Byju’s is planning to raise another $500-600 million and is in talks with Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds and existing investors to participate in the funding round, as the educational technology (edtech) giant targets profitability by March next year, say sources.
The development comes at a time when the Bengaluru-based firm recently raised $250 million from Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and existing investors. The valuation of the firm had remained the same at $22 billion in this round.
“There is no change in Byju’s valuation. The new fundraising process is still going on,” said a person familiar with the matter. “Any new valuation would be determined in the future as it is very tough for investors to do that in this environment.”
Abu Dhabi’s state holding company ADQ has already invested in Byju’s. In June 2021, Byju’s raised $350 million from ADQ, UBS, private equity giant Blackstone, Phoenix Rising and video conference firm Zoom’s founder Eric Yuan. The funding helped Byju’s to become the most valuable internet startup with a valuation of $16.5 billion, surpassing fintech firm Paytm’s $16 billion valuation, which later went for an initial public offering (IPO).
Byju’s didn’t respond when asked to comment on the company’s fundraising plans.
Byju’s raised $800 million in a funding round this March, with founder and CEO Byju Raveendran bringing in half of it. The firm’s valuation rose to $22 billion from $18 billion earlier. Raveendran was in talks with various international and domestic banks to raise $400 million as a loan to fund 50 per cent of the $800 million funding round, according to people familiar with the development.
In 2019, Byju’s received an investment of $150 million led by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar.
This year in March, Byju’s and QIA partnered to launch a new edtech business and state-of-the-art research and development centre in Doha. The new entity in Doha will drive research and innovation to create cutting-edge learning solutions customized for students in the and MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) region. Byju’s had also been announced as an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Through this partnership, Byju’s will leverage its rights to the FIFA World Cup 2022 marks, emblem, and assets, and run unique promotions to connect with passionate football fans around the world.
Byju’s has raised total funding of about $5.7 billion from investors like Sumeru Ventures, Vitruvian Partners, BlackRock, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia, Silver Lake, Bond Capital, Tencent, General Atlantic, Tiger Global, and QIA. The firm has over 150 million learners.
Byju’s founder and CEO Byju Raveendran recently said the firm is in a sweet spot of its growth story where unit economics and the economies of scale are both in its favour. He said this means the capital the company would invest now in its business will result in profitable growth and create sustainable social impact.
The move comes amid a funding winter freeze and steep losses. The edtech firm booked losses of Rs 4,588 crore for 2020-21 (FY21), 19x more than the preceding year, according to its latest financial report. The firm, earned Rs 2,428 crore in revenue in FY21. Its adjusted revenue in 2019-20 was Rs 2,511 crore; the adjusted loss Rs 300 crore.
Byju’s is now set to lay off nearly 2,500, or 5 per cent, of its workforce as part of an ‘optimisation’ drive.It has embarked on the path to achieving group-level profitability by March next year with a three-pronged approach.
It is bringing the K10 subsidiaries — Meritnation, TutorVista, Scholar, and HashLearn — under the India business unit. Other acquisitions Aakash and Great Learning would function separately. The company is also realigning marketing spending to enhance its global footprint.
The firm also plans to hire 10,000 teachers in the next six months, adding to the current strength of 20,000 teachers. The company is also expanding its teams, besides hiring senior leadership, to further build operational strength.
The firm said that it has already started shifting its focus toward profitable growth. It said revenue of $2 billion was within sight of the firm and that the company’s FY22 revenue was nearly Rs 10,000 crore, or $1.3 billion.