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'Our and Byju’s values were very similar,' says Aakash Chaudhry on billion-dollar acquisition

Aakash Chaudhry, managing director of the test prep firm, talks about why they sold to Byju's for a billion dollars, the future of education, and why offline classes are still important.

Mumbai / April 05, 2021 / 07:48 PM IST

Byju’s, the edtech firm valued at $14 billion, said on April 5 that it has acquired offline test preparation firm Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) at a valuation of nearly a billion dollars. It is a landmark deal for many reasons. An Indian startup acquiring another company, let alone a 30-year-old one for a billion dollars is unheard of. That too one whose success lies in the offline space. Aakash’s promoters, led by Aakash Chaudhry, and its investor, private equity giant Blackstone, got 60 percent cash and 40 percent shares in Byju’s in the deal, sources say.

In an interview with Moneycontrol, Aakash Chaudhry, managing director of AESL, spoke about why he sold the company now, the future of education, and why despite the edtech wave, offline education and classes are irreplaceable.

Edited excerpts. 

It is an interesting time to do this. You were well capitalised, profitable and well perched. Why get acquired now?
It's a good question. The world was moving to digital and fairly fast. We had our own Aakash Digital, which closed the year at close to Rs 150 crore (revenue), but we did feel that the gap between us and the next 2-3 players is pretty large. With money in the bank from Blackstone, we had a choice -- should we throw all our effort from offline to digital, or should we look out for a partnership which is complementary in nature. So we spare them the hard work of building offline, and spare us the hard work of burning cash to build out online.