Online higher and professional education course provider Great Learning is looking at acquisitions as a critical growth driver, much like its parent firm Byju’s that has snapped up 10 companies so far this year.
Singapore-based Great Learning is in the final stages of closing two deals, one of which will be announced before the end of this month, founder and CEO Mohan Lakhamraju told Business Today.
It will make one buy in India and one in a foreign market this fiscal. One of the upcoming deals is a big-ticket transaction in the range of $100 million.
“We are looking at businesses that can expand our capabilities, it could be geographical expansion, segment expansion and tech capability expansion. We are only evaluating companies that have proven product market fit with a track record. We are looking at some that are leaders in the market, some that will bring specific capabilities to our offerings, Lakhamraju said.
The company is currently looking at potential acquisition targets in many of its international markets. India accounts for about 50 per cent of its revenue, followed by US and a slew of other global markets spread across 160 countries.
Byju's acquired Great Learning for $600 million in a cash, stock and earnout deal in July and committed $400 million of additional investment into the company to speed up its growth in domestic and global markets.
The company develops learning programs in collaboration with leading academic institutions like MIT, Stanford, The University of Texas at Austin, National University of Singapore, IIT Madras, and IIT Bombay. It offers these programs in blended mode, classroom mode and in purely online mode.
He said the company is chasing an ambitious 10x growth in four years.
“Byju is very ambitious and he wants us to grow faster. While there’s no change operationally as we continue to do what we were doing, we have grown bigger, have more resources and our ambition is bigger now. We are accelerating our global growth, making acquisitions in India and in global markets. The mandate is to get 10 times bigger in four years,” Lakhamraju said.
He further added that the company has been doubling every year so far and with Byju's, it is now aggressively investing on global expansion, higher education degrees, and enterprise learning.
Lakhamraju said the company is run as a separate unit as it is building out the higher education vertical in Byju's. “We are starting a new division within Byju's, so other acquisitions that we are now going to make in this space will be integrated with Great Learning," he said.
He claimed the number of learners on the platform has grown from 50,000 at the beginning of pandemic to 3 million learners currently. “We are adding 100,000 new learners a week. We have paid learners from 90 countries and registered users from 170 countries. We offer 60 paid programs and 820 free programs. At the beginning of the pandemic, free programs were zero. We have 1200 corporate partners, hiring on our platform. Every month, 20,000 jobs are being offered on the platform,” Lakhamraju claimed.
Great Learning claims to have crossed the revenue run rate of $100 million in FY21.
According to CB Insights’ latest unicorn tracker, BY
Great Learning's parent Byju's is now the 13th most valuable start-up in the world. The Bengaluru-based company is valued at $21 billion, which also makes it the world’s most valuable edtech start-up.
Great Learning was Byju’s second-largest acquisition. The company paid nearly $1 billion, in its biggest buy till date, to acquire test-prep leader Aakash Educational Services in April this year. In the past, the Byju Raveendran-founded decacorn had acquired California-headquartered reading platform Epic for $500 million, Silicon Valley-based Tynker for $200 million, coding training platform WhiteHat Jr for $300 million, and online learning firm Toppr for $150 million.
In its most recent acquisition, the company bought Austria-headquartered learning platform GeoGebra for an undisclosed sum this month.
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