Bengaluru: Education technology firm Byju’s said it has added three new US investors– the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, Sands Capital and Alkeon Capital, a hedge fund– to its long list of backers as it continues to raise gobs of cash amid a boom in online education. The investment is part of an ongoing funding round announced earlier this month led by US private equity major Silver Lake, which made news in India by joining in Reliance Jio’s mega fundraising earlier this year.
According to a source, Byju’s will raise as much as $500 million in the current funding round at a $10.8 billion valuation, making it the second most valuable startup in the country after digital payments giant Paytm. The Bengaluru-based company said existing investors General Atlantic, Owl Ventures and Tiger Global were also participating in the new round.
The announcement comes just weeks after tech-focussed private equity major Silver Lake and Yuri Milner’s DST Global invested in the company led by Byju Raveendran. Apart from these two investors, this year the ed tech firm has pulled in heavyweights such as Tiger Global, Bond Capital, on to its shareholder list.
“We are excited to welcome Blackrock, Sands Capital and Alkeon as our partners,” said Raveendran, adding that “…partnerships like these reaffirm our commitment to build and transform the global learning landscape through technology, innovation and quality pedagogy.”
ET could not immediately ascertain whether the new round included a secondary sale of shares by existing investors.
Byju’s, which had raised a total of around $916 million up until the end of 2019, seems to have raised close to or more than that in 2020 alone. It’s valuation too has jumped, from $5.7 billion in July 2019, to around $10.8 billion currently.
The company has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Covid-19 pandemic, with millions of parents turning to its online courses as schools across India have remained shut. Byju’s says it has added over 25 million new students to its platform since the start of the lockdown, taking its base of users to 70 million, including 4.5 million paid subscribers.
The Indian ed-tech sector has gained from high growth rates during the pandemic as school shut across the country.
Rival Unacademy recently announced a $150 million investment round led by SoftBank Vision Fund at a valuation of $1.45 billion. Executive education firm Eruditus, too, recently raised $113 million led by Leeds Illuminate and South African internet giant Prosus Ventures, along with participation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan’s philanthropic fund Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). CZI is also an investor in Byju’s, while Facebook is an investor in Unacademy.