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Blackstone to acquire majority stake in top upskilling ed-tech firm Simplilearn

Based in San Francisco and Bengaluru, Simplilearn is backed by Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund

July 19, 2021 / 07:04 AM IST
Blackstone (Image: Reuters)

Blackstone (Image: Reuters)

Three months after sealing India's biggest ed-tech deal by selling Aakash Educational Services to Byju's for around $1 billion, Blackstone is poised to make a fresh bet in the burgeoning segment.

The global private equity giant has entered final stage negotiations to acquire a majority stake in Simplilearn, a leading online learning bootcamp for digital skills training, multiple industry sources with knowledge of the matter told Moneycontrol.

Based in San Francisco, United States and Bengaluru, India, Simplilearn is backed by Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund.

"Blackstone will acquire a controlling stake in Simplilearn in a transaction which gives the combined firm an enterprise value of $350 million. An official announcement is expected shortly," said one of the individuals cited above.

"The investors Kalaari Capital, Helion Ventures and Mayfield will make a complete exit as part of the deal. The founder and CEO Krishna Kumar is not exiting and will stay on," a second individual told Moneycontrol.

According to the shareholding pattern of Simplilearn, Kalaari, Helion and Mayfield hold a combined stake of 57 percent.

"In partnership with Blackstone which has expertise in the ed-tech segment, Kumar is looking forward to build the firm as the world's largest digital skilling company," said a third individual.

"Many new themes are emerging in the education segment and Blackstone sees vocational training as an area of growth. Its in vogue now with the focus on digital skills for professionals post COVID-19," added a third individual.

Globally, the firm has invested in ed-tech firms like Ascend Learning, Ellucian and Articulate.

All the four individuals above spoke to Moneycontrol on the condition of anonymity.

Blackstone declined to comment.

In response to an email query from Moneycontrol, Simplilearn said , "As we are one of the leading ed-tech players, there are always investment firms talking to us. However, if we close any transaction, we will definitely talk about it. Right now, we have no comment to share."

Kalaari Capital, Helion and Mayfield could not be contacted for an immediate comment. This article will be updated when we hear from these firms.

Simplilearn has raised $28 million so far from Kalarai Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund. Its Series A of $3 million was in 2012, Series B of $10 million in 2013 and the last round of $15 million was sealed in 2015.

Founded in 2010, Simplilearn provides online training in disciplines such as Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Digital Marketing, and Data Science, among others. It offers courses in partnership with top global universities and according to its website, it has helped over two million professionals, and companies across 150+ countries get trained, acquire certifications, and upskill their employees.

Ashwin Mohan