At $16.5 billion, Byju’s to be top desi startup

BENGALURU: A change is on its way in the top order of the most valued Indian startups.
Edtech major Byju’s is set to be the most valued startup in India amid the pandemic, toppling SoftBank- and Alibaba-backed Paytm, which is valued at $16 billion. Byju’s is in advanced stages of talks to raise another $150-200 million from UBS Group, after which it is expected to be valued at around $16.5 billion, a person aware of the matter said. The cheque size could change. This is on top of the $1-billion funding it is currently closing at a valuation of over $15 billion from a clutch of new and existing investors.
Byju’s had raised $1 billion in capital last year. The current discussions suggest the pace of fund-raising has increased sharply. Byju’s hasn’t made any official announcements as yet on these discussions. It has been using its capital to make multiple acquisitions, which has triggered consolidation in the education sector — both online and offline.

“Byju’s would be the top ranked startup in India in the next few weeks. It is finalising some of the contours of the current deal,” the person quoted earlier said.
Meanwhile, Byju’s has also sought Competition Commission of India’s (CCI’s) nod for its nearly $1-billion deal to acquire coaching network Aakash Institute, which was announced earlier this month.
Edtech startups have been a direct beneficiary of the pandemic, attracting most of the new capital being pumped in by investors, besides sectors like digital payments and e-commerce. The second wave of Covid, which has battered India, is expected to further fuel the demand for online education.
Byju’s was last officially valued at $11 billion based on the announcements it has made, but there have been fast-paced changes in the past seven months. Besides Aakash Institute, it has acquired WhiteHat Jr and US-based Osmo. TOI has reported that it is also acquiring rival Toppr. Reports indicate it is aiming to buy multiple other startups, both in India and abroad. It has also started expanding aggressively outside India.
A Byju’s spokesperson declined to comment on the latest fund-raising. An email sent to UBS Group did not immediately elicit any response.
Byju Raveendran, co-founder of Byju’s, recently told TOI its revenue grew by 100% in the financial year ended March 2021. This would translate into a revenue of around Rs 5,600 crore, compared to Rs 2,800 crore in the previous year.
Byju’s said it has a cumulative base of over 80 million students, with 5.5 million being annual paid subscribers. It says its annual renewal rate is 86% and that it added 45 million new students in the first six months of the lockdown last year.