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UpGrad enters unicorn club; raises $185 million from Temasek, IFC

UpGrad has entered the unicorn club, post raising $185 million Temasek, IFC, and IIFL at a valuation of $1.2 billion.

“We are pleased with the investor interest ever since we opened up for a fundraiser and had our maiden raise from Temasek, followed by IFC and IIFL in the last 60 days. We will announce further updates on mergers and acquisitions and unlocking value as they unfold,” said Ronnie Screwvala, chairperson and co-founder, upGrad.

Screwvala, who is not a big fan of the term unicorn — used for startups with a valuation exceeding $1 billion in May told Moneycontrol that unicorns were nothing more than just an artificial tag.

“Unicorn is like the clap, clap, clap emoji that you have on your phone. It’s an artificial thing. That’s how I look at a unicorn because what the hell does that mean, in any sense of the word? Yes, you got valued because five or seven investors feel that this is the best way that they want to come out there and invest,” he told Moneycontrol while talking on the podcast Setting Sail.

Announcing the fundraise, Screwvala reiterated that the company wasn’t a fan of the tag name unicorn, “for us, it is only a means to a much larger goal,” he said.

The company is currently focussing on higher education which is everything above K12. It aspires to 1 billion workforces across the age group of 18 to 60 years across the globe.

“The main point is there’s an entire market of working professionals; one-third of the people take their graduation degree, two-thirds don’t even do that. Now you’ve got an opportunity. Every working professional will have to upgrade themselves and learn something more, go back to college at least three to four times in their life. If you look at that size of the market, it is massive not just in India but around the world. And it’s only going to get disrupted from digital and online,” Screwvala told Moneycontrol in May.

“So, you get the best of faculty; you have phenomenal technology, you have a deep learning experience. And that is really going to radically change the landscape for learning and lifelong learning than anything else. And that’s pretty much what we want to do not just in India, but around the world,”  he added.

UpGrad competes with companies like Unacademy and Byju’s. Interestingly Temasek only led a $440 million round announced by Unacademy earlier this month at a valuation of $3.4 billion.

Byju’s, on the other hand, became India’s most valuable internet startup with a valuation of $16.5 billion post its funding round in June. It raised $350 million from UBS, private equity giant Blackstone, Abu Dhabi state fund ADQ, Phoenix Rising, and Zoom’s founder Eric Yuan video conference firm.

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