Edtech Decacorn Byju’s Acquires WhiteHat Jr For US$300M In All-Cash Deal

WhiteHat Jr was also reportedly in talks to raise US$50 million at a valuation of $350 million

India-based Byju’s, the world’s most valuable edtech startup, has acquired Mumbai-based 18-month-old coding platform WhiteHat Jr, Byju’s announced in a press release yesterday.

The acquisition will allow the edtech decacorn to expand its offerings in India and accelerate its expansion plans, according to the statement. A report by TechCrunch places the value of the all-cash deal at US$300 million.

WhiteHat Jr will operate as a separate entity for now. Founder and CEO Karan Bajaj, who is a bestselling author and the former CEO of Discovery Networks India, will continue to lead and scale the business in India and the U.S., according to the statement.

COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the use and need for technology every day. Recognizing this trend and the need for skilled employees in the future, the Government of India recently introduced the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which plans to introduce middle school students to coding, and also increase students’ exposure to technology.

In this context, Byju’s acquisition of WhiteHat Jr is timely as it would enable Byju’s to tap into the demand for children’s coding classes likely to be created by the NEP.

According to the statement, Byju’s will make significant post-acquisition investments in WhiteHat Jr’s technology platform and product innovation, while expanding its teacher base to cater to demand from new markets.

“We started WhiteHat Jr to make kids creators instead of consumers of technology. Technology is at the center of every human interaction today and we had set out to create a coding curriculum that was being delivered live and connected students and teachers like never before,” explained Bajaj.

Founded in 2018, WhiteHat Jr helps children between 6-14 years to build commercial-ready games, animation, and apps online using the fundamentals of coding—logic, structure, sequence, commands, and algorithmic thinking—in live one-on-one online classrooms.

WhiteHat Jr offers four levels of courses for students from grades 1-9, namely Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Professional. Early graduates of the courses, aged as young as seven years, have created professional and ready-to-use apps that can be downloaded on the App Store, the press release noted.

It added that WhiteHat Jr launched its online one-to-one coding classes in the U.S. in February this year and has been growing at over 100% month-on-month in the country. The startup also announced plans to expand to other global markets including Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, after its success in the U.S.

WhiteHat Jr also claims to have achieved an annual run rate of $150 million, according to TechCrunch.

The startup had previously raised $11 million to date from Omidyar Network, Owl Ventures, and Nexus Venture Partners, and was reportedly in talks to raise fresh funding of $50 million at a valuation of $350 million.

According to a report by Economic Times, the startup had held discussions with multiple venture capital and private equity investors including Sequoia Capital, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, Renuka Ramnath-led Multiples Alternate Asset Management, Tiger Global Management, and Steadview Capital, among others.

Commenting on the acquisition, Bajaj said in the statement, “Integration with a visionary company such as Byju’s will help take this idea to new heights and help unleash the remarkable creative potential of kids at a global scale.”

Edtech giant Byju’s was founded in 2015 and currently has 64 million students cumulatively learning from the app, 4.2 million annual paid subscriptions, and an annual renewal rate of 85%. It doubled its revenue from INR 1430 crores to INR 2800 crore (approximately US$370 million) in FY 2019-20, according to the press release.

Byju’s creates personalized learning programs for individual students based on their proficiency levels and capabilities which allow them to learn at their own pace and style.

Last month, the startup launched Byju’s Classes, an online tutoring program to address the need for personalized after-school learning solutions, with scheduled engagements from India’s top teachers, live doubt solving, and personalized mentoring.

Since the lockdown, over 15 million new students have started using Byju’s platform, and the company earned over INR 500 crore (approximately US$66 million) in revenue last month alone, according to the statement.

The startup also raised an undisclosed amount last month from Mary Meeker-founded Bond Capital and has raised over $500 million this year, pushing its valuation to $10.5 billion.

“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’s Founder Byju Raveendran said.

“Empowering children with the right future skills has always been part of our vision at Byju’s and coding fits well into this. WhiteHat Jr’s coding product capabilities, combined with our pedagogy, expertise, and scale, will help expand our learning offerings for school students,” he added.

Header image courtesy of Byju’s

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