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Byju’s denies coding platform WhiteHat Jr shutting down, says it’s ‘optimising it for growth’

Byju’s acquired WhiteHat Jr for $300 million in 2020. Reports had hinted that edtech giant was considering move to wind up the 'coding-for-kids' platform.

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New Delhi: Rejecting speculation that it has plans to shut down its ‘coding-for-kids’ platform, edtech giant Byju’s has said in a statement that it is “optimising White Hat Junior for organic and efficient growth”. The statement added that Byju’s wants to rationalise its business to enhance efficiency.

Byju’s was reacting to reports hinting that it might shut down WhiteHat Jr, which gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sources within WhiteHat Jr had hinted at internal discussions that Byju’s might wind up operations of the coding platform it acquired in 2020. WhiteHat Jr’s decision to lay off more than 300 employees last year in an attempt to cut costs had further fuelled speculation that all was not right.

WhiteHat Jr reported losses of Rs 1,690 crore in FY 2020-21, while its parent company Byju’s reported losses of Rs 4,589 crore in the same financial year.

Dismissing reports suggesting that it plans to shut down WhiteHat Jr, Byju’s said in a statement Thursday, “Regarding the specific question on White Hat Junior, we have no plans of shutting it down. We are merely optimising it for organic and efficient growth. We remain fully committed to delivering world-class educational experiences and solutions that empower students to achieve their full potential.”

“At the group level, in accordance with its steadfast commitment towards achieving operational profitability, Byju’s is constantly evaluating and optimising its business operations towards global growth. As an ongoing activity, we are actively evaluating all our business units to ensure that they are aligned with our path to profitability,” the statement added.

Byju’s had in a press statement last October announced its plan to attain a “path to profitability” and its target to achieve overall profitability by March 2023. The statement also talked about consolidating the company’s K-12 businesses, re-inventing its sales model and “retargeting of the marketing budget”, among other things.

It added that the “steps are also meant to prepare the path towards a stellar listing eventually as the world’s largest edtech company that has turned profitable, eventually”.

Byju’s bought WhiteHat Jr for $300 million in 2020. 

However, the acquisition was followed by an array of controversies, starting with the exit of its founder Karan Bajaj in August 2021. The next year, 800 employees resigned from the company in May after it decided to bring the workforce back to its offices post-pandemic. The ‘coding-for-kids’ platform was also accused of posting misleading advertisements showing children aged 10-12 gaining success by becoming ace coders.

An insider at WhiteHat Jr told ThePrint that business has been down post-pandemic as the craze for coding among young adults seems to have waned with time. This, combined with the other controversies, has spelled trouble for the company, the insider added.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Byju’s to Lido, India’s Edtech sector is leaking complaints. Unchecked power, no trust


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