BYJU’S acquires US-based edtech startup Epic for $500M in one of the largest international acquisitions
Bengaluru-based edtech unicornhas acquired US-based startup - Epic, a digital reading platform for children aged 12 and under, for $500 million. The company stated this acquisition will help expand BYJU’S US footprint by providing access to more than two million teachers and 50 million children who are part of Epic’s existing global user base, which more than doubled over the last year.
The Epic team added they have seen explosive growth during the pandemic as school libraries, public reading libraries, and spots have remained shut.
Anitha Kishore, Chief Strategy Officer at BYJU’S, told YourStory that the company is now looking to make a revenue of $300 million from the US market in the coming year. The edtech giant is also looking to invest $1 billion in North America, with a focus to accelerate its growth in the region.
Epic co-founders Suren Markosian and Kevin Donahue will remain in their roles and continue carrying out Epic’s mission to unlock the potential of every child through reading.
Suren and Kevin
Speaking of the acquisition, Anitha added that the team has been in touch with Epic for some time now. They had met the founders five years ago and were tracking the company.
“There are products that focus on learning by watching or learning by playing for different age groups, and Epic is focused on learning by reading. This, we believe, is a lifelong skill. 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,” she said.
Speaking of the acquisition, Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, BYJU’S said in a press note shared with the company,
“Our partnership with Epic will enable us to create engaging and interactive reading and learning experiences for children globally. Our mission is to fuel curiosity and make students fall in love with learning. Knowing that Epic and its products are rooted in the same mission, it was a natural fit. Together, we have the opportunity to create impactful experiences for children to become life-long learners.”
What does it do?
Founded seven years ago by Suren Markosian and Kevin Donahue, Epic’s vision is to bridge the gap between the book and the child and help them to learn better. In a conversation with YourStory, Kevin says the idea of starting Epic came from a personal pain point. Being parents themselves, the duo wanted their children to read more. He says that as reading is fundamental to learning, they felt that if children can read, they can learn anything.
“There was no company at that time that was building a digital reading platform for children. Suren pointed that it was easy for children to watch a video or play a game online, but not anything that allowed children to read a book with the same ease,” said Kevin.
Focused on original content, Epic has over 40,000 books and over 300 publishers on the platform. Last year alone, close to one billion books were read on Epic.
Adding to this, Suren said in a conversation with YourStory,
“Our platform enables any child to discover any book based on their interest and their age. We have focused on quality content and books, and have made it engaging and fun. The idea is to get children to fall in love with reading. Children are now proactively asking to read Epic.”
He added that Epic is currently one of the largest digital reading services for children, and is used in almost every school in the US.
Why take the acquisition route?
“When we met with Anitha and Byju and looked at a possible partnership, we realised we speak the same language and understand the importance of education and how technology can aid in reaching a lot more children across the globe. As we got talking, we felt we could do a lot more together. While Epic is US-based, it solves a problem by reaching children anywhere in the world. Together, we can help empower future generations by fostering a lifetime love for reading and learning," added Suren.
While the team was approached by multiple companies in the last year, the duo felt BYJU’S was the best fit. Suren explains that for both him and Kevin, it was a big and tough decision to make as both were passionate about the problem and the company had a big impact.
“We also had big global ambitions, so we felt this was the fastest way to bring our products to market internationally. We realised by combining forces, we can accelerate our international growth,” said Suren.
The team believes reading fluency is fundamental for academic development because problems with this skill can interfere with a student’s ability to learn other subjects as they make their way through later grades.
Kevin added, “We felt comfortable with Byju and Anitha in their terms of vision and culture, and look at learning from a global perspective. We realised it was an opportunity to take this to the next level and how complimentary the two companies actually are, in terms of product.” He explained it also is a great opportunity for BYJU’S to get into the US and build a global learning brand across international territories.