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With online learning being shot to prominence during the pandemic, edtech platforms have profited immensely. In fact, edtech giant Byju’s is the most valued unicorn start-up in the country, and the world’s most valuable educational technology company, with a valuation of $16.5 billion. The start-up has been on an acquisition spree in recent times, and US-based reading platform Epic is the latest to be acquired by Byju’s for an astounding sum of $500 million as the Bengaluru-based start-up continues to expand its services beyond its homeland.

The cash-and-stock deal is the second-biggest acquisition of Byju’s after it had acquired Aakash Institute for $1 billion earlier this year. This acquisition is expected to expand the US footprint of Byju’s in the States by providing access to the more than two million teachers and 50 million kids in Epic’s existing global user base, which has more than doubled over the pandemic year. This is not the first US-based start-up acquired by Byju’s – it acquired Osmo for $120 million in 2019, and coding startup WhiteHat Jr. last year

As part of the acquisition, Epic CEO Suren Markosian and co-founder Kevin Donahue will continue to function in their roles.

Byju’s expects annual revenue of $300 million this financial year from international markets, and the acquisition of Epic is a step in that direction, according to co-founder Byju Raveendran. The start-up now looks to invest around $1 billion in North America to accelerate its growth in the region over the next couple of years.

In a statement, the company said that its plans for international and US market expansion, as well as the acquisition with Epic, will not only lead to significant investments in technology that will help to further personalized learning for students but will also enable Byju’s to become a natural part of America’s learning culture.

The online reading segment will be a new challenge for the ed tech startup, which dominates the online learning sector in India. Epic is a suitable choice since the seven-year-old start-up has a user base of 50 million kids in the US who access digital books for free as well as through its subscriptions. It is focused on original content and contains a collection of over 40,000 popular, high-quality books from 250 of the world’s best publishers. Its recommendations are customized to the child’s interests and parents can track progress and see the time spent in reading.

Raveendran claims that Epic is the largest B2C (business-to-consumer) edtech company in the K-12 segment, containing a strong product capability that fits well into Byju’s overall plan of building an edtech ecosystem. It is currently one of the largest digital reading services for children and is used in almost every school in the US. Epic will soon be available in India and other English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

“Epic’s model for inspiring the next generation through interactive reading is in lockstep with our mission to help millions of children become life-long learners,” Anita Kishore, Chief Strategy Officer, Byju’s, said.