Edtech space continues its sacking spree as FrontRow lays off 30% workforce
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Venture capital backed learning platform for non-academic skills FrontRow has become the latest startup to lay off employees.

FrontRow, which is operated by Splashstar Technologies Pvt Ltd, has laid off around 30% of its workforce primarily in sales, said Ishaan Preet Singh, co-founder, FrontRow, in response to an email to VCCircle.

"As we’ve scaled our business over the last year, we have invested heavily in growth, particularly as we’ve been creating a new category. Recently, given the market conditions we’ve prioritized increasing efficiencies across the business both through higher automation and focusing on profitable channels," he added.

He explained that the layoffs were done to ensure that the startup has over 24 months of runway to keep iterating and improving on its core business.

At least three people in the know said that employees were not given any warnings or information about the state of their employment. Multiple employees have taken to social media to share their grief with FrontRow after being let go without severance packages.

The development was first reported by Inc42.   

FrontRow which is operated by Splashstar Technologies Pvt Ltd, on May 27, let go up to 150 employees out of its 500-member team. Many others also tendered their resignations looking at the layoffs. The employee count has come down to 100, an employee said requesting anonymity.

FrontRow, which was founded in 2020 by Singh, Shubhadit Sharma and Mikhil Raj, focuses on providing non-academic courses, including singing, music composition, cricket, photography, and film-making from top influencers.

It raised $14 million in September last year led by Eight Roads Ventures and GSV and joined by existing investors Lightspeed, Elevation Capital and others. The round also saw investment from artists Vishal Dhadlani and Raftaar; Cred founder Kunal Shah; Unacademy co-founder Gaurav Munjal; and ShareChat co-founder Farid Ahsan.

FrontRow joins multiple startups across sectors that have recently asked employees to go, potentially in a bid to conserve capital in a difficult funding environment. 

Commenting on the layoffs in the startup ecosystem, Gaurav VK Singhvi, co-founder at angel network WeFounder Circle, noted that startups are currently facing pressure from investors to focus more on the profitability aspect.

"(However), these customary trends in the industry occur now and then and are expected to get better with time. If one company is laying off, other ventures are hiring heavily to create a required balance in the job industry," added Singhvi.

A few days ago, digital health platform MFine laid off over 50% of its staff due to a lack of funds to pay salaries. Earlier this month, used cars platform Cars24 asked 600 employees to leave and edtech startup Vedantu laid off 424 employees.

In March and April, Unacademy, operated by Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt. Ltd, laid off nearly 800 employees.

Earlier this year, another edtech startup Lido Learning asked 1,200 of its employees to resign, saying that it was looking to wind down its operations amid a funding crunch.

Social commerce startup Meesho laid off 150 employees last month. In February, OkCredit, which is backed by marquee investors including Tiger Global and Lightspeed, laid off around 40 employees.

Notably, most of the startups that have laid off employees had raised significant funding last year. Cars24 raised $300 million in equity and an additional $100 million in December 2021, at a valuation of around $3.3 billion. Vedantu became the fifth digital learning startup in India to hit unicorn status after raising $100 million (Rs 740 crore) in its Series E round led by Singapore-based impact investor ABC World Asia in September last year.  A unicorn is a privately-held startup with a valuation of at least $1 billion.

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