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Byju's acquires Epic for $500 mn, to invest $1 bn for expanding presence in North American market

Byju's is estimated to have raised about $1.5 billion since April last year

BYJU's founder is India's newest billionaire [File] Byju Raveendran | AFP

Just months after its about $1 billion buyout of Aakash Educational Services, edtech major Byju's has now acquired US-based digital reading platform Epic for $500 million (around Rs 3,729.8 crore). 

Byju's, which ranks among the highest valued start-ups in the country, will also invest an additional $1 billion (about Rs 7,459.7 crore) in the North American market. 

Byju's, in a statement on Wednesday, said it has acquired Epic, a digital reading platform for kids aged 12 years and under, in a $500 million deal. 

The acquisition will help Byju's expand its footprint in the US by providing access to the more than two million teachers and 50 million kids in Epic's existing global user base, which has more than doubled over the last year, it added. 

Epic CEO Suren Markosian and co-founder Kevin Donahue will remain in their roles, the statement noted. 

Epic has a collection of over 40,000 books, audiobooks and videos from more than 250 of the world's best publishers. It has made access free to educators, and more than two million teachers have signed up for classroom use. 

The edtech space has seen strong growth globally, including in India, with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an inflection point. Many offline classes went online to ensure continuity of education while adhering to social distancing norms. 

Several players have raised fresh funding from investors, along with consolidation as seen with deals like Unacademy acquiring PrepLadder and Byju's acquisition of Aakash. 

Byju's is estimated to have raised about $1.5 billion since April last year in multiple tranches. 

Byju's (Think & Learn Pvt Ltd) is backed by marquee investors, including General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers, Silver Lake and Tiger Global. 

Launched in 2015, Byju's has 100 million students using its services globally. The company has also been aggressively acquiring companies to bolster its presence across categories. In the past, Byju's had acquired TutorVista and Edurite (from Pearson in 2017) and Osmo in 2019. 

Last year, the company had bought the coding training platform WhiteHat Jr for $300 million and in April this year, it acquired Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL) to bolster its presence in the test preparation segment in the country. 

Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju's, said the partnership with Epic will enable the company to create engaging and interactive reading and learning experiences for children globally. "Our mission is to fuel curiosity and make students fall in love with learning. Knowing that Epic and its products are rooted in the same mission, it was a natural fit. Together we have the opportunity to create impactful experiences for children to become lifelong learners," he added. 

The company is also expanding its presence in the overseas market. "Already trusted by more than 100 million students worldwide, Byju's will invest USD 1 billion in North America to accelerate its vision of helping students fall in love with learning," the statement said. 

The time frame for investing this amount was not disclosed. The acquisition with Epic will not only lead to significant investments in technology that will help to further personalise learning for students but also enable Byju's to become a natural part of America's learning culture, it added. 

Markosian, the co-founder of Epic, said the alignment of missions and shared passion makes Byju's the perfect partner, as Epic is confident that this acquisition will ignite excitement for learning around the world. "Together, we can help empower future generations of kids by fostering a lifetime love for reading and learning," Markosian added. 


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