Startups

Byju’s to acquire edtech pioneer TutorVista

Education-technology startup Byju’s is in advanced talks to acquire parts of TutorVista from British publishing and education firm Pearson, according to two people aware of the developments.

The negotiations, one of them said, are in the final stages and include the online business of technology-enabled education solutions provider Edurite that TutorVista acquired in 2007. “The agreement is signed and Byju’s is doing the due diligence post the agreement,“ this person said.

Byju’s, backed by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative and flush with cash after a recent fundraising, is seeking to expand internationally. TutorVista, which counts the United States as its biggest market, could provide it a base to build upon.

Pearson is struggling with its education business and in February reported a pretax loss of £2.6 billion for 2016 following a writedown on the value of its US higher education and testing business.

Pearson, a former owner of the FT Group and The Economist, acquired a 17% stake in TutorVista from Bengaluru-based entrepreneur-investor couple K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh in 2009. In January 2011, it purchased another 59% holding for Rs 577 crore before increasing its controlling stake to 80% shortly after. Two years later, Pearson acquired the remaining 20%.

The edtech pioneer provides online tutoring to students across the world as well as test preparation services, help with homework and supplemental tutoring and expert assistance before tests and exams.

Bengaluru-based Byju’s, founded in 2011, is present in the Middle East and is looking to expand to the US, the UK, South Africa and other African and Commonwealth markets. “In the last 18 months, we have witnessed exponential growth in India.

Byju’s, which has raised $204 million till date, also counts Sofina, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures and Times Internet Ltd, part of the Times Group that publishes The Economic Times, among investors.

The education company’s mobile application, launched in 2015, offers visual and interactive content for students in classes 4 to 12 as well as for those preparing for competitive exams including to engineering and management schools.

Byju’s – The Learning App has about eight million users, including about 400,000 paying subscribers, according to the company.

The edtech startup recently launched an app for students in classes four and five called Byju’s Math App. It also recently acquired Bengaluru-based Vidyartha, a data-driven platform offering customised learning guidance to students.

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