Byju’s makes $300 million offer to acquire WhiteHat Jr, Technology News, ETtech

Byju's makes $300 million offer to acquire WhiteHat Jr
Think and Learn, which owns and operates ed-tech platform Byju’s, has made a $300 million all-cash offer to acquire smaller peer WhiteHat Jr, a week after the Bengaluru-headquartered unicorn closed a new funding round from Bond, the investment firm led by storied Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker.

The development comes at a time when WhiteHat Jr is already in the market to raise $50 million in fresh financing, and has held discussions with a number of notable venture capital and private equity firms, including Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, Steadview Capital, GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Singapore and Renuka Ramnath-led Multiples Alternate Asset Management. The startup is looking to raise cash for investors at a $350 million valuation.

Founded in 2018 by Karan Bajaj, the former chief executive of Discovery Networks India, WhiteHat Jr operates in the K-12 segment, teaching students to code, and helping them build commercial-ready games, animations and apps using the fundamentals of coding. The startup has developed a proprietary coding curriculum, focused on product creation, and imparts lessons through live, interactive online classes.

“WhiteHat Jr continues to be in talks with multiple investors. Byju’s is a later entrant to the table,” a source aware of the developments, told ET on the condition of anonymity. The Mumbai-based company’s efforts to raise capital was first broken by ET in its edition dated May 21.

An email sent to Byju’s on Friday evening did not elicit any response at the time of going to press, while messages sent to a WhiteHat Jr spokesperson did not receive any replies.

Additionally, Byju’s has also been reported to be in advanced stages of negotiations to acquire Doubtnut, a two-year-old learning app, for as much up to $150 million, in what is also expected to be an all-cash transaction.

The company, which is valued at about $10.5 billion, has been on a capital raising spree over the course of the current calendar year, with a significant portion of the proceeds expected to be utilised to fund acquisitions, across markets, as it ramps up its bouquet of products, and enters new geographies.

While Bond is believed to have put in less than $100 million in Byju’s, the Bengaluru-led company, which also counts the likes of Tiger Global Management, General Atlantic, Naspers, Verlinvest, Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners among its list of investors, has already raised $400-$450 million in the first six months of 2020.

WhiteHat Jr which last raised capital in late 2019 from Silicon Valley-based investor Owl Ventures, Omidyar Network and Nexus Venture Partners, has, till date, raised a shade over $11 million across its seed and Series A rounds.

Incidentally, both companies count San Francisco and Sand Hill Road-based Owl Ventures, an education-focused investment firm, as a common investor.

India’s education technology sector has been seeing unprecedented investor interest as a direct result of the increased digitisation of education amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, ET, citing sources, reported that online live tutoring platform Vedantu has held talks to close a $100 million financing round, led by US investor Coatue Management, valuing the live online tutoring service at $600 million, multiple people in the know said.





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