A PhysicsWallah teacher alleged in a video that the three ex-PW teachers – Tarun Kumar, Manish Dubey, and Sarvesh Dixit – were offered INR 5 Cr each to join Adda247
In two follow-up videos, on March 23 and 24, the three teachers refuted the allegations, stating that they had notified PhysicsWallah management before leaving the organisation
The controversy at PhysicsWallah has come at a time when it is in talks with investors to raise up to $250 Mn at a valuation of $3.3 Bn
PhysicsWallah’s rise over the past nine months has been nothing short of meteoric. Founded in 2020 by competitive prep YouTube star Alakh Pandey and Prateek Maheshwari, the edtech startup raised $100 Mn in its first-ever institutional round last June, becoming India’s 101st unicorn.
However, it has also been at the centre of at least three controversies, involving its teachers, management, and now, the startup itself.
On March 23, a PhysicsWallah teacher, Pankaj Sijairya, alleged in a video that the three ex-PW teachers – Tarun Kumar, Manish Dubey, and Sarvesh Dixit – were offered INR 5 Cr each to resign from PhysicsWallah and join Adda247.
The video, which has since garnered 1.3 Mn views, saw Sijairya allege the three teachers were trying to destroy what they had spent years building.
In two follow-up videos, on March 23 and 24, the three teachers refuted the allegations, stating that they had notified PhysicsWallah management a month before leaving the organisation. The videos, which were quite dramatic, have since received more than 3.4 Mn views and nearly 35,000 comments combined.
So, amid allegations from both sides, what exactly is happening At PhysicsWallah?
Kumar, Dubey and Dixit decided to bid adieu to PhysicsWallah and start their own coaching channel on YouTube, ‘Sankalp’, on March 3, 2023. Since then, the channel has gained 343K subscribers and 10 Mn views across just 12 videos.
The first video was uploaded to this channel on March 21, with Kumar talking about why he quit PhysicsWallah. In the video, he alleged that there was little support for him within PhysicsWallah.
Following Kumar’s video, Sijairya uploaded a counter video and alleged that Adda247 poached the three teachers by paying them INR 5 Cr each. Sijairya further alleged that many other edtech startups were trying to poach teachers from the unicorn.
In response to the allegation levelled by Sijairya, Kumar, Dubey and Dixit said that PhysicsWallah was trying to retain students by accusing them of taking the offer.
Dubey further claimed that he told Prateek Maheshwari, one of the cofounders of PhysicsWallah, that he would be quitting by January 11, 2023.
The three teachers, in a video dated March 23, claimed that they had resigned together to set up ‘Sankalp’ on YouTube.
On Sunday (March 26), the channel posted a video claiming that two more teachers, Aditya Anand and Siddhartha Mishra, would also be joining and coaching NEET and JEE aspirants. While Anand teaches physics, Mishra is a mathematics teacher.
Interestingly, however, in the March 23 video, the three teachers said they were in talks with “some edtech companies” to help them with the technical aspects of setting up their operations.
Be that as it may, both PhysicsWallah and Adda247 are being tight-lipped about the entire episode.
When asked about Sijairya’s allegations, PW did not respond. Adda247, too, is yet to respond to the poaching allegations.
However, sharing a comment with Inc42, a PhysicsWallah spokesperson said, “In any organisation, individuals join and leave in due course, and PW is not immune to this natural progression. Some teachers have indeed left our organisation, and we value and respect their contributions to education and our growth journey.”
Increasing Friction At PhysicsWallah
Last August, Siddhartha Mishra, who is now said to have joined Sankalp, was criticised on social media for his alleged homophobic comments after a BTS fan spammed his chat section during an online class.
Following the backlash, Mishra posted an apology video on Instagram on August 15 last year.
Last month, PhysicsWallah fired a manager of one of its coaching centres in Kota after a video of a scuffle between a student and management went viral on social media.
Unlike other edtech giants, PW’s controversies largely revolve around its culture and people. The latest controversy has come at a time when PhysicsWallah is in early talks to raise up to $250 Mn at a valuation of $3.3 Bn.
The edtech, which is India’s only profitable edtech unicorn, notched up a net profit of INR 97.8 Cr in FY22.
Parts of the development were first reported by The Ken.