India’s online education pioneer Byju’s is raising $150 million from UBS Group, a Swiss multinational investment bank, at a valuation of about $16.5 billion. The funding will make it the country’s most valuable startup.
An entity that is part of UBS Asset Management is making the investment. It is under discussion to invest extra money, which would increase its total investment in Byju to about $300 million, according to the sources. The startup could also bring in another funder to bring the new funding up to $400 million, one of the sources said.
The startup industry in India has made way for unicorns, which are private companies valued at $1 billion or more, at a breakneck pace.
The online education startup, officially called Think and Learn, has built up a large group of investors including US-based social media giant Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s Group B Capital, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, former investors such a Naspers and Tiger, as well as private equity giants Silver Lake Management, Owl Ventures and T.
Mr. Ravindran, the founder of Byju’s, said that the pandemic has dramatically changed the perception about online learning among parents, teachers and students. The startup’s K-12 app, which brings in the bulk of its revenue, has more than 80 million registered users in India who learn the fundamentals of mathematics and science through animated games and videos featuring tutor demos.
In recent months, Byju’s has accelerated the pace of acquisitions, by snapping up a company that teaches one-on-one coding to schoolchildren in markets like the United States, Latin America and Australia in addition to India. It also bought an education institution, Aakash Educational Services, that specializes in offline test-prep classes for Indian school graduates wishing to enter ultra-competitive engineering and medical schools. The edtech is further expanding its subject offerings to include music, English and the creative arts.