Byju’s eyes $1 billion IPO for physical tutor chain Aakash

Indian edtech giant Byju’s is engaging with bankers to put together a plan for the initial public offering of its physical tutor chain unit Aakash, which it acquired last year, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The Bengaluru-headquartered firm is looking to raise $800 million to $1 billion in the initial public offering of Aakash at a valuation of over $3.5 billion, the source said, requesting anonymity as the details are private. The startup may file the paperwork for the IPO as early as February, the source said.

The deliberations are at an early stage, so the terms of the deal may change or get completely abandoned, the source cautioned. Byju’s and its founder, Byju Raveendran, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A plan for the IPO of Aakash, which Byju’s acquired for nearly $1 billion last year, comes as the group firm has postponed its own listing plan amid the global market downturn.

Byju’s seriously explored going public earlier this year through the SPAC route at a valuation north of $40 billion but changed the plan after the market dramatically reversed most of the gains from the past 13 years of the bull run.

Raveendran told TechCrunch in an earlier interview that Byju’s was watching the macro market conditions closely and will file for an IPO in nine to 12 months. “I don’t think the markets will turn this year,” he said at the time.

Byju’s, which is the most valuable startup in India at $22 billion, spent over $2 billion in the past two years to acquire about a dozen firms, mostly outside of the South Asian market as it ramps up its offerings in the U.S. and Europe. With the group IPO away by over a year, the startup has raised nearly $1 billion this year. It unveiled the most recent tranche of that fundraise, $250 million, last month. That investment was raised on a convertible note with a cap on the valuation at about $22 billion, another source familiar with the matter said.

The startup has sought to cut its marketing budget and several other expenditures in recent months to become profitable by the end of the current financial year. Byju’s also recently said that it will cut up to 2,500 jobs over the coming months.

Another reason why Byju’s is considering listing Aakash on Indian stock exchanges is its apprehension about the consumer awareness of the Indian unit in the global markets, a person familiar with the matter said.

The 34-year-old Aakash runs a chain of physical coaching centres across India. Prior to the acquisition, the firm was planning to list in the country. Aakash, which has been profitable for years, is on track to clock a revenue of over $500 million by the financial year ending 2024 at a margin of 25%, the person familiar with the matter said.

Byju’s eyes $1 billion IPO for physical tutor chain Aakash by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch

Byju’s clears $230 million payment to Blackstone for $1 billion Aakash deal

Byju’s has cleared all its dues to Blackstone by paying $234 million it owed the global investment giant for the $1 billion acquisition of Aakash, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch, addressing one of the criticisms levelled against the Indian edtech giant in recent months.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup, valued at $22 billion, had pushed back on some payments for the approximately $1 billion acquisition of the physical education chain last year, citing regulatory clearance. Blackstone, which is also an investor in Byju’s, owned about 38% of Aakash prior to the acquisition.

Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive of the eponymous edtech startup, told TechCrunch earlier this month in an interview that Byju’s and Blackstone had mutually decided to process the payments later. The Indian startup cleared the due this week, the source said, requesting anonymity as the details are private.

Blackstone and Byju’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening.

The Indian startup, which offers online and offline learning services to students from kindergarten to those preparing for competitive college entrance exams, has spent over $2.5 billion in the past two years to acquire scores of firms including the U.S.-based reading platform Epic, coding suite Tynker, India-based Great Learning, GradeUp, Topper and Austria’s GeoGebra.

It has also made a bid to acquire publicly listed edtech firm 2U, Raveendran confirmed in the earlier interview.

Earlier this month, the Indian startup revealed its financial accounts for the year ending in March 2021, after a prolonged delay. Byju’s said it clocked a revenue of $305.6 million and widened its losses to $577.4 million in the financial year that ended in March 2021. Raveendran said some 40% of FY21 revenue — because of the period of consumption and credit sales duration — were deferred to the subsequent year.

The startup, which counts Blackrock, Tiger Global, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia India among its backers, said it generated a gross revenue of $1.258 billion (unaudited) in the financial year that ended in March this year. Between April and July, the startup logged revenue of $570 million, it said.

Byju’s is looking to go public next year. Raveendran said in the earlier interview that Byju’s is watching the macro market conditions closely and will file for an IPO in nine to 12 months. “I don’t think the markets will turn this year,” he said.

Byju’s clears $230 million payment to Blackstone for $1 billion Aakash deal by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch

Byju’s cuts over 600 jobs, pushes back payments for $1 billion acquisition

Byju’s, India’s most valuable startup, has eliminated over 600 jobs in recent days and pushed back on payments for a $1 billion acquisition it announced last year.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup, valued at about $22 billion, has cut over 300 jobs at Toppr, an online learning startup it acquired last year for $150 million, and another 300 jobs at WhiteHat Jr, a kids-focused coding platform it acquired two years ago for $300 million.

The development follows Byju’s extending the deadline for making parts of the payments for a ~$1 billion acquisition of Aakash, a 34-year-old chain of physical coaching centres, it announced over a year ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Morning Context first reported about the payment delay.

In a statement, a Byju’s spokesperson said the startup was on track to make the payments by the “agreed upon” date in August.

“Along with all our group companies, we continue to be perfectly poised to provide access to quality education in all learning segments from early learning to exam prep and career success,” the spokesperson added.

For the layoff at Toppr, the edtech giant confirmed the development, adding it had “completed the integration of Toppr and has absorbed almost 80% of its talented workforce into the Byju’s ecosystem.”

“As the next step, we are optimizing teams to recalibrate business priorities and accelerate our long-term growth,” the spokesperson added.

The company also confirmed the layoff at WhiteHat Jr, but declined to reveal just how many employees were impacted at either of the startups it acquired. Entrackr first reported about the layoff at Toppr.

Byju’s, which has spent $2.5 billion acquiring about a dozen startups in the past one year and a half, did not immediately say whether more layoffs are in the works or planned for the immediate future.

The Wednesday development marks the latest in a growing series of layoffs among Indian startups.

BlinkIt, formerly known as Grofers, a struggling online grocer, online learning platforms Unacademy, Eruditus and Vedantu, cars marketplace Cars24, e-commerce marketplace Udaan, fintech Rupeek, social commerce Meesho and online pharmacy PharmEasy are among startups that have let go employees in recent weeks.

Jobs of about 11,000 employees in India have been eliminated this year due to the market correction (or so has been the single most popular excuse), according to estimates.

Investors in India, as is the case elsewhere, have significantly slowed the pace of their investments as tech stocks globally fall to a level not seen in recent years.

James Murdoch firm invests $600 million in India’s Allen Career Institute

Bodhi Tree is taking a $600 million stake in Allen Career Institute as James Murdoch and former Disney executive Uday Shankar’s investment platform expands its bet on India’s growing edtech market, they said Sunday. The duo said their investment in the 33-year-old education brand, which operates 138 classroom centers in 46 cities in India and Middle East, is strategic in nature.

Allen — which helps prepare students looking to crack prestigious exams such as IIT JEE Mains & Advanced, NEET-UG, KVPY and the Olympiads — said it will work with Bodhi Tree to broaden its test-prep offering and “deliver at-scale positive impact for millions of students in test-prep and K12 segments, using technology as the core driver of value.”

The deal values Allen at over $1 billion, a person familiar with the matter said, but TechCrunch could not determine the precise valuation.

Allen runs one of the largest coaching institutes in India. The firm competes with Aakash, which Indian edtech giant Byju’s acquired last year for nearly $1 billion. Indian online platform Unacademy, last valued at $3.4 billion, explored acquiring Allen earlier, according to two people familiar with the matter.

“Since its inception, Allen has focused on providing high quality education to students to help them achieve their highest potential and fulfil their career aspirations,” said Rajesh Maheshwari, founder of Allen, in a statement. “In the process, we have helped create hundreds of thousands of doctors and engineers, who contribute to building India and the society of today. Our partnership with Bodhi Tree is an essential ingredient in furthering our mission to significantly increase Allen’s reach and impact.”

The investment in Allen is the second backing Bodhi Tree has announced this week. On Wednesday, the firm said it was investing $1.78 billion in Mukesh Ambani-backed television network Viacom18.

“Education is a critical consumer need, driven by its deeply transformative impact on lives and livelihoods of consumers,” Murdoch and Shankar said in a joint statement.

“We believe that education is on the cusp of a technology led renaissance that will fundamentally alter how education is imparted and will increase its efficacy. Allen’s unrivaled success and scale provide the right foundation to build the digital education company of the future. We are excited to work with the Maheshwari family to build an outcomes-focused digital education company that delivers on the aspirations of millions of learners and parents in India and beyond.”

The duo — who through Lupa have invested in a number of Indian startups including short-video platform and news aggregator DailyHunt and edtech DoubtNut — announced Bodhi Tree, a $1.5 billion investment firm, in February this year. The firm, backed by the Gulf State’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, seeks to focus on investing in India and the broader Southeast Asia region.