Blackstone acquires majority stake in Simplilearn for $250 million

Blackstone is acquiring a majority stake in Bangalore and San Francisco-headquartered edtech startup Simplilearn for $250 million.

Simplilearn operates an eponymous online bootcamp to help people learn data science, AI, machine learning, cloud computing and other skills that are in demand in the market.

The startup has partnerships with several universities and colleges, including IIT Kanpur, Caltech and Purdue University, and students enrolling and completing these courses get a certificate from these institutes.

The 11-year-old startup, which runs 1,000 live classes each month, says it has helped more than 2 million professionals and 2,000 companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, across 150 countries.

The startup, which was last valued at $80 million in its 2016 Series C funding round, counts Brand Capital, Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield among its early backers. It had raised about $34.4 million prior to today’s deal, according to insight platform Tracxn.

Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund have taken exit as part of the new transaction but the leadership team of Simplilearn haven’t sold their stakes, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“The pandemic has only accelerated the need for digital skills and the industry has demonstrated absolute readiness for upskilling online. Hence, this is the most opportune time to take the next big leap in our journey to build the world’s largest digital skilling company,” said Krishna Kumar, founder and chief executive of Simplilearn, in a statement.

“We believe Blackstone can add significant value to our company because of their scale, commitment to building businesses, and global network, which will enable us to develop partnerships with businesses and universities as Simplilearn continues to expand around the world.”

The acquisition comes months after Blackstone-backed Aakash Education Services, which runs coaching centres across the country, was acquired by Byju’s — India’s most valuable startup — for nearly $1 billion. Blackstone has since also made an investment in Byju’s.

“This is Blackstone’s first private equity investment in Asia in a consumer technology company. […] We are excited to partner with Krishna Kumar and Simplilearn’s top-notch management team to accelerate growth and build the world’s pre-eminent digital learning company, and we expect this to be the first of many such investments in Asia,” said Amit Dixit, head of Asia for Blackstone, in a statement.