After about 2.5 years of founding WhiteHat Jr, and one year since the online coding tutoring company’s acquisition, founder and CEO Karan Bajaj has called it quits.
Bajaj, in his announcement on LinkedIn, passed the reins to colleague Trupti Mukker, who is a classmate of his IIM Bangalore, and a former senior executive at companies such as Wipro and Genpact.
Labelling the startup years of WhiteHat Jr as “stretching, challenging, intense but ultimately satisfying,” Bajaj said he will now try to carve out a career in public service, post a “small” sabbatical.
He also suggested authoring a book, now that he has gathered enough stories in life so far.
“As I move on to new paths, my deep gratitude to the 17,000+ employees and teachers who weren’t a part of my life just two years ago… Also to Byju, who I’ve grown to respect deeply as a great educator with a boundary-less vision of the world, who’ll change the nature of education to active, creative learning the world over,” Bajaj said.
Bajaj added that he has known and admired Mukker for two decades and that her competent, compassionate leadership will enable thousands of women to enter the mainstream workforce as WhiteHat Jr/BYJU’S FutureSchool expands into new countries and courses.
Around August of 2018, Bajaj was at the helm of American broadcaster Discovery Inc’s South Asia operations. That is when he came up with the idea of teaching kids to code online.
By November same year, Bajaj served out his notice period, and Nexus Venture Partners committed to leading a $1.3 million seed investment round in Whitehat Education Technology.
The Mumbai-based startup, incorporated in October 2018, was then valued at $6 million. Soon after the investment, Bajaj and a team of seven started to build Whitehat Jr, a platform that aimed to teach children aged between 6 and 14 the fundamentals of coding.
In August 2020, the contrarian bet paid off handsomely for Nexus when Bengaluru headquartered online learning platform Byju’s acquired Whitehat Jr in a $300 million all cash deal. Byju’s had then announced that Bajaj will continue to head this business in India and the US.
Soon after, an ugly social media spat followed. WhiteHat Jr filed a Rs 20 crore defamation lawsuit against Pradeep Poonia, an Cisco engineer who publicly criticised the edtech startup’s marketing tactics. As of May, the lawsuit stands withdrawn, however.