Mark Zuckerberg leads $50 mn infusion into Byju's, says learning is a key focus area - Firstpost

Mark Zuckerberg leads $50 mn infusion into Byju's, says learning is a key focus area

New Delhi: Online education start-up Byju's has raised $50 million (about $332.3 crore) from a clutch of investors, led by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and Sequoia Capital. Other participants in the series D funding included Sofina, Lightspeed Ventures and Times Internet Ltd.

Mark Zuckerberg. File photo. PTI

Mark Zuckerberg. File photo. PTI

The new round, which comes within months of a $75 million fund raise from Sequoia Capital and Sofina, will be deployed to fuel international expansion in countries like the US and the UK. It already has a presence in the Middle East.

"We will deploy the fund to fuel international expansion and inspire additional funding from leading companied the world over," said Byju founder and Chief Executive Byju Raveendran in a statement.

This is the first investment of CZI, the philanthropic arm of the online social media network Facebook's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, in Asia.

The year-old start-up, however, did not disclose the amount of investment made by CZI and each of the four partners to its first round of funding.

"Our application (K-12 app), which has registered 5.5 million downloads, has 250,000 paid annual subscribers across the country," said Raveendran.

The K-12 app offers learning programmes for students in classes 4-12 and competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT.

"Our K-12 app is reinventing how students learn in the age of mobile devices, as our approach combines teachers, pedagogical methods and data science to deliver personalised learning, feedback and assessments for school students," said Raveendran.

Noting that Indian families work hard to give their children education for a better future, CZI's Vivian Wu said Byju's represented an opportunity to help more students develop love for learning and unlock their potential.

"The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports innovative models of learning wherever they are around the world," said CZI's Vivian Wu, who will join Byju's board. Byju's represents an opportunity to help even more students develop a love for learning and unlock their potential, he added.

Meanwhile, explaining the rationale behind investing in the Indian education technology startup, Mark Zuckerberg said in an FB post said he was optimistic about the personalised learning sector.

"I'm optimistic about personalized learning and the difference it can make for students everywhere. That's why it's a major focus of our education efforts, and why we're looking forward to working with companies like BYJU's to get these tools into the hands of more students and teachers around the world," he said.

Byju's had raised $9 million from Aarin Capital in 2013, followed by Series B funding of $25 million from Sequoia Capital last year.

The company is profitable in India with an month-on-month growth of 15 percent.

"Revenues in the first five months of this financial year (FY2017) has already crossed the FY16 revenue of Rs 120 crore," the company said.

The company delivers original content, video lessons and interactive activities for students in classes 4-12 (K-12) and competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT. Its app has been downloaded over 5.5 million times and has reached 2.5 lakh annual subscribers across India.

"Our vision closely aligns with their vision of advancing human potential and promoting equality," Byju's founder and CEO Byju Raveendran said.


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