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Online education startup Byju’s is close to raising $200 million in a fresh funding round from US investment firms BlackRock and T. Rowe Price at a valuation of $12 billion, said a person familiar with the matter.

The Bengaluru-based edtech firm last raised $500 million in September from a group of investors including private equity firm Silver Lake Partners along with existing investors General Atlantic, Owl Ventures and Tiger Global at a valuation of $10.8 billion.

BlackRock, Sands Capital and Alkeon Capital joined as new investors, as part of the same round later, with valuation climbing to $11.1 billion.

A spokesperson for Byju’s didn’t respond to queries.

BlackRock and T. Rowe Price couldn’t be immediately reached.

The surge in investor interest also catapulted Byju’s into India’s second-most valuable startup, also earning it the decacorn status—the handful of startups that are valued at more than $10 billion.

In an interview with Mint in August, founder Byju Raveendran said that the company has reached a stage where it has an option to do an initial public offering (IPO) sooner, though the timeline is still not decided.

“Byju’s is not only eyeing international expansion actively but also looking at strategic inorganic growth," said a second person, requesting not be named.

Byju’s was valued at around $8 billion in January when it raised $200 million in equity funding from New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management. That round had elevated Byju’s valuation by 45%.

Since then, Byju’s valuation has increased by a further 35%. It had turned into a unicorn in late 2017 when it raised money from a group of investors, led by China’s Tencent.

Since the lockdown, Byju’s has added over 25 million new students on its platform. The app has over 73 million registered students and 5.1 million annual paid subscriptions. It has also introduced an online tutoring programme Byju’s Classes to cater to the after-school learning needs of students. Learning programmes in multiple vernacular languages like Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Malayalam and Gujarati have been introduced during the lockdown too.

Companies such as Byju’s and Unacademy are benefiting from the willingness of families to spend a big chunk of their income on education and tutoring to give their children an edge amid rampant unemployment.

Unacademy joined the unicorn club in September following a $150 million fundraising led by SoftBank, with the Gaurav Munjal-led startup tripling its valuation to $1.45 billion in less than six months.


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