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Byju’s acquires US-based reading startup Epic for $500m

Byju’s, India’s most valued internet company, said on July 21 it had acquired US-based reading platform Epic for $500 million, continuing its spree of large acquisitions to expand its education services beyond the Indian market and across categories.

Epic is built on a collection of over 40,000 popular, high-quality books from 250 of the world’s best publishers. Its recommendations are customized to the child’s interests, and parents can track progress and see the time spent reading. It also has original stories which will appeal to kids. The cash and the stock breakup of the deal were not specified.

“Epic’s model for inspiring the next generation through interactive reading is in lockstep with our mission to help millions of children become life-long learners,” said Anita Kishore, Chief Strategy Officer, Byju’s.

Byju’s said it will invest a billion dollars in North America and considers the region one of its most lucrative markets. This is not Byju’s first foray into the US. In 2019 it acquired educational games-maker Osmo, another US-based firm, for $120 million.

Last year Byju also acquired coding startup WhiteHat Jr., which also considers the US a key market. Byju’s last month launched Future School, an online one-on-one live learning platform for math and coding. Future School is led by Karan Bajaj, founder, and CEO of WhiteHat Jr.

“We created Epic to make quality books more accessible to kids everywhere and to build a safe place for them to discover the joy and magic of reading in their own way…Together (with Byju’s), we can help empower future generations of kids by fostering a lifetime love for reading and learning,” said Suren Markosian, CEO and co-founder of Epic.

Large acquisitions have become the bedrock of Byju’s, valued at $16.5 billion last month, raising $350 million from UBS, private equity giant Blackstone, Abu Dhabi state fund ADQ, Phoenix Rising, and video conference firm Zoom’s founder Eric Yuan. The deal made Byju’s India’s most valuable internet firm ahead of fintech company Paytm.

In the last year, Byju has made acquisitions worth over $2 billion, including offline test prep firm Aakash, WhiteHat Jr., smaller K12-rival Toppr, GradeUp, and Great Learning. Some of these deals have been reported by other publications, and not all of them have been announced yet.

“Reading fluency is fundamental for academic development because problems with this skill can interfere with a student’s ability to learn other subjects as they make their way through later grades,” Byju’s statement said.

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