World’s Most-Valued Edtech Byju’s Lays Off Hundreds

Cuts at the Bangalore-based startup valued at $22 billion to hit Brazil next few days, sources say

Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO at Byju's.
June 30, 2022 | 10:43 AM

Bloomberg Línea — Indian startup Byju’s, valued at $22 billion (according to market research firm CB Insights) is laying off hundreds of employees globally, says TechCrunch, in the wake of cuts made by startups in recent months because of high-interest rates affecting tech companies. In Brazil, the layoffs are expected to take place in the next few days, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Brazilian tech companies have laid off more than 2,000 people in the last three months, according to data from LayoffsBrasil, which compiles information about layoffs on LinkedIn. Byju’s started its Brazilian operation a year ago with about 300 professionals, offering online programming classes for children through Byju’s Future School product.

According to TechCrunch, Byju’s cut 300 employees at WhiteHar Jr, its unit focused on early childhood learning, acquired for $300 million two years ago. Toppr, a Mumbai-based company bought last year by Byju’s, would also lay off just over 300 employees, according to Indian media.

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The startup also operates in Mexico, the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia and has adopted an expansion strategy with significant acquisitions.

In Mexico, Byju’s opened in 2021 and has a large pool of talent for its virtual classes and its business. The Indian edtech’s LinkedIn profile reveals it has 1,260 employees, being Mexico, with 270 persons, the second-largest operation after India (766). In turn, it says there are 136 in Brazil.

Also, as per the LinkedIn profile, Mexican universities are the main source of employees, with UNAM, the top school in the country leading Byju’s pool of talent with 29 professionals (the University of Mumbai comes in second, with 25 employees). Other relevant schools in the North American Country are Universidad del Valle de México (18), Instituto Politécnico Nacional (17), and Unitec (8).

The company has Tiger Global Management and Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg initiative among its investors, besides Silver Lake Management and Bond Capital.

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Prosus Ventures, which owns just under 10% of the startup, said its losses in the financial year ended March for its edtech investments rose to $117 million, reflecting the addition of Stack Overflow and “an increased investment in Byju’s to expand its operations.”

Byju’s has made several purchases recently, from US reading app Epic for $500m, Singapore service Great Learning for $600m, US coding site Tynker for $200m, and Austria’s maths operator GeoGebra for around $100m.

According to TechCrunch, in addition to the recent layoffs, Byju’s has reportedly delayed paying for the $1 billion acquisition of training center Aakash. But Byju’s denied this negotiation, according to BusinessToday.

According to Bloomberg News, Byju’s has lined up conditional debt commitments of over $1 billion to fund acquisitions with banks such as Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Goldman Sachs.

Bloomberg News also recently reported that Byju’s was preparing its US stock market debut through a merger with a SPAC.

Bloomberg Línea has contacted Byju’s in Brazil seeking an official statement regarding the layoffs.

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