Byju Raveendran, chief executive officer and founder of Byju’s said that the edtech giant has to part ways with 2500 employees to avoid role duplication across the company’s businesses. The firm, which is valued at $22 billion, is targeting to be profitable by March next year.
“There is a huge price to pay for walking on this path to profitability,” said Raveendran in an internal company letter addressed to the employees and reviewed by Business Standard. “We have always taken pride in taking care of our employees and retaining them forever. So, it is with a heavy heart that we have had to take this difficult decision.”
Raveendran said some business decisions have to be taken to protect the health of the larger organization and pay heed to the constraints imposed by external macroeconomic conditions.
“I am truly sorry to those who will have to leave Byju’s. You are not just a name to me. You are not a number. You are not just five percent of my company. You are five percent of me,” said Raveendran.
According to sources, Byju’s is implementing an “optimisation plan”, where it is set to lay off nearly 2,500, or 5 per cent of its 50,000 employees. Byju’s saw a loss of Rs 4,588 crore for the financial year ended March 31, 2021. The company has raised a total funding of $5.8 billion from investors such as BlackRock, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia, General Atlantic, Tiger Global and QIA.
“Over the past couple of weeks, you would have read or heard about our plans to rationalise our team size,” said Raveendran. “Some of you, I understand, might be confused about this or maybe hearing conflicting statements.”
Explaining the rationale behind the company’s current strategic plan, Raveendran said the firm had scaled up quickly and massively across the world in the last four years and crossed 150 million learners globally. He said 2018 to 2021 were the company’s hyper-growth years and it regularly broke records on every business metric. It expanded significantly both in its core business and by onboarding team members from the acquisitions.
Then 2022 happened. This is the year when many adverse macroeconomic factors changed the business landscape.
“These have compelled tech companies around the world to focus on sustainability and capital-efficient growth. Byju’s is no exception to this trend,” said Raveendran. “It is now time for us to grow sustainably. So, we decided to define our ‘path to profitability and sustainable growth’ – and to walk on it in earnest.”
He said the firm is working hard towards achieving profitability at the group level in this financial year itself. However, Byju’s rapid organic and inorganic growth have created some inefficiencies, redundancies, and duplication within the organization, that it needs to rationalize to realize this.
“I know that nothing can really compensate for your loss. And I completely understand if you are upset about this. Because it breaks my heart too – much more than you think,” said Raveendran. “I hope you will believe me when I say ‘I tried my best to save your position’. Please also know that this is not a reflection of your performance. And I promise that you will not walk out of this house alone. The rest of us will walk by your side and support your transition.”
Raveendran said the firm has made available the best possible exit package to the employees which have to part ways with the company. This includes extended medical insurance coverage for them and their family members and outplacement services led by some of the industry’s finest recruitment specialists. It also includes a fast-track full-and-final settlement, and a special provision to allow them to look for jobs while on Byju’s payroll.
“I seek your forgiveness if this process is not as smooth as we had intended it to be. While we want to finish this process smoothly and efficiently, we don’t want to rush through it,” said Raveendran. “So, we are informing all the affected team members individually with the dignity, empathy, and patience they deserve. I want to emphasize that the overall job cuts are not more than five percent of our total strength.”
He said the hands, hearts, and minds that built the world’s leading edtech company will always be in demand. “Bringing you back by putting our company on a sustainable growth path will now be the number 1 priority for me,” said Raveendran. “I have already instructed our HR leaders to make all the newly created relevant roles available to you on an ongoing basis.”