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Byju's Advisory Panel Suffers Blow as Kumar, Pai Exit Amidst Legal Turmoil

Byju's faces another setback as Rajnish Kumar and TV Mohandas Pai decide not to renew their contracts on the advisory panel. The move comes amidst mounting legal battles and financial woes for the edtech giant.

Byju's Advisory Panel Suffers Blow as Kumar, Pai Exit Amidst Legal Turmoil

Byju's, the once-booming edtech giant, is facing yet another hurdle as two key members of its advisory panel, Rajnish Kumar and TV Mohandas Pai, have decided not to renew their contracts. This news comes as Byju's continues to battle a wave of legal troubles and financial woes, raising concerns about the company's future.

                                                         

Kumar, a former chairman of the State Bank of India, and Pai, the ex-CFO of Infosys, were brought in last year to bolster Byju's credibility and reassure investors apprehensive about the company's direction. Their one-year term comes to an end in June, and both have opted not to continue their association with Byju's.

 

Mounting Legal Battles Cited as Reason for Departure

According to a report by Livemint, Kumar and Pai's decision stems from the multitude of lawsuits Byju's faces in India and the US. Creditors and key shareholders are locked in legal battles with Byju's founder, Raveendran, accusing him of mismanagement and seeking his removal.

 

The advisory panel was tasked with a three-pronged approach: convincing Byju's to disclose its financial statements, aiding Raveendran in rebuilding his team, and fostering improved communication with shareholders. However, an unnamed source close to the company revealed that initial progress was hampered by the onslaught of legal challenges. While the advisory board reportedly worked on expanding the board and restructuring its committees, Byju's quickly became embroiled in a web of litigation.

 

Byju's Response and Ongoing Crisis

Byju Raveendran acknowledged the delay in achieving their plans due to the lawsuits but expressed his continued respect for Kumar and Pai's advice. "Their advice will be relied upon in the ongoing rebuild which I am personally leading," he stated.

 

In a separate statement, Kumar and Pai clarified their stance. They mentioned that "based on our discussions with the founders, it was mutually decided that the tenure of the advisory council should not be extended." While their formal engagement concludes, they offered continued support if needed, wishing Byju's well for the future.

 

It's important to remember Byju's once-illustrious position. In 2022, the company was a shining star in the startup world, boasting a valuation of $22 billion. However, that valuation has since plummeted to a mere $1 billion, with investors like Blackrock writing off their investments.

 

Byju's troubles escalated further with the resignation of several board members, including GV Ravishankar (Peak XV Partners), Vivian Wu (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative), and Russell Dreisenstock (Prosus). These departures stemmed from concerns about Byju's corporate governance practices. Deloitte, the company's statutory auditor, also resigned due to delays in receiving necessary financial information.

 

The cascading effect of these events has been significant. Byju's has resorted to layoffs impacting thousands of employees and struggled to meet payroll deadlines. Additionally, the company faces multiple insolvency proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal. While Byju's shareholders recently approved a $200 million rights issue, accessing these funds is contingent on the resolution of ongoing court hearings.

 

Can Byju's Recover?

The departure of Kumar and Pai is another blow to Byju's already strained reputation. The company must now navigate its legal battles while simultaneously regaining investor confidence and stabilizing its financial situation. The road to recovery seems long and arduous, and only time will tell if Byju's can weather this perfect storm.


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