Blackrock, Others Bet On Byju’s As Funding Spree Continues

This is the third investment round for the nine-year-old startup this year. 

Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive officer of Think and Learn Pvt. (Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)
Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive officer of Think and Learn Pvt. (Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

Blackrock, Sands Capital and Alkeon, a New-York based Hedge fund, have invested Byju’s, the edtech startup that has seen investors pile in as demand for online education spiked during the lockdown.

Existing investors General Atlantic, Owl Ventures and Tiger Global are also participating in this round, Byju’s said in statement without disclosing the fund size.

While the company didn't disclose the amount, a person aware of the details told BloombergQuint on the condition of anonymity that it's part of $500 million that Byju's raised in a round led by Silver Lake at a valuation of about $11.1 billion.

“We are excited to welcome Blackrock, Sands Capital and Alkeon as our partners," Byju Raveendran, Founder & CEO of Byju’s said in the statement late on Tuesday. "As we continue to create engaging and personalized learning solutions, partnerships like these reaffirm our commitment to build and transform the global learning landscape through technology, innovation and quality pedagogy."

Byju’s has been at the forefront of funding frenzy in India’s edtech space that has seen investors pour in money as pandemic forced teachers and students to seek online resources when the schools remain shut because of the pandemic. An estimated 250 million school-going children in the country have been affected by the school closures.

This is the third investment round for the nine-year-old startup this year. In June, the firm raised about fresh investment from Mary Meeker. In January, it $200 million from Tiger Global. In the last nine months, Byjus’ valuation has soared from $8 billion to $11.1 billion.

It’s not just Byjus’ alone as peers have also been gathering backers. Unacademy earlier this month raised fresh funds from Softbank, online learning startup Vedantu recently raised $100 million from U.S.-based investor Coatue Management. Toppr raised around $47 million in a growth funding round led by Dubai-based investment firm, Foundation Holdings.

Byju's was founded by Raveendran, a former teacher and son of educators, who conceived the smartphone app in 2011 to help students learn and master concepts from math and science using short videos. The firm then also ventured into offering students a variety of programmes, including online coaching for competitive exams such as the Common Aptitude Test and the Indian Administrative Services.

The company also introduced a comprehensive online tutoring programme.—BYJU’S Classes.—to cater to the after-school learning needs of students. Learning programmes in multiple vernacular languages like Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Malayalam and Gujarati have been introduced during the lockdown too.

Byju’s, also backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers Ltd. and Tiger Global Management, last month acquired a smaller peer for about $300 million.

The firm has seen tremendous growth in the last few months, and since the lockdown, added over 25 million new students on its platform. As of today, the app has over 70 million registered students and 4.5 million annual paid subscriptions. It doubled revenues in the year ended March 2020 to $373 million from the previous financial year and is profitable, Bloomberg reported.