Ed-tech company Byju’s has been grappling with a financial crisis, and in their latest move, the shareholders of the company have moved a resolution seeking the ouster of the founders from top leadership roles, including CEO Byju Raveendran.
The investors and CEO continue to be at a standoff as Byju’s is currently facing a lawsuit in the United States disputing terms and payment of a loan. The company’s valuation has taken a major hit, diminishing to nearly 10 percent of its all time high.
At its peak, Byju’s was valued at $22 billion in March 2022, when online education demand was skyrocketing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the company’s valuation has fallen to between $1 billion and $3 billion, some of the investors of the firm said.
After layoffs of thousands of employees and constant payroll interruptions over the last year, here is all you need to know about the ongoing financial crisis in Byju’s, and how top leadership is responding to it.
Byju’s crisis explained
Byju’s valuation started to take a hit in 2023 when the demand for online education started to subside, especially with more competition in the industry. In April 2023, the ed-tech firm’s struggle began when it came under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), with three of its offices raided under provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
ED slapped a FEMA violation notice on Byju’s worth ₹9,362.35 crore. Legal troubles continued to mount for the ed-tech company after one of its foreign lenders ended up filing a lawsuit against Byju’s in 2023.
US-based investment firm Redwood cut a loan of $1.2 billion to Byju’s in November 2021, but the ed-tech firm failed to make a quarterly interest payment of ₹330 crore. After being faced with a lawsuit, Byju’s further filed a case against Redwood for “accelerating its demand” to pay the loan.
This prompted several high profile exits from the company, including three of its board of directors – GV Ravi Shankar, Russell Dreisenstock and Vivian Wu. Deloitte, the financial auditor of the company, also resigned in 2023.
The year 2023 saw thousands of layoffs across all departments in Byju’s and constant payroll interruptions as the company attempted to cut costs, sparking a backlash against founder and CEO Byju Raveendran.
In November 2023, a US court ruled in the favour of the lenders, saying that there was nothing wrong with consortium of lenders of Byju’s appointing a director on a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that borrowed $1.2 billion, and removing Riju Raveendran, brother of the CEO, from the SPV’s board.
With pressure from lender’s mounting on Byju’s, the company decided to further cut its valuation. Byju’s is currently seeking to raise $200 million against a valuation of $250 million, as investor seek an ouster of founder Byju Raveendran from the board.
As many as six shareholders of Byju’s parent company Think and Learn Private Limited moved the resolution to fire CEO Byju Raveendran. However, the company pushed back by saying that shareholders don’t hold the authority to vote on CEO change.