Byju’s bets big on higher education with the acquisition of SG’s Great Learning

Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran. Photo: Mint

Edtech unicorn Byju’s, the country’s most valuable startup, has acquired Singapore-headquartered Great Learning, which offers professional upskilling and higher education courses, for $600 million in a cash, stock and earnout deal.

The Bengaluru-based firm has earmarked another $400 million into this segment in the near term, it said on Monday.

The acquisition marks Byju’s’ push into the professional upskilling and life-long learning space in India and globally with a total commitment of $1 billion, as it expands its offerings beyond the K-12 and test prep segments.

Great Learning will continue to operate as an independent unit under the Byju’s group under the leadership of its founder and CEO Mohan Lakhamraju and co-founders, Hari Nair and Arjun Nair.

With this investment, Great Learning will accelerate its organic and inorganic growth in India and overseas markets such as North America, Canada among others.

The Great Learning acquisition comes just a week after Byju’s shelled out $500 million to acquire US-based Epic, an online reading platform for children. In April, it also signed one of the largest acquisition deals in the edtech space, by acquiring Aakash Educational Services Ltd for $950 million.

The acquisitions are being funded from its recent $1.5 billion fund-raise from UBS Group, Abu Dhabi sovereign fund ADQ, Blackstone Group LP among others, at a valuation of $16.5 billion.

The partnership with Greater Learning, Byju’s said will bring together its own technology and content expertise with the former’s professional courses at a time when the covid-19 pandemic and evolving industry dynamics have encouraged professionals in India and globally to upskill themselves.

“Empowering learners with the right futuristic skills form a fundamental part of our vision. Great Learning is a globally recognized and reputed professional education company and this partnership expands our reach into this new segment. We are united in our mission to provide professionals with high-quality and industry-relevant learning programs in this competitive global economy,” said Byju Raveendran, founder, and CEO, Byju’s.

Eight-year-old Great learning is a bootstrapped company and has delivered over 60 million hours of learning to 1.5 million learners from over 170 countries.

It has a network of 2800 industry expert mentors and works with over 500 corporate partners for their upskilling and talent needs.

The professional upskilling and reskilling segment is a focus area of operations for the likes of upGrad and Blackstone-backed Simplilearn.

“At Great Learning, we have been working towards our mission of making high-quality, transformational education accessible to learners everywhere. Together with Byju’s, we will be able to accelerate our progress towards this goal and meet the growing need for upskilling both in India and around the world. Further, as higher education moves online, we will leverage our joint strengths in technology, content, pedagogy and instructors to create unparalleled learning opportunities at affordable prices for everyone,” Mohan Lakhamraju, founder and CEO of Great Learning, said.

Lakhamraju said the company saw a huge spike in users in the last year and the completion rate by users on its platform is 91%, with the right kind of handholding and guidance.

Great Learning offers programs in software engineering, business management, business analytics, data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and more.

Byju’s is also in the process of acquiring after-school learning app, Toppr for around $150 million. The transaction is expected to be announced soon.

With this, Byju’s has acquired six startups in 2021, across India and the US.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

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.