July 8, 2021

Temasek-backed online education firm UpGrad earmarks $337 million for acquisitions

By ellen

BENGALURU (BLOOMBERG) – Online education provider UpGrad is allocating US$250 million (S$337 million) for acquisitions in the coming months to speed up global expansion, one among a slew of India-born edtech start-ups setting their sights on international markets.

The company will target digital learning providers with mentors and coaches as well as immersive short-form learning start-ups in markets like Indonesia and Vietnam and across Africa, it said Wednesday in a release.

Two acquisitions will be announced in the next 60 days.

UpGrad, which specialises in higher education and upskilling courses, is nearing US$4 billion in valuation, Indian newspapers have reported. That would be a jump of approximately seven times from April, when it first got external funds, raising US$160 million from Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and IFC. UpGrad representatives declined to comment on its valuation or fundraising plans.

India’s edtech firms are expanding to new markets as the pandemic led to a boom in online learning from regular school classes to specialised professional courses. UpGrad said it has over two-thirds of the online higher-education market in India for working professionals.

UpGrad was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala, who pioneered cable television in India in the 1980s and then built a unicorn acquired by Walt Disney. Mr Screwvala, 64, and his founding team own more than two-thirds of UpGrad.

The start-up is aiming for “an integrated, connected model in higher education across multiple geographies”, Mr Screwvala said in the release.

The company said its target customers are the world’s more than one billion knowledge workers and 250 million higher education enrollees. It offers more than 100 courses, including some in collaboration with universities such as Michigan State and IIT Madras. Its courses have been accessed by more than a million users in over 50 countries.