycontrol said that the sale came in the wake of a struggle with fundraising and an unsustainable growth rate. 

HashLearn was bought in May this year after the company’s finances were in dire straits, according to an Entrackr report. HashLearn is an on-demand tutoring app connecting students with tutors from the IITs and BITS, as described on its website. The company did not reveal the details of the sum.

Scholr was the first acquisition Byju’s made this year for Rs 18 crore, as per Hindu Business Line. Scholr is an AI-enabled online education company that provides instant step-by-step solutions to any question submitted on the app in the form of a simple photo. 

Whodat is a Bengaluru-based computer vision and AR startup obtained by Byju’s for an undisclosed sum. Whodat’s AR platform creates immersive experiences that automatically detect users’ environments without using physical markers to overlay 3D content. 

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This is not an exhaustive list as the edutech startup has secured many companies since 2015 as enumerated by Entrackr. They include: 

  • WhiteHat Jr
  • Osmo
  • LabInApp
  • Specadel
  • Vidyartha
  • Infiken
  • TutorVista 
  • Edurite
  • Math Adventures

How is Byju’s funding its acquisition spree? 

The company has raised more than $1.5 billion in several rounds of fundraising over the past 18 months. Some of its prominent investors include General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers, Silver Lake, and Tiger Global, among others.

  • Byju’s kicked off its 2021 fundraising with Rs 3,328 crore ($460 million) as part of its Series F round in March, according to Financial Express
  • The company then obtained $150 million from UBS Group AG in April followed by $340 million from a group of investors, as per Economic Times.
  • Byju’s secured another $50 million in July led by IIFL’s private equity fund and Maitri Edtech.
  • Most recently, Byju’s raised $150 million from Asmaan Ventures, Mirae Asset, and ARK Ncore, Inc42 reported. The website revealed that it is the first tranche of $1 billion the firm is planning to raise over the next few months. 

It must be noted that the startup is yet to turn into a profit-making entity. News reports, citing its annual financial statement, revealed that the company’s revenue grew over 82 percent to Rs. 2,380.7 crore in 2019-20 over Rs. 1,306 crore in 2018-19.

The company’s losses widened to Rs. 250 crore from about Rs. 9 crore as total expenditure more than doubled to Rs. 3,021 crore in 2019-20 from Rs. 1,376 crore in the previous year.

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