India: Blackstone to acquire over 60% stake in Simplilearn for $250m

Photo: Bloomberg

Global private equity firm Blackstone Monday announced that it is investing $250 million in Indian online education company Simplilearn Solutions Pvt Ltd to acquire a controlling stake.

The investment will give Blackstone control of over 60% of the stake in the Bengaluru-headquartered firm, one of the oldest in the online higher education space in India.

The fresh funding will also see exit of its existing investors like Kalaari Capital, Helion Ventures, and Mayfield.

“We believe Blackstone can add significant value to our company because of their scale, commitment to building businesses, and global network, which will enable us to develop partnerships with businesses and universities as Simplilearn continues to expand around the world. We would also like to thank our previous investors, Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund for their undaunted support and trust in our journey of becoming a market leader,” Krishna Kumar, founder and chief executive of Simplilearn said on Monday.

In an interaction with Mint last month, Kumar had hinted that new investors are in touch with him for capital infusion and some of his existing investors are looking to exit.

Amit Dixit, head of Asia for Blackstone Private Equity, said this is Blackstone’s first private equity investment in Asia in a “consumer technology company. Like many other sectors, technology is disrupting education and education technology has been a high conviction theme for Blackstone in India and globally.”

“Simplilearn is a differentiated player in the digital skilling space with premium content created in partnership with marquee university and industry partners. We are excited to partner with Krishna Kumar and Simplilearn’s management team to accelerate growth and build the world’s pre-eminent digital learning company, and we expect this to be the first of many such investments in Asia,” Dixit said.

Mukesh Mehta, a senior managing director at Blackstone said they were impressed with Simplilearn’s synchronous model of pedagogy focused on delivering superior outcomes for its learners.

Simplilearn has demonstrated strong, profitable growth and wanted to turbocharge that growth through focused investments in technology, leveraging Blackstone’s global network and expertise in education technology, and bringing to bear our relationships with global universities and enterprises, Mehta said.

Blackstone is a global PE giant and has previously invested in test-prep firm Aakash Education and Byju’s in the Indian education space. The three-decade-old Aakash was acquired by Byju earlier this year for around $1 billion.

Established in 2010, Simplilearn is said to be profitable for the past four years and is looking to aggressively acquire new customers. Currently, it has a reach of over two million learners both professional and students.

Kumar said the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital skills and the industry has demonstrated absolute readiness for up-skilling online. “Hence, this is the most opportune time to take the next big leap in our journey to build the world’s largest digital skilling company. We are excited to partner with Blackstone, a globally recognized investor with a strong track record in the ed-tech sector,” he said.

Simplilearn offers over 100 programs to early-to-mid career professionals in areas like Cloud, DevOps, Data Science, AI, machine learning, digital marketing, cybersecurity and many more, and has partnered with leading global and Indian universities like Caltech, Purdue University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, IIT Kanpur and enterprises like IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and KPMG.

This article was first published on livemint.

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.