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Indian education startup Byju's raises $200M from General Atlantic

Manish Singh
In this photo taken on January 10, 2019, Byju Raveendran, founder of Byju's, the Bangalore-based educational technology start-up, poses at the company's premises in Bangalore. - From a multi-billion-dollar education startup to wired-up mannequins, technology is helping to revolutionise the way Indian schoolchildren are learning -- provided their parents can afford it. (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP) / To go with 'INDIA-ECONOMY-EDUCATION-TECHNOLOGY-AMAZON',FOCUS by Vishal MANVE (Photo credit should read MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Indian education firm Byju's said on Friday that General Atlantic, an existing investor in the startup, has pumped additional money to join its new, ongoing financing round.

While the Bangalore-based startup, which helps students learn concepts from math and science using short videos, did not disclose the size of General Atlantic's check, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that the New York-headquartered equity firm had invested $200 million in the new round at a valuation of $8 billion.

The announcement today comes weeks after Tiger Global invested $200 million in the nine-year-old startup, which claimed profitability before the new financing round.

The new round, which has helped Byju's valuation climb from about $5.7 billion a year ago to $8 billion, has made the edtech startup the third most valuable private firm in India after financial services firm Paytm (valued at $16 billion) and budget-hotel operator Oyo (valued at $10 billion).

Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive of the eponymous startup, said the new investment illustrates "an ever increasing acceptance of our learning programs in small towns across the country."

Raveendran, a former teacher, founded Byju's in 2011— a time when only a few million people in India owned a smartphone and mobile data prices were too costly for most.

Thanks to the proliferation of low-cost Android handsets in India and dwindling data prices since, hundreds of millions of people in the country have come online in the last decade.

Byju's also employed innovative ways such as using a pizza to help explain complex science concepts. Its app has amassed over 42 million registered users, 3 million of whom are paid subscribers. The startup offers courses that are aimed at students in grade six and upwards -- including those preparing for competitive under-graduate courses.

Over 65 percent of Byju's students are from outside the top 10 cities in the country, giving many access to quality education for the first time. (Some of its tactic to sign up subscribers has come under scrutiny, however.)

"This is a validation of how technology can make high-quality learning content more accessible to students, irrespective of their geographies. In fact, technology as an enabler has a lot of potential to further innovate the way in which learning can be made personalised and impactful," Raveendran added.

Byju's has raised about $1.45 billion to date. It also counts Tencent, and Naspers among its investors. Mark Zuckerberg's Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative was also an early investor.

A Byju's spokesperson declined to comment on the size of General Atlantic's new investment and the startup's valuation.