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Exclusive: Edtech unicorn upGrad expands ESOP pool size


Higher-education focused edtech startup upGrad has expanded the pool size of its employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) by adding fresh options. This is the second instance of an increment in the Mumbai-based company’s stock pool size in the past nine months.

The board at upGrad has passed a special resolution to enlarge its ESOP pool by 3,00,000 options, regulatory filing with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) shows.

upGrad already had an ESOP pool of 22,25,810 options which has now been increased by 13% to 25,25,810 options. As per Fintrackr’s estimates, the fresh options for upGrad are worth Rs 244 crore or $30 million, whereas the total value of the company’s employee stocks is worth approximately Rs 2,058 crore or $260 million.

Joining the likes of many late-stage startups, upGrad also organised an ESOP liquidation program worth $29.5 million in July last year.

Post this expansion, upGrad has the third largest ESOP pool in the edtech space after Byju’s and Unacademy. As of January 2022, Byju’s had an ESOP pool of Rs 3,092 crore or $412 million followed by Unacademy’s pool worth $400 million.

upGrad is also the fourth most valued edtech company in India after Byju’s, Unacademy and Eruditus.

The ESOP pool expansion comes soon after the announcement of upGrad’s fresh fundraise of $210 million. Following the round, the firm’s valuation also spiked 2X to $2.25 billion in a matter of one year.

Besides fundraising, upGrad also has acquired half a dozen startups in 2022 and 14 since its inception in 2015. Exampur, a test-prep platform for government jobs and Harappa Education, an online learning platform were the latest addition to its acquisition portfolio.

While upGrad did not disclose the financial numbers for FY22, the company’s revenue from operations grew 86% to Rs 302 crore during FY21 from Rs 162.34 crore in FY20. During the same period (FY21), its losses soared 2.6X to Rs 211 crore.

With over 3 million learners and a presence across more than 100 countries, upGrad is targeting $400-500 million in revenue after the end of the ongoing fiscal (FY23).

As per data tracking platform Fintrackr, funding in edtech startups plummeted from $5.82 billion in 2021 to $2 billion in 2022 till August 15. upGrad’s $210 million fundraise was the second largest equity round after Byju’s in 2022 so far. Unlike several edtech startups which have reduced a large chunk of their employee base in 2022, the Ronnie Screwvala led-company has not reduced its workforce.

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