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Guru Gyan

What’s Brewing At WhiteHat Jr?

Mis-selling and misleading claims — What happened to the startup and why is it under fire now?

Before we head into the story, we need to tell you what WhiteHat Jr is. It is a platform that offers coding courses for kids aged six to 18 years and it was founded in 2018 by Karan Bajaj. The company also provides AI and machine learning courses to school kids. It was acquired by Byju’s for $300 million in August this year.

The Defamation Suit

Alright, now to the story. Recently, a defamation case of ₹20 crore was filed by WhiteHat Jr and Bajaj against YouTuber and alleged whistle-blower Pradeep Poonia. So, what did Poonia do? Poonia claimed that the startup is scamming its customers and also alleged that any voice raised against the company is dealt with bullying and harassment.

Allegations

For the last few months, Poonia has been putting up allegations against the company. If you were also bombarded with WhiteHat Jr ads wherever you went, you might have remembered an ad saying a kid named Wolf Gupta learned to code from WhiteHat Jr and later got hired by tech giants for an enormous salary. The catch is that that kid doesn’t exist, according to Poonia’s allegations. He said that he couldn’t find any official information about any kid hired at a high salary by any tech company.

Later in November, Poonia published a series of tweets and posted some videos that recorded the alleged private conversation of the employees of WhiteHat Jr on Slack. He went on to say that the firm has silenced the media and claimed that one of its employees was suffering from depression.

One of the major things to note about all these allegations is how WhiteHat Jr silenced people’s voice in social media. Poonia alleged that the company took down the videos created by him or other students or YouTubers against the firm and systematically removed any negative remarks from the internet. He also alleged that the firm works internally on all social media platforms in order to remove all the negative comments and build a positive bubble around its name.

The Lawsuit

The defamation suit, which we mentioned earlier, has a lot of accusations against Poonia. It accuses him of infringing trademarks and copyright of properties owned by WhiteHat Jr, defaming and spreading misleading information about the firm and Bajaj and accessing the company’s private communications’ app.

The lawsuit says that Poonia’s activities have impacted WhiteHat Jr’s business and resulted in the loss of its goodwill and reputation and the confidence of its customers in its business. The suit also says that WhiteHat Jr has suffered a significant decline in the conversion rate from trial classes to actual registrations which have severely impacted its revenue.

Misleading Ads?

Poonia is not the only one picking out the wrongdoings of the company. In late-October, the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) asked WhiteHat Jr to remove five of its ads from social media for making misleading claims. One of its popular ads uses the image of Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet Inc. Google said that WhiteHat Jr does not have the authorization to use Pichai’s image in its marketing material. In July, SpaceX also reached out to WhiteHat Jr, asking the company to refrain from using its name and logo in its sponsored posts.

Right now, we can’t say what is the truth and which is the right side. But we do know that Byju’s has big plans for WhiteHat Jr. When the firm was acquired, Byju Raveendran told The Financial Express, that it will help Byju’s accelerate its international expansion. That’s right — Byju’s is eyeing to scoop global opportunities with WhiteHat Jr and all these allegations stand in the way and it may affect the company’s reputation.

So, is WhiteHat Jr trying all these tactics to prevent the spread of the negative image because Byju’s has big plans for the company or are all these just baseless allegations? Only time with an in-depth probe into the company can answer those questions.

Head to moneyguru’s Insight section to stay updated on all major financial news updates of the day!

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