Byju's enters higher education segment, acquires Great Learning for $600 mn

Byju's enters higher education segment, acquires Great Learning for $600 mn

India’s digital learning pioneer Byju’s is buying professional training and higher education platform Great Learning for $600 million, accelerating an acquisition spree to expand globally.

The cash-and-stock purchase marks an entry to the higher education segment for Byju’s, the company said Monday in a statement. The sellers of Singapore-based Great Learning will receive certain payments based on its future performance, and Byju’s will set aside a further $400 million to boost the unit’s growth.

"The acquisition marks BYJU'S strong push into the professional upskilling and life-long learning space globally with a total commitment of $1 billion, expanding its offerings beyond the K12 and test prep segments, and further accelerating the company's growth plans," the edtech major said.

India’s most valuable startup plans to combine its technology with Great Learning’s professional courses in areas such as design and cloud computing. The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the popularity of online education as students and professionals seek to upgrade their skills, while schools and offices have shuttered.

“We are seizing an opportunity to create a very large edtech company for the world,” Byju Raveendran, the founder and chief executive officer of Byju’s, said on a video call. “India’s edtech startups have a huge competitive advantage to capture the global market.”

Byju’s, valued at $16.5 billion, is backed by Naspers Ltd., Tiger Global Management, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and others. It has 100 million registered students and 6.5 million paid subscribers on its eponymous learning app and a robust online-offline test prep presence through the recent acquisition of Aakash Educational Services Ltd. Last week, it acquired Epic, the reading app for kids under 12, in a $500 million deal.

Founders Mohan Lakhamraju, Hari Nair and Arjun Nair will remain at Great Learning and run it as an independent unit. The business plans to grow annual subscription revenue to $1 billion “within the next years” from $100 million currently, Lakhamraju said on the call.

The company’s courses are aimed at solving real-world problems through a practical approach, in contrast to “traditional learning in universities,” he said. Founded in 2013, Great Learning works with universities in India and beyond, including Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.