Even as Byju’s is set to lay off nearly 2,500, or 5 per cent, of its employees as part of an “optimisation” plan, the educational technology (edtech) firm is planning to go on a hiring spree. It plans to hire 10,000 teachers in the next six months, adding to the current strength of 20,000 teachers.
The company is also expanding its teams, besides hiring senior leadership, to further build operational strength. The hiring strategy is going to play a key role in the company’s optimisation plan as it looks to target profitability by March 2023. Byju’s plans to hire people in regions such as India, US and Latin America. Almost half of the recruitment would be done in India, while the rest would be conducted in overseas markets.
“The plan is to go deeper in India and to go global. About 60-70 per cent of our teachers are women. They are able to utilize the benefit of being able to teach from their home or anywhere in the world. It was a model that we launched during the pandemic,” said Byju’s co-founder Divya Gokulnath in an interview with Business Standard on Thursday night. “That is what we’re scaling further.The plan is to add 10,000 more teachers over the next six months.”
Gokulnath said that Byju’s model related to product development has matured. She said that the focus of the hiring plays a role in scaling up the products ranging from providing the services to running the learning centres and delivering the lectures.
“We have already built Byju’s classes platform and scaled up tuition centres. We need teachers to ensure that we are able to have more batches of students,” said Gokulnath. “So the hiring of teachers is a clear strategy to enhance the scale and make sure that our revenue target is on track.”
The staff would have an option to work full-time or on a contract basis. Full-time teachers would be available for large batches of students, while as contractual mentors would be available for one-on-one learning.
“The idea is to provide flexibility,” said Gokulnath. “Our hiring plans are all about building the right kind of expertise to help us become a global brand and enhance the scale of our offerings.”
Byju’s booked a loss of Rs 4,588 crore for the financial year ended March 31, 2021, 19 times more than the preceding year, according to its latest financial report. The edtech giant, which was last valued at $22 billion, earned Rs 2,428 crore in revenues in FY21. Its adjusted revenue in FY20 was Rs 2,511 crore and the adjusted loss was Rs 300 crore.
Byju’s said it is working on ensuring sustainable growth and taking measures to help it achieve profitability. Under the optimisation plan, the company is bringing the K10 subsidiaries — Meritnation, TutorVista, Scholar, and HashLearn — under the India business unit. Other acquisitions Aakash and Great Learning would function separately. The company is also realigning marketing spending to enhance its global footprint.
To deal with such tasks, Byju’s is strengthening its senior leadership team. The company is improving the controls and strengthening the finance function and will also hire a global chief financial officer (CFO) soon.
“We’ve initiated the process to look for the right candidate,” said Gokulnath.
This year, Byju’s also hired Sunil Sharma as vice-president (V-P), engineering–student and teacher experience, and Darshan Bhandari as V-P, engineering–tuition centre and devices. It appointed another Amazon tech veteran Vedhanarayanan Ganeshkumar as V-P–tech division.
This year, Byju’s had announced the appointment of Mani Bansal and Maneesh Agrawal to lead key tech functions in an effort towards strengthening its tech vertical. In May, the firm appointed consulting firm Kearney executive Himanshu Bajaj as head of business to lead Byju’s Learning Centre. It also appointed ex-Bain & Company partner Rachna Bahadur as senior V-P to lead the global expansion plans for the firm as well.
The firm said that it has already started shifting its focus towards profitable growth. It said revenue of $2 billion was within sight of the firm and that the company’s FY22 revenue was nearly Rs 10,000 crore, or $1.3 billion.
“Our target is to grow at the current rate at which we are growing. There is no compromise in that because we are at an inflection point in edtech,” said Gokulnath. “Now our every single product has seen a phenomenal uptick. There is no room to slow down.”
She said another important goal to ensure that education reaches everyone is also scaling up equally. “We have 5 million children who are learning for free. My mission is to ensure that for every paid student who’s with us, there is a student who’s learning for free and that for me is breakeven,” said Gokulnath.