Indian edtech unicorn Byju’s buys US-based online reading platform Epic for $500m

Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran. Photo: Mint

Byju‘s has acquired Epic, a California-based online reading platform, for $500 million in a cash-and-stock deal, marking the Bengaluru-based edtech major’s second acquisition in the US after acquiring educational gaming startup Osmo in 2019.

The acquisition helps Byju’s to deepen its presence in the US as well as venture into a fresh segment — online reading.

Epic, which offers a digital library mainly to the under-12 category of readers, an age group that Byju’s also focuses on, will soon be available in India and other English-speaking markets such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Byju’s said this will help it expand its US footprint by providing access to the more than two million teachers and 50 million kids in Epic’s existing user base, which more than doubled over the last year. It will invest $1 billion in North America to accelerate its vision of helping students fall in love with learning.

Epic CEO Suren Markosian and co-founder Kevin Donahue will remain in their roles.

“Our partnership with Epic will enable us to create engaging and interactive reading and learning experiences for children globally. Our mission is to fuel curiosity and make students fall in love with learning. Knowing that Epic and its products are rooted in the same mission, it was a natural fit. Together we have the opportunity to create impactful experiences for children to become life-long learners,” said Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO, Byju’s.

The Bengaluru-based startup recently raised a massive $1.5 billion round from UBS Group, Abu Dhabi sovereign fund ADQ, Blackstone Group Lp and others. It is currently valued at $16.5 billion.

Raveendra told Mint that the Epic transaction has been funded from the latest fundraise.

“We created Epic to make quality books more accessible to kids everywhere, and to build a safe place for them to discover the joy and magic of reading in their own way. The alignment of our missions and shared passion makes Byju’s the perfect partner, as we’re confident this acquisition will ignite excitement for learning around the world,” said Epic’s Markosian.

Byju’s has been aiming to double down on overseas markets and expand in the US, both inorganically as well as with its own products in a customised manner.

The company said the Epic acquisition will not only lead to significant investments in technology, which will help to further personalized learning for students, but also enable Byju’s to become a natural part of America’s learning culture.

Byju’s Future School, an online one-on-one live learning platform for math and coding was released in June, that enabled 11,000 women teachers to help students learn these subjects in an interactive way.

Raveendran said its acquisitions are primarily to enable integration with the respective companies.

This kind of integration, for instance, has seen Osmo scale four-fold since it was acquired. Byju’s has also integrated Osmo’s computer vision technology into its products to create a hands-on learning experience combining the physical and digital worlds.

The article was first published on livemint.com.

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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.