Amid the funding winter and the uncertain global macroeconomic environment, US-based investors have lowered their valuations on Indian start-ups such as Byju’s and Meesho.
BlackRock Inc, a US-based asset management firm, has slashed its valuation of edtech unicorn Byju’s by 62% to $8.4 billion. According to its filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the asset management company has valued its 2,279 shares of Byju’s at over US$4.04 million, effectively putting the company’s fair value at US$8.4 billion -dollar estimates from FY23.
The development comes a month after BlackRock, which owns less than 1% of Byju’s, reportedly cut the edtech major’s valuation from $4,600 per share in April 2022 to $2,400 per share at the end of December 2022 The $10 trillion company was first included in Byju’s list of top investors in 2020 with a valuation of $12 billion. However, the rating is much more “respectable” than the value Naspers-owned Prosus set for the Bengaluru-based startup last year. The South Africa-based, new-age tech-focused investor had priced its 9.67 percent stake in edtech parent company Think & Learn at $578 million at the end of September last year, giving the company a valuation of had $6 billion. Although the narrative surrounding the discount was that it was an accounting treatment only, valuing a unicorn’s interest at its fair value is indicative of the growing challenges the company has faced since its last $250 million fundraising dollars in October 2022.
Divya Gokulnath, co-founder of Byju’s told Fortune India that the company would not renew its sports partnerships. The company, which has raised over US$5 billion, has branded partnerships with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the International Cricket Council and the Federation Internationale de Football Association.
The discount in its valuation comes at a time when Byju’s is already subject to review by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Last month, ED conducted searches at the company’s three premises in Bengaluru in accordance with FEMA regulations. The company, through its US-based subsidiary Alpha Inc, is also facing litigation in the Delaware court on behalf of lenders that are owed $1.2 billion.
Byju’s, which was once valued at $22 billion, has seen a wave of acquisitions in recent years. The edtech company spent $2.5 billion on acquisitions including Aakash Educational Services (exam prep specialist), US-based Epic, Tynker (programming platform for kids), Great Learning (professional education company) and Toppr (platform for exam preparation).
Meanwhile, Fidelity Investments, another U.S.-based wealth management firm, has slashed the value of e-commerce platform Meesho by nearly 10% to $4.4 billion. According to an SEC filing, Fidelity owns 33,000 shares of Meesho through the Fidelity Central Investment Portfolio. Now the company has reduced the value of its investment by 9.6% from $2.59 million to $2.34 million.
Fidelity Investments co-led a $570 million Series F financing from Meesho, valued at $4.9 billion in 2021. Like its peers, Meesho is seeking to thrive in a deteriorating macroeconomic environment environment to achieve profitability. Earlier this month, Meesho laid off 15% of its workforce for a job cut of 251. This is Meesho’s second round of layoffs in about a year. The company had previously reduced its workforce by 150.
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