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'After many rocking years, we needed a rocky year'

By Shivani Shinde
January 03, 2023 09:56 IST
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'Criticism is one thing, and cynicism is quite another.'
'However, we are undaunted by this negativity because we know the truth.'

IMAGE: Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, Byju's. Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju's, in his year-end letter to his team, said 2022 would be seen as defining year in his company's history.

'After many rocking years, we needed a rocky year to pave the way for our long-term success and resilience. Ultimately, the challenges faced this year have equipped us to weather every future storm and thrive for decades to come,' Raveendran said in the internal letter.

2022 was the year of learning for all tech businesses, of every kind, he said. 'We had our share of learnings and growing, too. This was the year of introspection and action. But despite the challenges we faced, we persevered.'

On the recent criticism of the company, he said: 'Hate is public and love is private.'

'Criticism is one thing, and cynicism is quite another. However, we are undaunted by this negativity because we know the truth. Every week, we receive thousands of messages from our students, which they send us directly, sharing their love and gratitude,' he said.

Byju's, the highest valued unicorn in India has, in the recent past, came under severe criticism over its policies on onboarding students, sacking employees, and constant delays in filing its financial reports.

Recently, it was pulled up by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights over allegations that malpractices had been committed by the company's sales team.

Raveendran acknowledged that the first six years of Byju's were those of steady growth and the next four -- from 2017 to 2021 -- saw the company's exponential rise.


Photograph: Kind courtesy Byju's/Twitter

'We grew product-wise, and we grew service-wise. We grew organically, and we grew inorganically. We grew in India, and we grew around the world. The third, final and forever phase of Byju's will be that of sustainable growth. While we were expecting this third phase to begin in 2024, the macroeconomic changes of 2022 meant that we had to embark on the path to profitability this year itself,' he said.

'Growth with efficiency became our theme for this year. This did not mean investing less, but investing better and prioritising more rigorously.'

'Unfortunately, this also meant I had to make the most painful decision of my life by letting go of some of our family members. The prevailing macroeconomic conditions and the integration of our acquired companies made this inevitable. We have also shifted our sales model towards inside sales, which is a result of BYJU'S strong brand visibility and deep customer trust,' he wrote.

Raveendran added that the company is aiming to be profitable at the group level in the coming year itself.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Byju's

'Conventional wisdom suggested that we should pause and wait for the market conditions to improve. But we did not just 'soft launch 'our hybrid model in 2022. In scaling up from 0 to 300+ BTCs in less than a year, we set up a new record in both ambition and execution.

'Combine them with the 300+ centres of Aakash BYJU'S, then add the 250+ more BTCs that we will be opening in 2023 and you will have India's largest physical distribution networks for educational products and services for K12 and test-prep, by a huge margin,” he said.

Because of this diversification Byju's can now serve our 150 million learners through our classrooms, apps and hybrid centres.

'I feel that the words of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami best summarise the significance of this year for me: 'And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.'

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/

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Shivani Shinde
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