The employees who resigned didn’t want to relocate to their respective office locations

Bengaluru, NFAPost: Over 800 WhiteHat Jr employees have resigned from the Byju’s-owned edtech start-up in the last two months after being asked to work from office, according to an Inc42 exclusive report.

Mumbai-based WhiteHat Jr, which was acquired by edtech giant Byju’s for $300 million in 2020, had asked all its employees to work from the office within a month’s time.

The employees who resigned didn’t want to relocate to their respective office locations. These include employees in areas such as sales, coding and math, according to the Inc42 report. In a company-wide email, the firm had asked its remote staff to return to the office.

According to the Inc42 report, a few employees termed the exercise a cost-cutting exercise and some said giving just a month’s time to relocate is not enough and the firm should have increased their pay for moving to expensive cities.

In 2020, WhiteHat Jr founder Karan Bajaj sold his 18-month-old start-up to Byju’s founder and chief executive officer Byju Raveendran for $300 million in an all-cash deal — over the video conferencing platform Zoom itself. Bajaj continued to lead and scale this business in India and the US.

Last year in August, Bajaj decided to move on and at that time it had grown as a team of over 17,000 employees and teachers in multiple countries around the world from India, Australia and UK to US and Latin America. Later, Ananya Tripathi, an MD at KKR Capstone and formerly a chief strategy officer at Myntra, was appointed as Whitehat Jr CEO.

The edtech sector has been witnessing consolidation over the last 12 months amid the pandemic. In February edtech startup Lido Learning shut operations. This led its employees to seek help via social media platforms. Many employees and vendors complained about not getting salaries for nearly two months and delayed payments on professional networking platforms and social media.

Recently, edtech unicorn Unacademy laid off about 600 employees comprising nearly 10 per cent of its workforce in a move that is being seen as a focus on profitability as well as consolidation and cost-cutting drive in the space amid the pandemic, according to the sources.

The SoftBank-backed firm has a workforce of 6,000 laid-off full-time employees, contractual workers and educators across the organisation. Based on the outcome of several assessments, Bengaluru-based Unacademy had said a small subset of employee, contractor, and educator roles were re-evaluated due to role redundancy and performance, as is common for any organization of our size and scale. Recently, edtech unicorn Vedantu also fired about 200 contractual as well full-time employees.

“As part of our back-to-work drive, most of our Sales and Support employees have been asked to report to Gurgaon and Mumbai offices from April 18. We have made exceptions for medical and personal exigencies and have offered relocation assistance as required. Our teachers will continue to work from home,” said a WhiteHat Jr. spokesperson.

The spokesperson also said WhiteHat Jr.’s vision is to democratise education in India to enable the next generation to learn critical skill sets and become technology creators of the future.

“We continue to invest in developing relevant curriculum for students and build a strong teacher community with high recruitment and training standards,” states the spokesperson.

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