Bengaluru-based Indian EdTech unicorn Byju’s acquired engineering, medical test prep firm Aakash for $1 billion on Monday. Byju’s’ acquisition of Aakash holds a significance in the business acquisition space as it’s not every day that a decade old EdTech firm acquires a 33-year-old company that has a chain of physical coaching centres.
The news of the two giants in Education sector in India now working together through acquisition comes just a few days after it was reported that Byju’s had raised Rs. 3,328 crores ($460 million) in its series F funding round. Investment companies like MC Global EdTech Investment, B Capital and Baron led the series F round of investment of Byju’s. With its $460 million funding, Byju’s was also reported as being India’s second highest valued unicorn, trailing behind Paytm.
Byju’s, currently valued at $13 billion, acquired Aakash and paid “close to $1 billion” in both cash and equity options (sources familiar to TechCrunch suggest Byju’s paid $600 million in cash and remaining in stocks). If the reports are to be believed, this acquisition can be considered one of the largest in the Indian EdTech space.
Aakash’s capital was pumped by a firm called the Blackstone Group. Blackstone Group is a private equity firm which invested $500 million in Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL). Currently Aakash has over 200 physical coaching centres across the country and provides students of 10th and 12th class engineering and medical test preparation services which can help them in exams like NEET, JEE.
Moreover, like any successful coaching would do, In the past few years, Aakash has also been offering courses to students that are in 8th-10th standards. The company offers all of these in physical coaching centres and their course offerings are managed under 3 brands namely Aakash Foundation, Aakash Medical, Aakash-IIT-JEE. According to the data released by the company, Aakash currently serves over 2,50,000 students.
Meanwhile, Byju’s prepares students who are pursuing both undergraduate, graduate and school-level courses with its online services and serves over 80 million users currently. During the COVID-19 induced lockdown, Byju’s actually ended up adding 45 million new students with a renewal rate of a whopping 86%. Thus, it should come to no one’s surprise that the company also ended up generating a revenue worth $100 million last year. Byju’s is backed by Lightspeed Ventures, Naspers and has also received backing from Mark Zuckerberg’s renowned Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.
Aakash had in the last few years made some effort to bring its offerings online, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, right from the students’ preferences to the logistics of having conducting physical classes, everything changed. This transformation made the top-executive of Aakash and Byju’s explore a deal more than six months from today.
Post-acquisition, Aakash Chaudhry, MD of Aakash Educational said that Aakash and Byju’s coming together will have a substantial positive impact on students. He also said that the leadership at the company will continue operating within the firm after the acquisition.
“Students who have wanted to access physical classrooms have gotten that from us. And those who wanted to access content and learning online has been served by Byju’s. Together, we will leverage the physical location and technology and online learning and offer students that is unique,” he added.
After the acquisition Byju’s co-founder and CEO issued a statement saying, “Our complementary strengths will enable us to build capabilities, create engaging and personalized learning programs. The future of learning is hybrid and this union will bring together the best of offline and online learning, as we combine our expertise to create impactful experiences for students.