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Byju”s acquires Aakash Educational Services for about $1 billion

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NEW DELHI: Byju”s has acquired test-prep leader Aakash Educational Services for nearly USD 1 billion (about Rs 7,300 crore) as India”s biggest online education startup looks to build its position in the brick and mortar segment.
The acquisition is Byju”s biggest and one of the largest ed-tech deals in the world. Post the transaction, Blackstone Group and Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL) founders will hold a minority stake in Byju”s, which is valued at about USD 13 billion.
Byju”s, the most valued ed-tech startup in the country, is backed by marquee investors like Mary Meeker, Yuri Milner, Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global and others. It is estimated to have raised over USD 2 billion in funding to date.
According to sources, Byju”s is also in talks to raise an additional USD 600-700 million in funding that will help in further growth acceleration.
In the past, Byju”s had acquired TutorVista and Edurite (from Pearson in 2017) and Osmo in 2019. Last year, the General Atlantic-backed company had bought coding training platform WhiteHat Jr for USD 300 million.
The edu-tech space has seen strong growth globally with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an inflection point. Many edu-tech companies, including Vedantu and Byju”s, have also raised funds in the past few months to accelerate their growth plans.
AESL Managing Director Aakash Chaudhry said the transaction with Byju”s is part cash and part equity deal.
“It is close to 60-65 per cent cash and the remaining equity…The overall deal value is close to about USD 1 billion,” he said during media interactions.
AESL and Byju”s started exploring a deal about 6-7 months ago.
“This will be the largest integration in the education space in India, especially in the startup space…COVID has really opened the gates to online education significantly and going forward, we believe that all kinds of models in education will exist in K-12, test prep and even in higher education,” Chaudhry told PTI.
Together with Byju”s, AESL will be able to provide students with the education it was providing but at a much larger scale with multiple delivery channels that can be innovated out of both ecosystems (online and offline), he added.
After the integration, Byju”s will make further investments to accelerate Aakash”s growth, he noted.
Chaudhry said AESL will continue to operate as a separate entity and further expand its presence in the country.
“At Aakash, we are looking to transform student experiences by steering innovative and digitally-enabled learning solutions. Together with Byju”s, we will work towards building an omnichannel learning offering that will accelerate test-prep experience to the next level,” he said.
In its over 33 years of existence, AESL has helped millions of students prepare for medical and engineering entrance exams. It has a pan-India network of 215 centres (including franchisees), and a student count of more than 2.5 lakh.
In 2019, private equity firm Blackstone had picked up a 37.5 per cent stake in AESL. While the company had not disclosed the financial details, sources said the Rs 1,350 crore transaction had valued AESL at USD 500 million (over Rs 3,545 crore).
“Our complementary strengths will enable us to build capabilities, create engaging and personalised learning programmes. The future of learning is hybrid and this union will bring together the best of offline and online learning, as we combine our expertise to create impactful experiences for students,” Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju”s, said.
The addition of Aakash is a significant step towards strengthening its product offering, he added.
Byju”s cited industry reports and said the test preparation and after-school tutoring (high school) segment is estimated to be a USD 7-8 billion opportunity in India and is expected to witness 55-60 per cent growth over the next 4-5 years.
On whether the ed-tech platform will continue to scout for acquisitions, Byju”s said the company will look at opportunities that bring in new products and formats, market expansion and/or distribution opportunities.
Launched in 2015, Byju”s has over 80 million students cumulatively learning from the app, 5.5 million annual paid subscriptions, and an annual renewal rate of 86 per cent. During April-September 2020, Byju”s added 45 million new students to its platform.

EY was the exclusive financial advisor for Byju”s on this transaction. Phoenix Advisors was the exclusive advisor to AESL.

Source: Press Trust of India

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5g

5G now in 1947 cities across 72 countries

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NEW DELHI: Viavi Solutions said that it has released new industry data revealing that the number of cities with 5G networks now stands at 1,947 globally. Despite the pandemic, 5G cities came online at a rate of nearly two per day, with the addition of 635 new 5G cities in 2021, according to the new VIAVI report “The State of 5G,” now in its sixth year.

By the end of January 2022, 72 countries had 5G networks in place, with the newest crop of 5G countries comprising Argentina, Bhutan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and Mauritius, which all came online in the second half of 2021. Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) has overtaken Asia Pacific including Greater China (APAC) to become the region with the most 5G cities at 839. APAC has 689 5G cities and the Americas has 419.

Not surprisingly, the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China are the countries with the most 5G cities. China now has 356 5G cities and the United States has 296. The Philippines remained in the third spot globally with a total of 98 5G cities.

Currently, most 5G networks deployed are Non-Standalone (NSA) networks, meaning that 5G equipment is added to existing 4G network infrastructure. There are currently 24 Standalone (SA) 5G networks globally, meaning that they have been built using a new 5G core network. It is widely considered that many of the next-generation use cases and monetization models associated with 5G, beyond enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will only be possible when Standalone 5G networks built on new 5G core networks are in place.

The State of 5G also highlights the growing Open RAN ecosystem, combining mobile operators as well as software and infrastructure vendors, seeking to develop an open, virtualized Radio Access Network (RAN) with embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) control. As of March 2022, 64 operators have publicly announced their participation in the development of Open RAN networks. This breaks down to 23 live deployments of Open RAN networks, 34 in the trial phase with a further seven operators that have publicly announced they are in the pre-trial phase.

“5G continued to expand, despite the headwinds of a global pandemic,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO, VIAVI Solutions. “What comes next in 5G is the reinforcement of networks. This will take a couple of forms. Firstly, we expect to see more Standalone 5G networks, which will deliver on much of the promise of 5G, both for the operator and for the wider ecosystem of users. And secondly, we expect to see Open RAN continue its rapid development and start to become a de facto standard. VIAVI will continue to play a central role in testing those new networks as they are built and expanded.”

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Appointments

Indian-origin man appointed CIA’s first chief technology officer

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NEW DELHI: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William J. Burns announced the appointment of Nand Mulchandani to serve as CIA’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer (CTO).Mulchandani, an Indian-origin man who studied at Delhi’s Bluebells School International between 1979-1987.

With more than 25 years’ experience working in Silicon Valley as well as the Department of Defense (DoD), Mulchandani brings substantial private sector, startup, and government expertise to CIA.

As the CTO, Mulchandani will ensure the Agency is leveraging cutting-edge innovations and scanning the horizon for tomorrow’s innovations to further CIA’s mission. “Since my confirmation, I have prioritized focusing on technology and the new CTO position is a very important part of that effort. I am delighted Nand has joined our team and will bring his extensive experience to this crucial new role,” said Director Burns.

Prior to joining CIA, Mulchandani most recently served as the CTO and Acting Director of DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. He also co-founded and was CEO of several successful startups– Oblix (acquired by Oracle), Determina (acquired by VMWare), OpenDNS (acquired by Cisco), and ScaleXtreme (acquired by Citrix). He has a degree in Computer Science and Math from Cornell, a Master of Science degree in Management from Stanford, and a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard.

“I am honored to join CIA in this role and look forward to working with the Agency’s incredible team of technologists and domain experts who already deliver world-class intelligence and capabilities to help build a comprehensive technology strategy that delivers exciting capabilities working closely with industry and partners,” said Mulchandani.

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5g

Apollo Hospitals joins hands with Cisco and Airtel

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, partnered with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to create a 5G Connected Ambulance that transforms access to healthcare and save lives in emergency situations. The demonstration was conducted in Bengaluru over the 5G trial spectrum allotted to Airtel by the Department of Telecom.

The custom-designed state-of-the-art 5G Connected Ambulance is equipped with the latest medical equipment, patient monitoring applications, and telemetry devices that transmit the patient health data to the hospital in real-time. In addition, it is also equipped with onboard cameras, camera-based Headgear, and Bodycams for paramedic staff – all connected to the ultra-fast & low latency Airtel 5G network. It will be further enabled with technologies like AR/VR.

When a critical patient is enroute to the hospital and every second makes a difference, the 5G Connected Ambulance acts as an extension of emergency room and enables the following:

Always connected to the Hospital: The high-speed, low latency 5G network relays the Geo-location of every Ambulance to the hospital’s command center to ensure the nearest Ambulance reaches the critical patient to save the patient’s Golden hour time. Also, Ambulance transmits the patient’s complete telemetry data, including vitals, in real-time to doctors and experts at the hospital. This allows the doctors at ER to make faster decisions and advise the paramedics in ambulance to administer required aid while on the move. It also prepares the hospital staff to better manage the patient on arrival and save precious time.

Transports doctors virtually to the Ambulance: With real-time camera feed available, the paramedics in ambulance can use the cameras to collaborate with the ER doctors at the hospital who are equipped with technologies like AV/VR to undertake basic procedures, if necessary. The doctors can virtually guide the paramedic to carry out the procedure and save precious lives.

Ajay Chitkara, Director & CEO, Airtel Business, Bharti Airtel said: “5G is a transformational technology, and this is yet another demonstration by Airtel as to how collaborations can unlock the potential of digital platforms for the good of humanity. Healthcare is one of the most promising use cases for 5G, and we are delighted to deepen our partnerships with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to bring some innovative use cases for the Indian market.”

Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “Apollo Hospitals have been evangelists of connected ambulances and using these to reduce mortality and utilize the Golden Hour to the benefit of patients. The criticality of the ‘Golden hour’ is well known. It can mean the difference between life and death for seriously ill or trauma patients in an emergency. The Golden hour is impacted by the facilities in an ambulance and the distance from the Hospital. Studies show that an increased journey distance to the Hospital is associated with an increased risk of mortality, with a 10‐km increase in straight‐line distance associated with around a 1% absolute increase in mortality. Studies also indicate that pre-hospital time management should become a management objective. These insights propelled us to collaborate with Airtel on the 5G connected ambulance project and use 5G in order to utilize the disruption-free, lag-free connectivity it provides.”

She also said, “This will help save many lives as timely treatment can be started even in the Ambulance itself. The 5G connected ambulance is testament to Apollo Hospitals’ commitment to utilize the power to technology in healthcare for the benefit of patients.”

Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC, said, “Cisco’s partnership with Airtel, through our Country Digitization Acceleration program, is a step towards bringing the immense possibilities of 5G to life by improving the performance of critical-care applications. 5G will be a game-changer in enabling new use cases and improving efficiency across every industry and specifically in the healthcare sector, as 5G will arm doctors with actionable insights to augment patient monitoring and treatment.”

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