A fresh round of layoffs has begun at edtech unicorn, with 900-1,000 people, or more, in the line of fire from across teams and job functions, two people familiar with the developments told YourStory.
Two other people, including one who was recently laid off by the company, confirmed the developments.
The cuts have happened mainly in the marketing, design, and tech teams in India, and product teams in the international business, three of the sources told YourStory on condition of anonymity.
Another person said several senior management personnel too have been asked to resign.
“Folks in the international team were given a heads-up… It’s very hush-hush this time,” one of these persons still employed with the company. “Some of the biggest contributors also have been laid off.”
BYJU’S did not immediately respond to YourStory’s request for comment. This story will be updated with the company’s response when we receive a reply.
A senior executive at BYJU’S said most of the upper management is scouting for jobs outside already because they’ve “lost faith in the company.”
“There’s very little meat inside the company… it’s running on investor money basically, and the discussion internally is ‘what happens once investors stop seeing any return potential (in the company)’,” they said.
“Byju (Raveendran, Founder and CEO) thinks we’re too big to fail, but we saw what happened the last time big financial corporations thought that way.”
Another source independently corroborated the lack of energy in the company.
“Across most of the company, morale in teams is ridiculously low. Most people have one foot out the door, they’re trying to land something else. But as you know, the market is pretty bad,” said a former employee who was recently laid off after three years at BYJU’S.
They added that they were informed about the layoff over a video call that had senior directors and HR personnel present. No emails were sent, and the reasons listed ran the usual gamut—including cost-benefit analysis, and lack of revenue generation from a particular unit.
Email addresses have been deactivated, and those affected were given 24 hours to wrap up, the person said.
A lot of people are “completely devastated”, this person said, adding that the company is “squeezing really hard to make it look profitable again”.
On the sidelines of The World Economic Forum in Davos mid-last month, Byju had told Moneycontrol in an interview that the worst was over for the edtech firm adding that it would turn profitable at a company level by the March or the June quarter.
Previously, BYJU’S had axed around 2,500 jobs in October as part of its cost-cutting measures. At the time, the Founder-CEO had said he would ensure newly created relevant roles are made available to those laid off, and that rehiring them would be prioritised.
“I have already instructed our HR leaders to make all the newly created relevant roles available to you on an ongoing basis,” Byju wrote in an email to employees on October 31.
Recently, the edtech company has come under scrutiny due to its questionable accounting procedures and substantial downsizing. One of the sources quoted above told YourStory BYJU’S cited “cash problems” as a reason for the layoffs.
The startup, which was last valued at $22 billion, reported a loss of Rs 4,564.38 crore in FY21, bigger than its FY20 loss which stood at Rs 305.5 crore.
Best six months?
At TechSparks 2022, YourStory‘s flagship startup-tech event, Byju said he was confident the company will recoup at least half of its losses in FY 2021-22.
“Wait for (FY) 2022 numbers to come out; we just finished our best six months,” he’d said.
On layoffs, he said that in business functions that were scaling up, the startup had hired 1,500 people just a month before his appearance at TechSparks 2022.
“In one year, we added 25,000 jobs, and we plan to add 10,000 teachers more,” he had said.
BYJU’S raised $250 million in a fresh funding round from its existing investors, including QIA (Qatar Investment Authority) in October, after picking up $800 million from Blackrock, Sumeru Ventures, and others in March.
The company also took on an unsecured loan of Rs 300 crore ($36.45 million) from its wholly-owned subsidiary Aakash Educational Services—which it had acquired in April 2021 for a cash and stock deal of close to $950 million—for “principal business activities”.
In January 2019, it acquired US-based startup Osmo—an app that children can use offline—for $120 million. Osmo was founded by former Google employees Jerome Scholler and Pramod Sharma. The platform offers educational courses with the use of games, videos and other materials for classes four to 12 and had raised $30 million in funding.
A source said a lot of the Osmo team, particularly in design and product management, were laid off too.
(Additional reporting by Ishan Patra)