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

Online learning platform Byju’s is on an acquisition spree as the industry is moving toward consolidation amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of schools and colleges.

The country’s highest-valued startup has acquired Singapore-based professional education platform Great Learning and school learning app Toppr for US$600 million and $150 million respectively, according to media reports.

The Bangalore-based company acquired Great Learning in a cash-and-stock deal and the latter will remain an independent unit headed by its founder and CEO, Mohan Lakhamraju, and co-founders Hari Nair and Arjun Nair. Toppr too has been bought with two-thirds of acquisition in stocks and the rest in cash, the Economic Times reported.

The acquisition of Great Learning marks Byju’s strong push into the learning sector globally with a total commitment of $1 billion. This acquisition will pit Byju’s against Simplilearn and UpGrad, the current major players in the reskilling and upskilling segment.

Byju’s founder and CEO Byju Raveendran said: “Empowering learners with the right futuristic skills forms a fundamental part of our vision. Great Learning is a globally recognized and reputed professional education company and this partnership expands our reach into this new segment.”

Great Learning CEO Mohan Lakhamraju said: “Together with Byju’s, we will be able to accelerate our progress towards this goal and meet the growing need for upskilling both in India and around the world.”

Founded in 2013, Great Learning provides higher learning degree, diploma and certificate courses across domains such as data science, digital marketing, artificial intelligence and machine learning. It works with more than 500 corporate partners for their upskilling and talent needs and has a presence in about 160 countries.

Mumbai-based Toppr is a smaller rival of Byju’s and has 35 million users, up from 15 million in pre-Covid days. Founded in 2013 by Zishaan Hayath and Hemanth Goteti, Toppr runs a learning app for school children from kindergarten to 12th grade and last year launched School OS, an operating system for schools to run online.

Byju’s has now spent more than $2 billion on acquisitions in the last six months. It has acquired six startups this year in India as well as the US. Barely a week ago Byju’s acquired US-based online reading platform for children Epic for $500 million. In April, Byju’s made its largest acquisition of $1 billion to buy offline-learning platform Aakash Educational Services Ltd.

It now has a good presence in three segments – schools, test prep and upskilling and aims to scale up its operations globally. In April, Byju’s launched online learning platform “Future School” in the US, the UK, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.

Byju’s was valued at $16.5 billion in June and has overtaken digital payments provider Paytm to become India’s most valuable startup. Paytm is valued at $16 billion. Its major investors include UBS Group, Tencent, Blackstone Group and Tiger Global, among others.