UpGrad’s founder blames Raveendran, investors for current state of Byju’s | Company News – Business Standard

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Ronnie Screwvala’s UpGrad is speeding toward a landmark $1 billion valuation. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Ronnie Screwvala, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of edtech platform UpGrad


Byju Raveendran, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Byju’s, along with its nearly 51 investors, are responsible for the beleaguered edtech firm’s current predicaments, said Ronnie Screwvala, executive chairman and co-founder of edtech platform UpGrad.


Speaking at the second edition of the ASU+GSV & Emeritus Summit in Gurugram, he emphasised that “one rotten apple” should not affect the entire edtech sector.


“They (Byju’s investors) felt that it was more important in board meetings to ask when’s your next secondary, versus ‘I don’t see a CFO in the room’. And so, that one single aspect I don’t think is going to hold the whole education sector to ransom,” he said.


Byju’s has, of late, been at the receiving end of valuation cuts, corporate governance lapses and funding difficulties. Screwvala, a serial entrepreneur and investor himself, has been a vocal critic of Byju’s.


In a recent post on social media platform X, the UpGrad founder came out in support of Byju’s shareholders’ decision to call an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to oust Raveendran.


Screwvala claimed that, to mitigate such instances, board members and investors need to be active and ask the right questions.


“Why would anyone stop asking questions after they put in $100 million to $4 billion? You have the right to do that. In those exact companies, if people had asked questions that they’re now beginning to ask, four years back – it could have been a different story. It (Byju’s) may not have even raised the $4 billion it did,” he said.


He urged investors and board members to exercise their fiduciary responsibility, ask the right questions and protect their investments.


Screwvala’s comments come at a time when the Indian edtech sector has been going through a severe funding crunch.


He claimed that excessive funding in the edtech sector can be detrimental, and it needs more frugality.


“This sector is very high on impact. It will be very high on value creation, but we’ve got to find the right mix. And for that, I don’t think we need the money that everyone keeps talking about in this sector,” he said.


Many entrepreneurs, he added, tend to focus on funding as their “first stop”, where it should be “number five on your list.”


“I think part of the rotten apples is because there was just too much money being thrown… This sector needs change with frugality. What I mean by frugality is that it forces you to innovate well, well beyond,” he said.

First Published: Feb 14 2024 | 7:56 PM IST

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