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The many problems at BYJUs beyond the recent layoffs

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  • BYJU’s is a edtech platform founded in 2015 with a current valuation of $22 billion.
  • The management of the edtech platform says it is making cost savings to “achieve overall profitability by March 2023”.
  • Many edtech companies have resorted to layoffs this year.

Indian edtech decacorn BYJU’s announced yesterday that it has laid off 2,500 employees as it consolidated the many platforms it has acquired – such as Toppr, Meritnation, TutorVistaScholar and HashLearn.

The move is a way to avoid job layoffs, the company says, and the layoffs make up 5% of the workforce.

“These measures will help us become profitable in the set time frame of March 2023,” said Mrinal Mohit, CEO of BYJU’S India Business.

According to audited FY21 financial data released last month after an 18-month delay, losses increased 20-fold to ₹4,589 crore.

In the past three years, the company has been engaged in acquisitions. The largest to date is that of Aakash, a provider of offline test prep services for $1 billion in 2021. Payments to PE Major Blackstone, who owned 38% in Aakash, were eventually
approved by the company, albeit after delays.

It also has the Singapore-based great learning for $600 million in 2021. Both entities will operate independently, Byjus had said.

Edtechs in trouble

This year, many edtech companies have suffered from loss of customers after offline classes started and screen fatigue. Since July of this year, many edtech companies such as Unacademy and Vedantu have laid off employees.

Byju’s, which has also earned its spurs in offline coaching, is known to have taken the same path. According to reports,
WhiteHat Jr, owned by Byju’sfired about 300 employees from its code teaching and sales teams in June.

However, different
media reports have linked the resignation number between 1,500-2,500. The company vehemently denied the figures, but admitted to making cuts.

“To recalibrate our business priorities and accelerate our long-term growth, we are optimizing our teams across all our group companies. This entire exercise involves less than 500 employees from all companies of the Byju group,” the company spokesman said after denying the number of layoffs of 2,500.

In good shape says management

The edtech giant, which is valued at around $22 billion and is the first edtech unicorn in India, has also come under scrutiny for several reasons. However, the company’s management insists it is in good working order.

Divya Gokulnath, the company’s co-founder, also came out in defense of the company, saying that a lot has happened since the results of FY21 and that the larger losses in FY22 have already been reduced by half.

“It’s easy to forget that we are 18 months after FY21 and BYJU’S has grown more than 4 times over this period,” she wrote in an open letter on LinkedIn.

For this year, the company has set a goal of hitting $2 billion in revenue. The founder of the company has indicated the time:
and again that this “income in sight”.

At the other end of the spectrum,
Byju’s users have complained on aggressive sales tactics and their effects on learning. In addition, some of its employees also have
talked about it publicly high-pressure tactics and practices that have become almost exploitative for Indian parents who place a high value on their children’s education.

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