Byju’s Buys Smaller Peer For $300 Million As It Eyes Coding For Children

Byju’s said it will invest in the technology platform and product innovation of WhiteHat Jr, a Mumbai-based startup.

Students sit in front of computers during a computer and information technology class. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)
Students sit in front of computers during a computer and information technology class. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

India’s largest ed-tech startup has acquired a small peer for about $300 million as it aims to expand its reach at a time when online education startups are witnessing explosive growth amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Byju’s said in a statement on Wednesday that it has acquired Mumbai-based WhiteHat Jr in an all-cash deal, without disclosing the deal size. According to one person in the know, that was at about $300 million.

The ed-tech startup said it will invest in WhiteHat Jr’s technology platform and product innovation while expanding the teacher base to cater to demand from new markets. The acquisition will also help it to double down on its U.S. expansion plans.

Karan Bajaj, founder of WhiteHat Jr, will continue to lead and scale the business in India, the statement said.

Founded in November 2018, WhiteHat Jr helps children aged between 6 and 14 years build commercial-ready games, animation and applications online using the fundamentals of coding. The 18-month-old platform had so far raised about $11 million from Omidyar Network and Nexus Venture Partners.

The acquisition will also allow Byju’s to launch coding—a fast-growing segment among the K-12 (Kindergarten to 12th class) section—to children on its platform.

“WhiteHat Jr is the leader in the live online coding space. Karan has proven his mettle as an exceptional founder and the credit goes to him and his team for creating coding programs that are loved by kids,” Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju's, was quoted as saying in the statement. “Under his leadership, the company has achieved phenomenal growth in India and the US in a short span of time.”

India’s online education startups in the country are having their moment of reckoning as a raging coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdowns shuttered schools across the country, forcing children and parents to switch to online education.

The investment also comes little over a month after Byju’s raised funds from Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker's fund Bond Capital, valuing it at over $10 billion. Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Byjus’ is in talks with DST Global to raise $400 millon.

Byju’s, whose investors include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers Ltd. and others, was founded by Byju Raveendran in 2011, a former teacher.

The platform started with a smartphone app to help students learn and master concepts from mathematics and science using short videos. It has now ventured into offering students a variety of programmes, including online coaching for competitive exams such as the Common Aptitude Test and the Indian Administrative Services.