According to three persons with knowledge of the situation, Prosus-backed edtech company Brainly, an online community learning platform, has dismissed some of its workers internationally, including about 30 people in India. “On October 28, a call on the video platform Google Meet resulted in the termination of almost the entire India staff. The number of workers being let go totals about 30 across all departments… On the condition of anonymity, one of the insiders stated, “Only five members of the India team have been retained.
At least 50% of those affected were women who had only been employed for a few months or less with diversity in mind. According to a second insider, the five people that were retained had been working from home for the past five years. About 35 employees made up the India team, the majority of them worked at Bengaluru’s UB City headquarters.
The total number of layoffs worldwide could not be determined, although according to the networking website LinkedIn, the firm had around 860 workers as of September. After the deadline for publication, the corporation responded to emails from readers, saying that only India was affected. “Brainly will now be available to the full community of Brainly.in users for free as we have chosen to discontinue selling subscription plans to them. This has nothing to do with our worldwide operation “According to the company’s answer to VCCircle.
Employees from the Poland-based edtech startup’s customer care, product, marketing, tutoring and in-house academic team, legal, and technical divisions have all been let go. Another individual verified that one person was hired from the legal, human resources, and financial departments to complete the paperwork.
“The majority of the sacked workers were employed about two to five months ago. During the week of Diwali, we received a call on Google Meet. Since India is a very sluggish market, the firm has shifted its strategy to refocus on the US, according to Micha (Borkowski), our global CEO. Our fax, emails, etc., were instantly disconnected. We were really surprised… I understand that Indian companies appear to handle this (layoffs) considerably better, remarked one affected former employee who had just gone through a second such layoff.
Up to the time of publication, an email sent to the Brainly communications staff and to co-founder and CEO Borkowski received no response. Later, in response to inquiries, Brainly’s communications team stated, “These were the positions on the Brainly.in team that were responsible for creating new premium plans. We had issued departure packages to all 25 individuals whose positions were impacted before this information became public.”
When reached, Narasimha Jayakumar, Managing Director of Brainly India, acknowledged that India remained one of the company’s key markets but denied to provide any information on the pink slips issued since he has the authority to do so. Jayakumar is still involved in the India business now. The firm said in its statement, “Members of the Brainly.in team will now focus on the new aims, enabling ongoing growth in India.”
Another former employee, who wished to remain unnamed, stated: “We were briefed about having an 18-month runway just two weeks earlier… The business has been working on a cut-and-paste of KnowledgeBase, a commercialized teaching platform from the US that was slated to launch in the next two weeks.
Technically, no severance has been paid, but we will get paid for three months in installments instead. Bonuses and variable compensation were included in the salary, the employee stated. In December 2020, Learn Capital, an existing investor, led a $80 million Series D round that also included General Catalyst Partners, Runa Capital, and MantaRay as well as Prosus NV, the investment arm of Naspers, a South African conglomerate.
Brainly, a knowledge-sharing website founded in 2009, claims to have 300 million students and professionals using its platform to assist students and parents in completing homework assignments and pursuing independent study outside of the classroom. When the firm secured $30 million in its Series C round of fundraising in 2019, it was allegedly valued at $180 million.
According to Brainly, there are about 55 million monthly users in India. Large learning communities exist in Indonesia, Brazil, the US, Russia, and Latin America in addition to India. The platforms assist students in resolving their doubts and questions about fundamental academic disciplines including math, science, social studies, and languages like english and hindi.
Students are exposed to top instructors, excellent material, and a vast knowledge base that includes free access to state board and NCERT books, textbooks, test prep materials, video-based sessions, and other resources. Up until recently, Brainly planned to provide additional tutoring capabilities to the site for a more customized and engaging learning environment.
Startups, particularly those in the Indian edtech sector, have been at the center of the layoff storm over the past several months. This includes Byju’s, one of the world’s largest edtech companies, which is financed by Tiger Global. The post-Covid reintroduction of physical education has had a significant influence on some edtech players, who have stated their plans to cut back. In order to reach profitability by March 2023, Byju’s said last month that it would have to lay off some 2,500 workers, or 5% of its staff, during the following six months.
While previously Vedantu, WhiteHat Jr (now acquired by Byju’s), and other startups like logistics company FarEye, used-cars service provider Cars24, Meesho, OkCredit, and several others have laid off or retrenched over 15,000 employees as part of the startup ecosystem, FrontRow, which is backed by Eight Roads Ventures, laid off about 130 people (75%) from its workforce in the middle of October. Business-to-business upstart Udaan has reportedly fired up to 350 people since June, and that was as recently as last week.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma