Byju’s, India’s largest edtech company on Wednesday said that it has acquired the U.S.-based edtech firm Epic for $500 million, its second-largest deal after it bought Blackstone-backed Aakash Educational Services, one of India’s foremost players in the brick-and-mortar test prep space for nearly $1 billion in April this year.
For Bengaluru-based Byju’s this is its second deal in the U.S. post its acquisition of Osmo—a maker of educational games—for $120 million in 2019. Byju’s, which claims to have over 100 million students on its platform, plans to invest $1 billion in North America to expand its footprint in the region. Epic’s acquisition is expected to boost Byju’s presence in the U.S., especially in the online reading segment.
Epic, which claims to have a user base of 50 million children in the U.S., is a kind of an online library for kids aged 12 and under who can access digital books through a subscription service. Co-founded by Suren Markosian and Kevin Donahue, Epic has a collection of over 40,000 books, audiobooks, and videos from more than 250 publishers. The edtech company provides free access to schools, with over 2 million teachers now signed up for classroom use.
“Our partnership with Epic will enable us 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,” said Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO, Byju’s, adding that “Knowing that Epic and its products are rooted in the same mission, it was a natural fit.”
Byju’s, which was valued at about $16.5 billion in June, has made few acquisitions in the past including Bengaluru-based LabInApp for an undisclosed amount and Mumbai-based WhiteHat Jr for $300 million last year. Prior to that it has acquired Bengaluru-based Math Adventures for an undisclosed amount in 2018 and TutorVista and Edurite from the U.K.-based Pearson for an undisclosed amount in 2017. In the same year, it acquired Bengaluru-based Vidyartha for an undisclosed amount.
“We created Epic to make quality books more accessible to kids everywhere. The alignment of our missions and shared passion makes Byju’s the perfect partner, as we’re confident this acquisition will ignite excitement for learning around the world,” said Suren Markosian, CEO and co-founder of Epic.
From offline coaching classes in 2007-08 to a purely online model in 2015 with the launch of its learning app, Byju’s had a meteoric rise in the last few years. Reason: The test prep space in India has always been a lucrative market and the edtech firm had managed to crack that early on.
However, the intensity of competition has heightened over the past year with players such as Byju’s and its smaller crosstown rival Unacademy, along with several others, going on a fundraising spree in 2020. Byju’s alone raised approximately $1.15 billion in equity funding last year despite the pandemic, according to data from analytics firm Tracxn.
Today the Indian edtech space is a vast hunting ground for the best deals in online education courses as global players, investors, and local companies with deep pockets jostle to lure Indian parents, on whom the cost of education usually falls.
Earlier this year e-commerce giant Amazon announced the launch of its online test-prep platform Amazon Academy in India to help students prepare for competitive examinations including the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), the entrance test for engineering colleges.