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Exclusive: Byju’s COO Mrinal Mohit likely to head India operations as Raveendran focuses on global business

Mrinal Mohit, Byju's COO, who has been heading the Byju’s’ offline forays, has also been looking after India operations for almost two months will now get elevated to a much ‘larger role,’ said the people, requesting anonymity. Discussions are still on and Mohit’s designation is yet to be finalised, the people added.

May 30, 2022 / 02:59 PM IST
Byju Raveendran, Byju’s founder and CEO.

Byju Raveendran, Byju’s founder and CEO.

Byju's, India's most valued startup, is preparing to elevate Chief Operating Officer Mrinal Mohit to a larger role as Byju Raveendran, the founder and chief executive officer of India's most-valued startup, shifts focus to global operations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mohit, who has been heading Byju’s’ offline forays, has also been looking after India operations for almost two months. Discussions are still on and Mohit’s designation is yet to be finalised, the sources said, refusing to be identified.

Following Mohit’s promotion, Raveendran may step away from routine India operations and he will focus entirely on the global businesses, especially in the US.

According to sources, Raveendran has been out of India over the last few months and has been meeting investors in the UAE and the US. He will focus on integrating the company’s global acquisitions with the brand Byju’s as the company’s India business is pretty much saturated, the sources said.

Byju's declined to comment on the development.

Raveendran’s move to shift focus on global operations comes at a time when Byju’s is in talks to raise $1 billion in acquisition financing. Recently in an interview with the Economic Times, Raveendran said that the company will look to make multi-billion-dollar acquisitions in the US and elsewhere and is hence accessing all kinds of capital.

In March, Byju’s had announced raising $800 million with Raveendran leading the funding by committing $400 million to the round, along with participation from Sumeru Ventures, Vitruvian Partners and BlackRock. Raveendran’s stake in the company was set to increase to 25 percent after his $400-million investment from 23 percent.

Earlier this month, Moneycontrol had reported that Raveendran had set up a separate entity called Byju's Investments to route his personal investment into Think and Learn, the entity that runs the edtech Byju's.

Sources also told Moneycontrol that Raveendran has so far got commitments worth $200 million of the $400-million debt that he plans to raise. In February, Byju’s had announced offline forays with physical tuition centres and had said it will invest $200 million for setting up these centers.

Byju’s aggressive fundraises, acquisition and expansion plans come at a time when the edtech sector in India is witnessing a slowdown amid a drop in demand for technology-based education solutions, thanks to schools, colleges and physical tuition centers reopening.

Moreover, funding to the overall startup ecosystem in India is drying up amid a slowdown in global financial markets, compelling firms to lay off employees, shut non-core verticals and rationalise advertising and marketing spends.

The funding winter, however, seems to have hit edtech startups the most, who had witnessed hypergrowth over the last two years. Edtech firms have laid off over 3,200 employees since the start of 2022. Many edtech companies are also prioritising profitability over growth and expansion as the funding winter is expected to last for at least 18-24 months.

For instance, earlier this week, in a letter to employees, Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Unacademy said that the compay must focus on profitability at all costs.

Byju’s, however, had reported a loss of Rs 262 crore on a revenue of Rs 2,700 crore. The company is yet to file results for 2020-21 (FY21) and 2021-22 (FY22).

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Chandra R Srikanth
Chandra R Srikanth is Editor- Tech, Startups, and New Economy
Nikhil Patwardhan