With $500 mn funding led by Silver Lake, Byju's valuation crosses $10.8 bn

“We are excited to welcome a strong partner like Silver Lake to the Byju’s family,” said Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO
Byju’s, an edtech company, has raised $500 million in a new round of funding from Silver Lake, the leading global technology investment firm, according to sources.

Though the company confirmed the development, it declined to reveal the amount.

This year Silver Lake invested Rs 10,202 crore in Mukesh Ambani-led Jio Platforms.

Existing investors Tiger Global, General Atlantic, and Owl Ventures are also participating in this round. The new funding has increased the valuation of the Bengaluru-based firm to $10.8 billion.

The firm was valued at $10.5 billion when it received funding from Silicon Valley investor and analyst Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital in June.

“We are excited to welcome a strong partner like Silver Lake to the Byju’s family,” said Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Byju’s.

“We are fortunate to be in a sector of positive relevance during this crisis. This has brought online learning to the forefront and is helping parents, teachers, and students to experience and understand its value. Our classrooms are changing possibly for the first time in 100 years … we have to redefine the future of learning.”

Byju's is narrowing the gap to become the most valuable start-up in the country after digital payments firm Paytm, which is valued at around $16 billion.

It said it supported students in learning during the pandemic. In response to the closure of schools, the company had made content on its learning app free for all students. Over the past few months, Byju’s has entered the after-school learning space with the launch of Byju’s Classes, a comprehensive online tutoring program.

“We are delighted to lead this investment and partner Byju (Raveendran) and his impressive team of education technology pioneers,” said Greg Mondre, co-CEO of Silver Lake.

“We look forward to working with them as Byju’s builds on and accelerates its compelling growth trajectory by forging new partnerships and continuing to cultivate a comprehensive ecosystem of innovative educational offerings.”

The private equity firm, headquartered in Menlo Park, California, counts e-commerce giant Alibaba, ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, and home rental firm Airbnb among its portfolio companies.

The other portfolio companies include Twitter, Alphabet’s self-driving company unit Waymo, and Intelsat, the world’s largest provider of fixed satellite services.

Since the lockdown started, Byju’s has seen over 20 million new students start learning on its platform for free. Today the app has over 64 million registered students and 4.2 million annual paid subscriptions.

Byju’s had almost doubled its revenue from Rs 1,430 crore to Rs 2,800 crore in FY20. It is now inching towards the $1-billion revenue milestone.

Last month, Byju’s acquired Mumbai-based ed-tech start-up WhiteHat Jr, which teaches children coding, for $300 million. With coding fast emerging as a key skill for the future, this integration will accelerate Byju's international expansion. The same month, Byju’s also raised $122 million from Israeli-Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s investment fund DST Global. Byju’s was reportedly in talks with DST to raise around $400 million, according to sources. 

In all, Byju’s has raised over $1.6 billion from investors, according to Crunchbase, a data platform.

Experts said at a time when India was fighting the pandemic, much of the country’s $180-billion education sector was going online, throwing up opportunities for edtech players including Byju’s, Unacademy, and Vedantu.

Unacademy, the firm launched as a hobby on YouTube, this month raised $150 million in a round led by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. This values it at $1.45 billion, a three-fold jump in just six months.

This also makes the Bengaluru-based firm the first unicorn in the country’s edtech space after Byju's.

Last month, edtech start-up Eruditus raised $113 million in funding led by Leeds Illuminate and South African internet giant Prosus Ventures (formerly Naspers Ventures).

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s philanthropic organisation the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, also participated in the round.

In July, Vedantu raised $100 million from US-based investment firm Coatue with participation from existing investors. With this round, the Bengaluru-based firm’s valuation jumped to $600 million.

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