Education technology company Unacademy said on Wednesday that it has raised $150 million in a funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank. The latest round of funding will raise the company’s valuation to $1.45 billion, Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO, Unacademy, said in a Twitter post. Cross-town rival BYJU’s was valued at about $10.5 billion after its recent funding round.

“Our goal always has been to democratise knowledge and make it more affordable and accessible by getting the best experts of the world help everyone achieve their goals,” Munjal tweeted, adding that existing investors Facebook, General Atlantic, Sequoia India, Nexus, and Blume Ventures also participated in the new funding round.

In February Unacademy had raised $110 million from Facebook, General Atlantic, Sequoia India, and others.

In the past few years, edtech companies have ramped up their interactive online tutoring content, targeting school students and candidates preparing for competitive examinations and government jobs across metros and tier 2 cities.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, a study by KPMG and Google in May 2017 noted that India’s online education market is expected to touch $1.96 billion, with 9.6 million users, by 2021. Data reveals that after the Coronavirus outbreak, the numbers are expected to be much higher as the nationwide lockdown and social distancing measures prompted millions of students restricted to homes to flock to online education portals.

Unacademy was launched as a YouTube channel in 2010 when Munjal, then an engineering student, started uploading tutorials. Soon, he asked his friend Roman Saini, an MBBS from AIIMS who had cracked the civil services, to upload tutorials for IAS aspirants. Hemesh Singh joined some days later as the CTO of the online education platform, which brings together educators and students.

The online platform provides educational videos and live interactive classes with access to more than 30 exam categories for learners. Unacademy has more than one million videos on its platform. In 2019, Unacademy launched its subscription service for various examinations. In February, the company had said that it has more than 90,000 active subscribers, adding that about 70% of its users are from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

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