Turn, and turn again: Byju’s forced to rejig finance leadership as CFO quits

CFO Ajay Goel, who has completed its FY22 audit, is returning to his former job at Vedanta — the latest in a long series of financial pivots at the edtech unicorn

Logo of Byjus (Photo courtesy: Byjus)
Logo of Byjus (Photo courtesy: Byjus)

Aditya Anand

Byju's, the educational technology giant, has announced that its chief financial officer (CFO), Ajay Goel, has resigned after completing the audit process for the financial year 2022.

Goel will be returning to his previous employer Vedanta, as per a statement released by the company. The edtech major has brought on board industry veteran Pradip Kanakia as a senior advisor, meanwhile, and president (finance) Nitin Golani has been entrusted with additional responsibilities as the India CFO to oversee the company's financial functions.

Ajay Goel signed off saying, "I thank the founders and colleagues at Byju's for helping me assemble the FY'22 audit in three months. I appreciate the support received during a short but impactful stint at Byju's." He will transition after completing the formalities for the financial year (FY) 2022 audit, the statement mentioned.

The company is awaiting approval to file its long-pending financial results for FY2022. After facing a delay of over 19 months, Byju's expects to announce its financial results for FY22 by the end of this week.

Ajay Goel will be returning to Anil Agarwal’s mining conglomerate Vedanta in time to help with splitting the metals firm into six listed companies.

In June of this year, Byju's long-standing auditor Deloitte raised concerns regarding revenue recognition methods for its accounts in FY21, ultimately resigning due to the delay in declaring FY22 results.

Byju's had initially missed its deadline to file the FY22 financial results in September, with a board meeting convened in October for approval and adoption of accounts for FY22. The company had informed investors and lenders that it would file its FY22 financial statements by September.

Byju's is also conducting layoffs, planning to cut 4,000–5,000 employees in a 'business restructuring exercise' in the coming weeks, reportedly to simplify operating structures, reduce costs and improve cash flow management.

This series of crises, including delayed financial filings, an interest payment default on a term loan, and legal disputes with creditors, has raised significant concerns about the company's stability.

Despite its meteoric rise during the pandemic, Byju's now faces investigations, board departures and potential valuation cuts. A legal battle over a $1.2 billion loan has added to the company's woes, with several US-based investors accusing Byju's of concealing significant financial concerns, resulting in lawsuits.

These challenges come even as Byju's grapples with intense competition in the edtech industry, having to constantly update content to align with changing curricula, and difficulties in measuring student engagement and progress.

The company is working on innovative solutions to address these issues, but its future remains uncertain.

Byju's soared to success during the pandemic-driven surge in online learning demand. However, as that demand wanes, the company faces financial and operational challenges that have prompted criticism from prominent social media figures, alongside industry experts questioning its valuation.

CEO Byju Raveendran, however, remains optimistic, stating that the best of Byju's is yet to come, leaving observers to wonder if the company can weather the storm and regain its former glory.

Only time will tell.

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