Great Learning eyes acquisition as key growth drive

184
3
Great Learning eyes acquisition as key growth drive

The online higher and professional education course provider Great Learning is looking at acquisitions as a key growth driver, much like its parent company Byju s, which has snapped up 10 companies so far this year.

One of the two deals announced by Singapore-based Great Learning will be announced before the end of the month, founder and CEO Mohan Lakhamraju told Business Today.

This fiscal year it will make one buy in India and one in a foreign market. One big deal is expected to be a big-ticket transaction in the range of $100 million.

It could be geographical expansion, segment expansion and tech capability expansion, but we are looking at businesses that can expand our capabilities. We only evaluate companies that have proven product market fit with a track record. Lakhamraju said we are looking at some leaders in the market, some that will bring specific capabilities to our offerings.

The company is looking at potential acquisition targets in many of its international markets. India accounts for about 50 per cent of its revenue, followed by the US and a slew of other global markets spread across 160 countries.

In July, Byju acquired Great Learning for $600 million in cash, stock and earnout and committed $400 million of additional investment into the company to speed up its growth in domestic and global markets.

It develops learning programs in collaboration with leading academic institutions like MIT, Stanford, The University of Texas at Austin, National University of Singapore, IIT Madras, and IIT Bombay. It offers these programs in blended mode, classroom mode, and purely online mode.

He said the company is chasing an ambitious 10 x growth in the next four years.

Byju wants to grow faster and is very ambitious. We have grown bigger, have more resources and our ambition is bigger now, as there is no change operationally as we continue to do what we were doing. We are accelerating global growth by making acquisitions in India and global markets. The mandate is to get 10 times bigger in four years, Lakhamraju said.

He said that the company has been doubling every year and with Byju's is now investing heavily in global expansion, higher education degrees, and enterprise learning.

Lakhamraju said that the company is run as a separate unit as it is building out the higher education vertical in Byju's. He said that because we are starting a new division within Byju's, so other acquisitions that we are going to make in this space will be integrated with Great Learning.

He said that the number of learners on the platform has gone from 50,000 to 3 million learners at the beginning of the epidemic. We have added 100,000 new learners a week. We have paid learners from 90 countries and registered users from 170 countries. We offer 60 paid programs and 820 free programs. Free programs were zero at the beginning of the epidemic. There are 1200 corporate partners who are hiring on our platform. 20,000 jobs are offered on the platform every month, according to Lakhamraju.

Great Learning has crossed the revenue run rate of $100 million in FY 21.

The parent of Great Learning, Byju's, is now the 13th most valuable start-up in the world. The Bengaluru-based company is valued at $21 billion, which makes it the world's most valuable edtech start-up.

Great Learning was Byju's second-largest acquisition. In April of this year, the company paid nearly $1 billion for test-prep leader Aakash Educational Services. In the past, the Byju Raveendran-founded decacorn had acquired California-based reading platform Epic for $500 million, Silicon Valley-based Tynker for $200 million, WhiteHat Jr for $300 million and online learning firm Toppr for $150 million.

The company bought the Austria-based learning platform GeoGebra for an unnamed sum this month, according to its most recent acquisition.