Africa’s Biggest Company Naspers Invests in U.S. Education Platform

(Bloomberg) -- Naspers Ltd., Africa’s biggest company by market value and soon to be one of Europe’s largest listed technology companies, is investing more of its $10-billion cash-pile in educational platforms.

The Cape Town-based company has led the latest $30 million investment round in Brainly, a U.S. startup that allows learners to help each other with homework problems in different parts of the world. The students earn points for the quality of their answers and can enter leadership-boards in different subjects such as history, mathematics and others.

“At Naspers, we back companies seeking to address big societal needs like education, helping them to achieve global scale,” said Naspers Ventures Chief Executive Officer Larry Illg. “Brainly has the potential to serve the needs of hundreds of millions of students around the world, and has shown strong growth in the U.S. and high growth markets such as India, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil.”

The cash from the current funding round will be used to update the platform and expand its base in the U.S., where it has already managed to make money from the service.

Brainly is also expanding into India, where Naspers also led a $540 million funding round into another educational tech company Byju in December last year. The Brainly platform is growing at around 200% a year. Before the Byju investment, Naspers’s education investments have all been in the U.S. and includes other online learning platforms such as Udemy.

Naspers first invested in Brainly in 2016. Runa Capital and Manta Ray have also invested in the latest funding round.

A $32 million initial investment in Tencent Holdings Ltd. back in 2001 transformed the South African newspaper and Pay TV business into one of the largest technology investors globally. Its 31% stake in the Chinese game-maker is worth $140 billion, compared with its total market value of $110 billion in Johannesburg. The valuation gap motivated a decision for Naspers to list its internet businesses on the Euronext in September to close that discount.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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