Blackstone picks up controlling stake in edtech startup Simplilearn

Bengaluru: Private equity major Blackstone said it has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in edtech startup Simplilearn and will invest $250 million in the company as part of the deal.

Early investors Kalaari Capital, Helion Ventures and Mayfield Fund will exit the firm while Krishna Kumar, founder and chief executive, will stay on to run the operations. Kalaari, Helion and Mayfield hold a combined stake of more than 50% and will exit with returns of about 6x to 15x, according to a report in The Times of India.

Simplilearn provides online training across technologies and applications in data science, AI and machine learning, cloud computing and other digital disciplines.

“My team and I have partnered with Blackstone to build the largest digital skilling company in the world,” Kumar said. “We believe Blackstone can add significant value to our company because of their scale, commitment to building businesses, and global network. This will enable us to develop partnerships with businesses and universities as Simplilearn continues to expand around the world.”

Amit Dixit, head of Asia for Blackstone Private Equity, said, “This is Blackstone’s first private equity investment in Asia in a consumer technology company. Like many other sectors, technology is disrupting education and education technology has been a high conviction theme for Blackstone in India and globally.”

As much as 60% of Simipliearn’s business comes from overseas. The company has raised $28 million so far from Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund. It claims to have more than 2 million learners on its platform and hopes to increase this 5 million by 2023.

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Earlier this year, Blackstone-backed Aakash Education Services, which runs tutorial centres across the country,
was acquired by Byju’s in a cash-and-stock deal estimated at $950 million. Last week, edtech startup Vedantu said
it acquired a majority stake in AI-enabled personalised learning platform Pedagogy. It did not disclose the terms of the investment.


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