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Byju's nears acquisition of Tynker, a US-based coding platform for kids

Byju's has been on a funding and acquisition spree this year, spending over $2 billion to buy half a dozen companies across segments- from offline education to upskilling to school education.

September 12, 2021 / 05:33 PM IST
Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

​India's most valued internet startup Byju's is close to acquiring Tynker, a US-based coding platform for kids, making it the latest in a series of acquisitions to consolidate its leadership in the K12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) segment, as it prepares to become a publicly listed company.

The Tynker acquisition will be the second in the coding space after Whitehat Junior, which Byju's bought for $300 million in August 2020. While Moneycontrol wasn't able to ascertain the value of the Tynker deal, sources said it could be in the range of $100 million. This is also the third US-based company that Byju's is buying, after educational gaming startup Osmo and online reading platform Epic.

Byju's has been on a funding and acquisition spree this year, spending over $2 billion to buy half a dozen companies across segments- from offline education to upskilling to school education. It has bought 15 companies since it was founded.

The ed-tech behemoth, which edged past Paytm to become the most valued Indian unicorn at $16.5 billion, is reportedly in talks with investors to raise $1.5 billion, at a valuation of over $21 billion, after which it could look at listing in the US.

Sources Moneycontrol spoke to said that the acquisition has been stitched and could be announced in days. Byju's did not respond to email queries on the deal. Moneycontrol has also written to Tynker and will update the story once they respond. The website Next Big Brand first reported on Byju's plans to acquire Tynker last month.

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Tynker was founded by Krishna Vedati, Srinivas Mandyam and Kelvin Chong in 2012 in Mountain View, California. It teaches children aged between 5 and 18 how to develop coding skills.

While coding startups like Whitehat Junior have come under fire in the past for using misleading ads and for the quality of its teachers, Tynker on the face of it, has a different approach when it comes to imparting coding skills.

Tynker teaches coding skills in developing animations, mobile games, creating music, crafting e-books and building fictional robots.

According to the startup's profile, instead of typing the source code, children visually drag blocks of code and snap them together. It offers interactive content with video tutorials that teach common text coding and block coding. It has over 60 courses that include programs in Creative Coding, Minecraft Modding, Minecraft Game Design, Python and CSS.

Tynker claims to have a reached 60 million students across 90,000 schools, giving Byju's a strong foothold in North America. Apart from partnering with brands like Mattel to offer coding experiences with Hot Wheels and Monster High, it also partners with companies like Apple, Sylvan Learning, BBC Learning, Infosys Foundation USA, Microsoft, PBS and Lego.

According to data sourced from Pitchbook, Tynker has over 60 employees and raised $10.35 million in Series A funding led by Krishna Bharat, Cervin Ventures, Prime Partners and Felicis Ventures on May 31, 2016, putting the pre-money valuation at $20.7 million and over $31 million post-money. As many as 13 other investors also participated in the round.

In an interview with Moneycontrol a few months ago, Byju's founder Byju Raveendran said the company was on a buying spree as the education sector has been grossly under-invested in and neglected.

" I strongly believe that we have an opportunity to redefine this space globally. This is not a cut, copy paste model of what is working in other markets, Starting in India is an advantage in this space," he said.

Byju's has aspirations of going public in the next 12-18 months.
Chandra R Srikanth is Editor- Tech, Startups, and New Economy
first published: Sep 12, 2021 05:33 pm

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