The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), founded by Facebook founderMark Zuckerberg and his wife,Priscilla Chan, is making its first investment in Asia in Bengaluru-based Byju’s, a learning app.CZI will co-invest in the $50-million round in Byju’s along with Sequoia Capital, Sofina+ , Lightspeed Ventures andTimes Internet, the digital arm of the Times Group. Byju’s had raised $75 million from Sequoia and Sofina in March this year.
The latest round of funding is said to have valued the company at around $500 million. The company declined to confirm the valuation. Byju’s will use the $125-million funding corpus of the last two rounds for international acquisitions and expansion in other English-speaking countries, its founder Byju Raveendran told TOI. He said the company has generated Rs 120-crore revenue in the first five months of the current fiscal year and the India operations are making profits.
“The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative supports innovative models of learning wherever they are around the world,” said Vivian Wu of CZI, who will join Byju’s board. “Education can give young people and their families a path to a better future, and families in India work hard to give their children that chance. Byju’s represents an opportunity to help even more students develop a love for learning and unlock their potential.”
Satyan Gajwani, vice-chairman of Times Internet, said: “Byju and team are democratizing access to high quality education. Times have always believed in the power of digital education and its potential social impact for India. We are excited to join him in his journey, along with Mark and others.
Byju’s was founded in 2011 as a test preparation business, helping CAT aspirants crack the exam. It expanded into other competitive exams and for many years operated through physical classrooms. It also moved on to video classes a few years ago. But the big explosion in reach happened with the launch of a mobile app last year. The learning app saw over 5.5 million downloads and 250,000 paid annual subscribers within a year of its launch. The app helps in effective learning programmes for students from classes 4 to 12 and competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT.
“What Zuckerberg liked about us is that we have consumers in over 1,200 towns in the country and not just in metros. We also had a retention rate of 90% of our last year’s consumers,” Raveendran said. CZI was launched to advance human potential and promote equality, makes private investments and participates in policy debates. Read More