Byju’s considering India or US for listing; in talks to close final private funding round

Byju Raveendran, the founder of Byju's. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Edtech unicorn Byju’s has sustained its acquisition spree with its ninth deal so far this year and the third in the US following the purchase of kids coding platform, Tynker. With its previous acquisition of kids reading app Epic worth $500 million, this year Byju’s is ramping up its distribution play in the US.

With a public listing in the offing, either in India or in the US, Byju’s is also looking to close its final fundraise as a private company, which may skyrocket its valuation to $21 billion.

In an interview, Byju’s founder and chief executive Byju Raveendran spoke about the factors behind the Tynker acquisition, how its acquisitions have fared so far and plans for a public listing. Edited excerpts:

After the WhiteHat Jr acquisition, why did you choose to acquire another coding startup?

Coding is an important segment for us and also an important future skill. Tynker has a dominant presence in the US market and significant presence in other markets. They are really complementary to the WhiteHat Jr and our international ‘Byju’s Future School’ offering. While WhiteHat Jr is where we have synchronous learning expertise (through teachers), Tynker is asynchronous which means anyone can get on their platform and learn.

Coding encourages a creative thinking mindset while math and science foster foundational skills. And Tynker is in the intersection of coding which fosters an active mindset and US, which is one of our primary markets.

Tynker will enhance our platform since it is self-learning and will offer the options to users to use Byju’s to get synchronous learning support from our teachers. Also, we will take Tynker and Epic to India. We depend on these platforms for product enhancement and distribution. With (the US acquisitions of) Epic, Tynker and Osmo, we are already covering 80% of kids in the US (in kindergarten to grade 12 learning segment). We might bring our US acquisitions, under the Byju’s brand name, but it’s still early days and we are figuring it out.

With nine acquisitions in 2021, has integration been a challenge for Byju’s?

The answer to that is, look at our past acquisitions—nine out of 10 times, founders of companies we have acquired have stayed on beyond their contractual commitment. And it is not by chance. It is because we retain all (cultural) aspects which have made these companies successful.

And we turbocharge their growth, by playing a supporting role. We do not go into inside intervention, and founders have their freedom. We are able to increase their distribution as well. We have already launched ‘Aakash+BYJUs’ post the acquisition and it is doing well. In two years, Osmo has been reporting almost four-fold growth.

It is not easy to integrate, but it is also not as difficult as people make it.

What is happening with your fundraise?

At present, we are seriously considering an initial public offering (IPO) and we will be raising our last private round as talks are currently on. There is a lot of interest as we continue to show organic and inorganic growth. India is a hot market, so is education, and Byju’s is in the intersection of it. And we will continue growing and there is a large opportunity. There is no scope for complacency. We are not behind short-term optics. Whatever we have done is through value creation.

Do we see you hitting the public markets sooner than expected?

We might accelerate but exact timelines are still a little too early for me to tell. It (the listing) can be in the next 12 months, but definitely not in the next six months.

Is Byju’s also exploring to list in the US?

We have not ruled out any options. Whether we will list in India first and then the US or vice versa, we are still taking a call. But for now, we are considering and exploring both US and India markets for our listing.

The article was first published on livemint.com.

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).   

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  • 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.