Byju Raveendran, the founder of Byju's, the Bangalore-based educational technology start-up, at the company's premises in Bangalore. Photo: AFP / Manjunath Kiran

India’s leading e-learning platform Byju’s continues to increase its footprint in the US with a series of acquisitions. In its latest move, Byju’s has bought California-based Epic, a digital reading platform for children.

Epic is used by 50 million children, aged below 12, and two million teachers and has a presence across 90% of elementary schools in the US. Its CEO Suren Markosian and co-founder Kevin Donahue will remain in their roles and the acquisition is a combination of cash and stock.

Started in 2013, the Redwood City-based Epic now has more than 40,000 digital books from 250 publishers. It also collects and analyzes real-time data on how many children read a book and their engagement levels.

From last year onwards, Epic’s growth has been meteoric with its user base soaring from 20 million children to 50 million now.

Byju’s founder and CEO Byju Raveendran said: “Our partnership with Epic will enable us to create engaging and interactive reading and learning experiences for children globally. Our mission is to fuel curiosity and make students fall in love with learning.

“Knowing that Epic and its products are rooted in the same mission, it was a natural fit.”

The company also said this acquisition will enable Byju’s to become a natural part of America’s learning culture.

Epic CEO Markosian said: “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. The alignment of our missions and shared passion makes Byju’s the perfect partner, as we’re confident this acquisition will ignite excitement for learning around the world.”

Byju’s now has more than 100 million students on its platform worldwide and plans to invest $1 billion in North America. It also has plans to bring Epic to India.

The Bangalore-based startup was valued at $16.5 billion in June and has overtaken digital payments provider Paytm to become India’s most valuable start-up. Paytm is valued at $16 billion.

In June, Byju’s had secured close to $350 million in fresh funding from a clutch of investors including UBS Group, Blackstone, Abu Dhabi state fund ADQ and others. The company has raised about $1.5 billion since the pandemic broke last year.

Byju’s made its first move into the US in 2019 after it acquired learning platform Osmo for $120 million and later bought online coding platform WhiteHat Jr for $300 million.

In India, Byju’s had made a host of acquisitions in the last two years, including offline coaching platform Aakash Aakash Educational Services for nearly $1 billion. The company had acquired its rival Toppr for about $100 million, but the deal has not yet been formally announced.

It is also reportedly having discussions to acquire other related businesses including Great Learning and Gradeup.

According to a recent report by EY-IVCA, the market size of India’s ed-tech sector is estimated to grow by 3.7 times in the next five years, to touch $10.4 billion by 2025 from $2.8 billion in 2020. The segment will see more than 37 million paid users by 2025.