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Unacademy gets SoftBank backing, joins unicorn league
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Unacademy has raised a whopping $150 million (Rs 1,094 crore) in a new funding round led by SoftBank, catapulting the ed-tech company to the famed unicorn club of startups with a valuation of over $1 billion.

Gaurav Munjal, co-founder Unacademy, tweeted that the company has been valued at $1.45 billion post the funding.

Existing investors General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital India, Nexus Venture Partners, Facebook and Blume Ventures also participated in this round, he added.

Avendus said it advised Unacademy on the deal.

With this, Unacademy joins Byju's as the only other edtech unicorn in India.

Edtech startups have attracted a lot of investor attention over the last few years, and more so during the coronavirus pandemic that has forced schools, colleges and universities to shut down.

Just earlier this week, Eruditus Learning Solutions Pte Ltd, which offers executive learning programmes, raised $113 million in its Series D round of funding led by Prosus Ventures, a spin-off from South African investment firm Naspers.

Last week, Byju's, which became a unicorn in 2018, raised $122 million in funding from DST Global.  

The capital infusion from DST Global – floated by Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner – came as a tranche of its ongoing Series F funding round. 

This fundraise came two months after Byju’s raised an undisclosed sum from Bond Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by former Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker.  

The edtech firm also bought venture capital-backed WhiteHat Jr, which focuses on coding education, for $300 million last month. The deal also gave a spectacular exit to investors.

In July, Vedantu scooped up $100 mn in Series D funding led by US-based investment firm Coatue Management; and Toppr raised $46 million in its Series D round of funding led by UAE-based family investment office Foundation Holdings.

In other deals in the space during the lockdown, Lightbox Ventures led a $7.2 million pre-Series B funding round in Flinto and upGrad raised Rs 50 crore in debt financing, among others.

Unacademy

Unacademy, run by Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt. Ltd, was founded as an educational YouTube channel in 2016 by Munjal, Roman Saini, Hemesh Singh and Sachin Gupta.

It helps educators create lessons on the Educator App, which learners access via the Learning App. It has more than 10,000 educators and 13 million learners, the company had said last year. 

The edtech startup last year launched Unacademy Plus, a subscription model, which offers students unlimited access to live courses. The company claims that more than 50,000 learners have subscribed to Unacademy Plus since its launch.

In 2018, early-stage venture capital firm WaterBridge Ventures, which had invested $1 million in Unacademy in 2016, exited with a return of five times on its investment.

The edtech startup has also been actively making acquisitions.

In July 2020, Unacademy struck its third reported acquisition of the year by picking up a majority stake in the K-12 platform Mastree.

The move came just a week after it announced the acquisition of medical education platform PrepLadder Pvt. Ltd for $50 million. Prior to that, it acquired Delhi-based online exam preparation startup Kreatryx in March.

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