Byju’s is in advanced talks to raise $600-700 million at a valuation of nearly $15 billion, two people familiar with the development said, closing in on India’s most valuable startup Paytm which is worth $16 billion.
The Bengaluru-based company is raising money from a clutch of new investors based in the US, making it the edtech unicorn’s first fundraising round for 2021. “The deal is expected to be signed as early as next week,” said one of the two people cited above, asking not to be named.
A Byju’s spokesperson declined to comment. News portal Entrackr reported the development first on Thursday evening.
“The capital will be used to mainly fund its acquisition of Aakash Educational Services,” the second person added.
Byju’s is also in advanced talks to acquire smaller rival Toppr for $150-160 million, as consolidation continues in India’s booming online learning sector. Both Byju’s and Toppr operate in the K-12 (Kindergarten to Class 12) learning space. Last August, it had acquired WhiteHat Jr, an online coding school for young children for $300 million.
“Given that business momentum has not slowed down for Byju’s even beyond the pandemic, both these acquisitions will bring a lot of value to the table. Currently, Byju’s is eyeing both international expansion and strategic inorganic growth,” the second person said.
Edtech companies raised $2.1 billion in 2020, the highest among all sectors, against $426 million in 2019, according to data from Venture Intelligence. Byju’s and Unacademy gained significantly last year as schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and students took to online classes.
After undergoing multiple rounds of funding last year, both edtech companies have been on an acquisition spree, and continue to scout for strategic buyouts.
US investment firms BlackRock and T. Rowe Price along with Silver Lake Partners, BlackRock, Sands Capital, Alkeon Capital, Tiger Global Management and Bond Capital were some of the investors who funded the edtech startup in 2020.