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Eight hundred employees resign after WhiteHat Jr asks them to work from office

SmartestUnknown

God! I hope both WhiteHat Jr. and their parent company Byju's crash and burn. They are crap companies which make poor and gullible parents enroll their kids in one of their programs for extortionate amount of money. If the parents cannot afford to pay all at once, they give a "loan" to the parents and collect a part of it each month even if the kids aren't satisfied with the education that is being provided. Note that none of the kids in India use these apps as the only way to study. They attend regular schools and use these apps as an additional source. Byju's employs 1000s of people whose only job is to go visit as many houses as they can and trick the parents into subscribing for their services by falsely claiming that the only way their kids can succeed is when their education is supplemented by these apps. Many innocent people who want to do all they can to make their kids' lives better fall into the trap and then keep paying the "loan" amount back which could be a substantial part of their monthly income.

Meta and Disney invested a lot of money into these companies and they use it to bully anyone who tries to bring these issues up by shutting down their YouTube channels and filing defamation law suits [1,2]. The entire online education industry is unregulated and resort to shitty antics to extort money. I don't understand why these companies need to exist when we have other free and amazing resources online like Khan Academy which teach all topics to all ages of people.

[1] https://thepost.co.in/news/633/whitehat-jr-lawsuit-pradeep-p...

[2] https://www.reddit.com/r/india/search?q=pradeep+poonia&restr...

kamaal

>> I don't understand why these companies need to exist when we have other free and amazing resources online like Khan Academy which teach all topics to all ages of people.

Cram school culture, FOMO and dreams of children making it big.

These apps are just a part of the larger culture where IIT cram school tuitions are supposed to begin at age 11. Every one in India likes to diss on Engineering education, but it continues to remain the most predictable way of making an upper middle class living.

Parent obviously spend good money on education for this reason.

rmbyrro

Unfortunately, that's the reality of many industries and countless organizations.

I too wish this didn't exist. But I'm learning to replace wishful thinking with something better.

In this case, I think reality is providing a valuable learning opportunity to those parents: that they should verify everything before taking as truth, and only believe as an anticipation of goodwill only during the period necessary for verification (to avoid ending up pessimistic or cynic, for instance).

While there are still people that didn't learn and apply these lessons well, there will always be Byju's out there...

ClumsyPilot

'I think reality is providing a valuable learning'

What they need to be provided is a good layer, and a clampdown on corporate fraud.

pnt12

Yes, abuse should not be tolerated as a learning experience.

There isn't much hope in breaking the wheels of the megacorp and government alliances, but at the very least we can share our criticism and condemn these behaviors.

rmbyrro

That's certainly helpful to remediate, but not to prevent these things from repeating in the future.

geodel

Agree with everything you said. These asshats should crash and burn in just world.

nr2x

Yuck.

ghoomketu

For some background history whitehat jr has been accused of running misleading ads and shady marketing and also sueuing individuals for millions of dollars to keep their mouth shut.

To get more context please google "pradeep poonia whitehat" and you will get all the gory details, whatsapp chats, etc.

PragmaticPulp

Yes, there's far more to this story. This isn't your typical story of employees going remote for COVID and then being asked to return. There's a lot more wrapped up in this, including failure to adjust salaries and employees who can't relocate on short notice:

> One of the employees who resigned told the website that a month’s time was not enough for relocation. “Some have kids, some have aged and sick parents, while others have other responsibilities. It is not right to call back employees in such a short period of time,” the former WhiteHat Jr employee said.

> Another employee said salaries also factored in the decision to not return to the office. At the time of hiring, employees were told about their job location – WhiteHat Jr has offices in Gurugram, Mumbai and Bengaluru. However, after working from home for two years, employees believed that their salaries should be revised to reflect the cost of living in expensive cities.

This looks like more of an engineered layoff from a company that is already in a death spiral:

> “This was a well-planned and managed layoff that WhiteHat Jr did,” a former employee remarked.

breitling

Haven't heard from Pradeep in a while. Do you know how all those cases progressed?

amitheonlyone

Last news I saw was that Whitehat Jr withdrew their case

samstave

Uhm.... if you call yourself "whitehat jr"... I auto dont trust you.

CoastalCoder

My brain keeps parsing that as a mashup of "Whitecastle" and "Carls, Jr."

mbostleman

Ah the ever elusive causation shell game.

geocrasher

     “This was a well-planned and managed layoff that WhiteHat Jr did,” a former employee remarked.
Indeed. Vicious, but well played.

unethical_ban

Yep. One month to relocate cities? This isn't merely "drive 15 minutes to the office".

hedora

Note that, if they lay you off, you're entitled to unemployment, etc. It's probably better to refuse to resign and also refuse to move. That way, you get whatever severance benefits you are due.

If you are at the company, or just resigned because of this unreasonable policy change, I highly suggest you use your local bar association's referral service (or some other means) to schedule an inexpensive consult with a labor attorney.

phpisthebest

[Assuming US laws] In most states you can terminate employment due to "Changing of Terms and Conditions" and still get Unemployment. Of Course check your local state laws, but their is a prevailing myth that if you voluntarily quit you always forfeit unemployment, that is not true, it is harder for sure, however in a situation like this chances are you would win unemployment hearing

heroic

This would be then termination with cause. Employment agreements generally state that employees can be required to work from any location as required by the employer. Refusal is then called breach of contract and hence termination without cause.

irrational

This is in India. Do they have the same unemployment laws in India?

throwawayboise

Would refusing to move be cause for termination? That's not a layoff, perhaps, at least in the eyes of the unemployment regulations?

epgui

In Canada I think this could be a “constructive dismissal”. I believe this may be a general common-law thing, but IANAL.

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azinman2

Is that true in India?

nanidin

Yep, time to reconsider the resignations as constructive dismissal via the legal system.

Afforess

It's an old tactic, IBM used to do it all the time: https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/ibm-tells-its...

deadalus

Came across this article about Whitehat Jr, its hilarious : https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/who-wolf-gupta-story-b...

They created a fictional character 'WOLF GUPTA' to promote their brand.

kburman

Creating a fictional character is not a bad thing but what they did is the claim that it is a real story with a success story that he got a job offer from Google and package in crores(INR) all being a kid. Ran this ad nationwide on all media and mislead many parents who already have FOMO.

When asked about this kid wolf Gupta they sent a full legal team to threaten anyone who raises questions mass reporting bad reviews as a task from their employees.

And when it got out of hand they acknowledged that it was all a lie and continued misleadig parents like nothing bad in it.

ClumsyPilot

If I pulled that kind of shit in my job, I'd be fired or in jail. Surely this is fraud?

s09dfhks

Reminds me of the fictional highschool prodigy musician "Ling Ling" that the "Ling Ling 40hrs" subreddit created

simonh

Was anyone ever threatened with legal action for saying Ling Ling was a fictional character?

vishnugupta

Schools are reopening this week in India. These online coaching classes saw big growth last two years but now I expect a massive subscriber churn.

rossdavidh

This seems like a massively important bit of context which was missing from the article, thanks for telling us this! The article is clickbaity, given that I learned more context from your HN comment than their whole page of text.

unmole

Schools have been open for months in many states. And more importantly, most schools have summer vacation now.

shreyshnaccount

Schools have been open for months, atleast in the Delhi region

ushakov

what is the reason for churn?

vishnugupta

Online classes from schools in India didn’t engage kids beyond 2-3 hrs. That left a big time void which were filled by these online coaching classes.

But now with physical schools starting kids will be busy for a good 6-7 hrs after which (and home work, playtime) they will hardly have time for online coaching classes. Parents would soon realize this, if not already, and discontinue subscriptions.

samstave

This is why America is doomed internally.. we cant even have a discussion such as this, regarding what kids are busy doing studying.

I mean the entire dialogue around education from a cultural perspective is completely void in the US.

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nikolay

I have not worked at an office in the past 10 years. Can't believe some people prefer to work in the old way. Okay, I get it's convenient to spend most of the day pretending that you work - coming at 9AM and going into the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast, than getting a 2-hour lunch, having a proof on your calendar that you worked for 1 hour, when the meeting ended after 20 minutes, and people stayed there talking about anythign but work. Even if people are distracted during WFH, the waste is still much less and there are less excuses compared to WFO.

analog31

Well, working in a lab is one reason. I develop technology for scientific measurement equipment. I did OK during the lockdown by moving one of my experiments to a spare room in my basement, but whether that can work or not depends a lot on what facilities are needed for a specific project.

Sure I spend some time goofing off like you describe, but my work is neither measured nor paid by the hour.

gkoberger

I think this title/article is a bit misleading.

1/ The company was hemorrhaging money and wanted resignations (if I'm understanding "INR CR" correctly, they lost $218,102,508 USD last year??)

2/ This was India, so the stock image feels a bit misleading

3/ It happened two months ago, not recently

4/ It wasn't just coming back to the office; it was relocating people to offices who hadn't worked there before

5/ They even forced people who worked near an office go to OTHER offices in other cities

Here's the original source, which is much better (and includes details on revenue and expenses): https://inc42.com/buzz/exclusive-over-800-whitehat-jr-employ...

This isn't a case of workers preferring WFH over the office; it's a sneaky layoff.

dv_dt

If a company is hemorrhaging money, why not eliminate some office leases and keep more people remote? Maybe that comes later after the self-layoff selection?

searchableguy

Remote work at scale doesn't work well in India due to general distrust.

sokoloff

Is America known for our deep and abiding inherent trust of our fellow countrymen? (I don’t believe we’re known for that, yet remote working works here, at least to a very large degree.)

rossdavidh

Depends on whether or not office leases or salaries are the bigger expense.

dv_dt

Or one could plan to cut some of both and come out of it with a leaner opex profile that keeps more human capacity.

searchableguy

> The company was hemorrhaging money and wanted resignations

Unrelated, it's amazing how edtech startups have been beaten by traditional coaching institutions. Not only those institutions are profitable but they are beating growth numbers consistently.

prewett

I've never understood why tech people think computers are going to improve education. Education is a human activity, you cannot replace a human with a computer. At best a computer is going to be like a book v2, plus multiple choice problem sets / test. Learning from a book is hardly going to be more effective than a teacher who can adjust on the fly to the students.

jfengel

When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

If you ask techies to describe education, it consists of memorizing trivia. And that fits perfectly well into computerized education.

It doesn't help that so many school systems do in fact look at it that way. That's why we've gotten more and more standardized testing. They want to know they're getting value for money, so they define value in ways they can measure cheaply.

toshk

From personal experience teaching a small kid that does really well one on one learning. But with paper absolutely nothing.

One of the big benefits is of computers vs books: being able to directly give automated feedback.

Pronounce or type a word wrong, the computer instantly gives you specific feedback. If you do assignments on paper teachers checks it much further away from the point the cognitive effort has been applied. There is a much less direct feedback loop.

Especially for learning how to read a computer can give feedback whereas kids can go through texts not fully understanding, or misreading words without any correction.

Of course one on one is in some ways much more effective. But there are time constraints.

To automate certain things computer programs are most time effective. Just have to check in to make sure they are taking their work seriously.

It's also harder to pretend to be studying with a computer

Tepix

Apps have greatly improved my language learning, spaced repetition has been a key for learning vocabulary and it's something that computers are very good at.

Also apps like tandem have made it free, quick and easy to find someone online to practice with.

__B_B__

It's the logical conclusion derived from the conceptualization of humans as programmable machines and education as their programming. After one accepts that belief, the issue merely becomes one of economy. Managing costs.

pseudostem

As someone who is approaching mid 40s and has gone back to college, I would say I disagree with you.

Ed tech is a problem yes, because you get only 1 kind of content on a single platform. But in general, computers have given me access to so much more than a singular human interaction could.

I'll use an example (real one). "Linear Algebra" search right here on HN yields a few results and I especially liked the animated web book. Gilbert Strang's videos are well... Gilbert Strang's videos. 3blue1brown throws a fantastic perspective. Pavel Grinfeld is brilliant too.

I have so many options now, which didn't exist in 1995. And each of them is so different and great in its own way.

indigochill

> At best a computer is going to be like a book v2

Yes, I agree, but I think you underestimate just how much power v2 can bring to books.

Computers make interactive media relatively easy to create. Interactivity provides a literal new dimension to the information you can convey that makes some things easier and faster to understand than if you were to read them from a book. As a student, you can be handed a live simulation and experiment with it to "grow" an intuition for the subject matter. Nicky Case's explainers are a prime example of this in action.

kcartlidge

> I've never understood why tech people think computers are going to improve education.

For many (not necessarily all) ed-tech startups, they don't.

They aren't looking to improve education, they are looking to leverage and scale a business. And for that, 'computers' is ideal.

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happy-go-lucky

Seems like a classic example of fly-by-night companies barely staying afloat on the highly dubious claims they make about their products or services. They don't value their customers. They say they do, but they just want their money.

searchableguy

This is likely a general layoff. Edtech bubble in India has bursted. Many edtech are going through huge layoffs.

mc4ndr3

If education can work online, why not the makers of online education? Sounds like a company that doesn't believe in their own product.

matt_heimer

They hired remote workers regardless of location and decided to give everyone a month to starting working from an office?

sonicggg

Can someone enlighten me? Why would they resign instead forcing the employer to fire them? Like by not going to work or just doing a shitty job.

If you quit, you're giving up on severance or unemployment insurance benefits.

searchableguy

I can't speak for the company in question but corporate culture can be very toxic here. They might have stopped remiting salary or threatened some other action if they do not resign themselves.

saagarjha

What action can they threaten that's worse than just firing the employees?

searchableguy

It's mentioned above, no?

Holding salary as hostage until they move or resign.

The other possible outcomes are not providing experience letters, acknowledging employee worked, badmouthing, and harassing your next co-workers.

Also, many big companies here do contracts with clauses that charges a service fee and take salary or bonus back if the worker doesn't work there for at least 2 years.

If you leave soon, you might end up with negative pay.

There are lots of potential ways to force this.

vmurthy

They can refuse to give what is called a "relieving letter". That's a letter to future employers telling that this person left on good terms and his/her experience is genuine. It's a bloody effective weapon unfortunately :(

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