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Byju’s raises funds from China’s Tencent

LiveMint logoLiveMint 25-07-2017 Yuvraj Malik

New Delhi: Byju’s, an online education start-up, has raised an undisclosed amount from China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The latest round of funding will help Byju’s accelerate product development for new markets and create a capital pool for acquisitions, the company said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes shortly after an investment of $30 million from Brussels-based Verlinvest. The said round closed at a $600 million valuation, Mint reported in March (bit.ly/2o7p1xN).

“We are excited to have Tencent on board with us. This makes our strong investor portfolio even more diverse,” said Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO, Byju’s.

Tencent Holdings is a Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed holding firm that owns a plethora of companies in the media, entertainment and internet commerce space. It is the company behind WeChat, China’s most popular instant messaging and social payments platform.

Tencent is also among the most active foreign investors in start-ups in India. The Shenzhen, China-based company has backed doctors booking platform Practo, chat messenger Hike and recently invested a part of Flipkart’s massive $1.4 billion funding round, among other investments.

“Byju’s has emerged as the clear leader in the Indian education-tech sector. We share Byju’s mission of transforming education by creating personalized learning experiences for students,” said Hongwei Chen, executive director of investments and M&A at Tencent.

Started by Raveendran in 2008, Byju’s offers visual and text-based study material for students in schools and those preparing for competitive exams. It launched a Byju’s mobile app in 2015, which has since grown to nine million users and 450,000 annual paid subscriptions.

Byju’s now wants to take the success global with its eyes set on the US, among other English-speaking markets.

Earlier this month, Byju’s acquired TutorVista and Edurite, two education tech start-ups, from global educations services firm Pearson Plc. TutorVista reportedly gets about 70% of its traffic from the US.

Byju’s said it clocked sales of Rs260 crore in the fiscal year ended March 2017, up from Rs115 crore in the previous year. The company turned profitable in the April-June quarter this year, it said.

“With increased brand awareness and strong adoption amongst students, this year we expect the revenue to double again and we will be profitable on a full year basis,” Raveendran said in a statement.

Byju’s has till date (excluding the current round) raised about $200 million from investors. It is backed by Sequoia Capital and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, among others.

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