Mergers in the education sector
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This article is written by Amarnath Simha, pursuing a Diploma in M&A, Institutional Finance, and Investment Laws (PE and VC transactions) from


The Education sector in India has come a long way since 1993 when the Indian Supreme Court in the case of Unnikrishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, held that education is a symbol of charity and disbarred the aspect of educational institutions profiteering. Subsequently in 2002, in the case of T.M.A. Pai vs. State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court held that a reasonable surplus could be made by an educational institution but disallowed profiteering and charging capitation fees. The latest judgment is still the law of the land and followed by all educational institutions and yet they are making money. But more importantly, these judgments were rendered before the beginning of the edtech startups era where they started turning into billionaire startups.  These edtech startups range from offering tuition education from standards 1 to 12 and also for preparation of plus two entrance exams of all sorts. They also give coaching for exams in the professional sector like CA, CS, etc., but also for competitive exams like UPSC, State Civil services exams, judicial exams, etc.,  Hence the spread of edtech is extremely large and is only going to increase further, in future.  Moreover, since these edtech startups are neither technically educational institutions nor are they indulging in imparting professional education backed by degrees, it allows them to freely operate out of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court judgments.  Hence, they are more commercial and leading to all the events happening in any commercial sector also happen in this sector.  There are mergers and acquisitions in the edtech sector in India. But the mergers and acquisitions are not just limited to edtech as even institutions in conventional sectors are merging. Pooling in resources and competing as one is one of the modes still followed as a commercial practice.  

Contribution of COVID-19 to mergers in the education industry

COVID-19 has hit all the industries hard but the education industry has undergone a major revolution in as much as most of the education is now being conducted online.  Even conventional and schools are operating on online mode.  Though there are many challenges as every student in every place is not being covered under the online mode as many are lacking proper equipment and connection, it is accepted that online education mode is here to stay.  Hence, automatically those edtech industries that were operating prior to COVID-19 who have had a head start in the online education industry have found all the reasons to invest more and merge with similar startups to capture the larger field.  Most of the students who could afford the courses of these edtech industries have access to smartphones and internet connections making it a preferred mode of education.  Edtech industries have a major advantage as it gives a major comfort to the students to be able to learn at their own homes, at their own time, and at their own pace.  Hence, the industry is only bound to bloom and is doing as well.    

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Some of the major mergers in the education sector

There has been a spurt in the mergers and acquisitions in the education sector recently. Some of the acquisitions by a few major edtech industries are Byju’s and Unacademy in India as has been mentioned below.


Byju’s is an Indian multinational educational technology company, headquartered in Bangalore, India. It was founded in 2011 by Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath.  Byju is one of the world’s most valuable education technology companies. In 2012, Think and Learn entered both Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific ratings and has been present there ever since. It started offering educational classes from class IV to Class XII and later expanded to training students for examinations in India such as IIT-JEE, NEET, CAT, and IAS. Their website reveals all the kinds of coaching that they offer which includes various state board examinations as well.  

WhiteHat Jr.

In August 2020, Byju’s acquired WhiteHat Jr, an online coding school for young kids, for $300 million (Rs 2,223 crore) in all-cash deal. The 18-months-old firm already had learners in India and the US and was also planning to expand to Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.  The intention of Byju’s in acquiring WhiteHat Jr is very clear in that it wants to be a major player in all aspects of the educational industry at the school level.

Aakash Educational Services

Byju’s this year acquired Aakash, which is a 33-year-old chain of physical coaching centres for exams at an estimated price of one billion US dollars with around 600 million dollars in cash and rest in equity. Aakash owns and operates around 200 physical tutoring centres across the country providing tutoring for engineering and medical entrance examinations from the high school levels itself.  It has an estimated 2,50,000 students on its rolls.  This is one of the biggest buyouts made by an Indian entity in the entire Indian economic sector and not just in the education sector.

Toppr acquired by Byju’s is an interesting twist

If not the most valued acquisition, it is certainly the most interesting. Toppr was in the same education segment as Byju’s and in fact, was in a leading position in 2016.  Due to many reasons, Toppr was not able to raise the funding and it is estimated to be acquired by Byju’s for 150 million dollars.  


LabInApp was an EdTech startup that provided science lab-like simulation on mobile devices, curating interactive and immersive learning experiences for students and teachers. They had created virtual learning and teaching environment representing science laboratories where teachers can teach practical concepts to students who were being licensed to around 5000 schools at the time of acquisition.  Byju acquired the same for an undisclosed amount. Byju solidified its leadership in the market after this acquisition.


Byju’s acquired Scholr which provided on-demand homework, help, and personal learning assistance to school students through artificial intelligence and real tutors in February 2021 for a sum of Rs.18 crores.

Acquisitions beyond the borders

The acquisitions by Byju’s are not just restricted to the Indian education sector.  It extends to the US also, as its website reveals. The website reveals that in July 2017, Byju’S acquired TutorVista, Edurite from Pearson. It is one of the largest online tutoring brands catering to school and college students, majorly in The United States of America. The website further reveals that in January 2019, BYJU’S acquired US-based Osmo for $120 million. Osmo is famous for its blended learning educational games crafted for children aged 3-8 years. Osmo was said to have been pivotal in creating ‘play-based learning’ for young children. This acquisition is said to be at the core of BYJU’S offering of Disney, BYJU’S Early Learn. 


Unacademy is an Indian educational technology company, based in Bangalore. Originally created as a YouTube channel in 2010 by Gaurav Munjal, the company was founded in 2015 by Munjal, Roman Saini, and Hemesh Singh. The company has a network of over 18,000 educators and offers preparation material for several professional and educational entrance exams. Unacademy lessons are in the form of Live Classes both free and via subscription.  It has acquired many other online coaching centres for entrance exams and has widened its base.  

Unacademy acquires Mastree

At the time of acquisition in 2020, the ten-month-old Mastree was said to be a one-stop subscription product for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) courses for classes 5 to 8. Along with providing live sessions for the subjects as mentioned above, the platform also provided features such as doubt solving, live quizzes, and personalised practice sessions. Unacademy acquired the said company for a reported valuation of 100 crore rupees.

Unacademy acquires PrepLadder

PrepLadder was an extremely in-demand app for students to crack NEET medical entrances.  Unacademy acquired PrepLadder for 50 million dollars in 2009. 

Other acquisitions by Unacademy

Some of the other acquisitions by Unacademy include:

  • In 2018, Wifistudy for $10 million: Wifistudy was a YouTube-based online exam preparation and learning platform founded in 2013 by Dinesh Godara. Wifistudy focused on preparation for competitive public-sector exams such as SSC, banking, railway, and state police.
  • Kreatryx founded in 2014 by Ankit Goyal, was acquired by Unacademy in early 2020 to expand GATE and ESE preparation services.
  • Unacademy acquired Mumbai-based online competitive programming platform CodeChef in June 2020
  • Unacademy acquired UPSC test prep platform Coursavy in Sept 2020.
  • In December 2020, Unacademy acquired Delhi NCR-based test prep startup Neostencil.
  • Unacademy acquired a majority stake in TapChief, in February 2021
  • In March 2021, Unacademy acquired CAT prep platform Handa ka Funda


Though there are many players in the education industry, these two players have acquired a major space and are players to be matched and outperformed by others.  This sector is only going to increase due to the demand being much more than the supply and hence, more and more acquisitions are going to be expected in the near future.

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