Tech firm Emeritus raises $650 million from SoftBank

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Aug 12 - Emeritus, an EdTech platform that is used by some of the world's top universities and other educational institutions for online courses, announced today it raised $650 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Group CorpBank Group Corp's Vision Fund 2 and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel.

The Singapore-based firm said it was valued at $3.2 billion, quadrupling its valuation from the last funding round in August 2020.

The massive injection of funds comes as the online learning and related technology have received a boost from the pandemic. SoftBank alone has made several big investments in the sector, including in South Korea's AI tutorial startup Riiid Inc and Class Technologies Inc, which makes tools that can be used with teleconferencing programs made by Zoom Video Communications Inc.

This is similar to the Silicon Valley EdTech company Coursera Inc., but the classes are much smaller and more interactive, said Ashwin Damera, the co-founder and CEO of Emeritus.

The bulk of Emeritus' business is in courses for partial credentials, but universities also use the technology to offer degrees or alternative degrees, said Damera.

Proceeds from the funding round will be used for the recent acquisition of iD Tech, a platform to teach science and technology to youth students, as well as to develop new courses and expand the company's business and geographical footprint. It has already delivered 250,000 individual courses in over 80 countries, the company said.

Emeritus works with over 50 universities in India, Europe, East Asia, Europe and China. Damera said his company was not affected by China's crackdown on online tutoring aimed mainly at companies targeting students in high school or younger.

Other existing investors of Emeritus include the Sachin Cohen Foundation - a charity owned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan - and Sequoia Capital India AdvisorsIndia Advisors.