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As India’s Edtech Bubble Bursts, Byju’s Faces Litmus Test

As India reopens amid a “hybrid normal,” with schools and colleges returning to normal, edtech platforms are seeing a significant drop in demand for online learning, and some of these companies have either closed or fired employees; Byju’s is also struggling to keep up with the changing times.

The most well-known startup under its umbrella that is having problems is the online coding platform WhiteHat Jr, which was purchased for $300 million in July 2020. With WhiteHat Jr, Byju’s wanted to bring coding to the rest of the globe from India, employing teachers on a contract basis. However, the platform’s Australia and UK regions only brought in Rs 12.34 crore and Rs 11.07 crore, respectively. WhiteHat Jr lost Rs 1,690 crore in the fiscal year 2021 while generating Rs 484 crore in operating revenue during the same year. The platform’s losses increased dramatically in FY21, with expenses reaching Rs 2,175 crore, up from Rs 69.7 crore in FY20.

Sensing a shift in the educational landscape, Byju’s recently opened 80 physical tuition facilities in 200 locations, with plans to expand them to 500 by 2022, employing around 10,000 people, including teachers. It’s been on an acquisition spree for a long time. It has acquired several prominent firms, like Aakash Educational Services Ltd and Great Learning. In July 2021, it acquired Epic for $500 million, Osmo for $120 million in January 2019 and TutorVista, Edurite from Pearson in July 2017. Last month, it announced a new partnership with QIA to launch a new edtech business and state-of-the-art research centre in Doha.

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