In one of the fastest exits in the Indian technology startup ecosystem, Byju’s said Wednesday it has acquired 18-month-old online learning company WhiteHat Jr for USD 300 million in an all-cash-deal to strengthen its dominant position in India’s soon-to-be USD 3.5 billion edtech market.
This acquisition gives a complete exit to WhiteHat Jr’s investors including Omidyar Network, Owl Ventures, and Nexus Venture Partners that collectively invested USD 11 million in the Mumbai-based company in its seed and Series A round.
Post-acquisition, WhiteHat Jr will continue to operate as a separate entity and its founder, Karan Bajaj, will lead the business in India and the US, the new market it entered in February. WhiteHat Jr had recently said it would expand to other global markets like Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Currently valued at USD 10.5 billion as the world’s most valuable edtech startup, Byju’s said it will make “significant investments” in WhiteHat Jr’s technology platform and product innovation. It would also expand the teacher base to cater to the demand from new markets. Currently, there are over 5,000 teachers on the platform.
“WhiteHat Jr is the leader in the live online coding space. Karan has proven his mettle as an exceptional founder… Empowering children with the right future skills has always been part of our vision at Byju’s and coding fits well into this,” Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO, Byju’s, said in a statement.
Mumbai-based WhiteHat Jr created a niche for itself in the edtech space by providing coding classes for children and young adults aged six to 14 years. The company operates in the K-12 segment and offers one-on-one teaching sessions to every student. It claims it teaches students the fundamentals of computer programming which can be used to create commercial-ready games, animation, and apps.
Along with increase in venture capital investments, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the edtech space are also seeing a steady growth this year. According to Tracxn data, M&As in the online education sector in the first half of this year nearly doubled to seven compared to four such deals in the first six months of 2019.
Byju’s top competitor and Facebook-backed Unacademy is on an acquisition spree this year. It has acquired four companies this year including not-for-profit 11-year-old CodeChef in June, and a month later it bought PrepLadder for USD 50 million in a cash-and-stock deal. Unacademy also led a USD 5 million investment round to buy a majority stake in Mastree, an eight-month-old startup that focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics subjects for students in grades five to eight.
Byju’s is also in talks to acquire two-year-old DoubtNut for USD 150 million. DoubtNut provides online tutoring to students from grade six to high school in their local language.
This year, Byju’s has raised USD 400 million apart from an undisclosed funding round from American VC firm Bond. It’s also in talks with DST Global to raise another USD 400 million at its current 10.5 billion dollars valuation, according to various media reports.