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FrontRow lays off 145 employees, 30% of its team


Learning and community platform FrontRow has laid off 145 employees, which represents 30% of its total workforce. The company confirmed the development in a statement obtained by Entrackr. FrontRow is a MasterClass-like business where celebrities give courses in their respective fields; such as Varun Grover teaching screenwriting and Raju Srivastav teaching comedy.

“As we’ve scaled our business over the last year, we had invested heavily in growth, particularly as we’ve been creating a new category,” the company’s founder Ishaan Preet Singh said in the statement. He added that the layoffs were done in order to “ensure that we achieve that goal over the next decades and that we have over 24 months of runway to keep iterating and improving on our core business, we had to take a few difficult prioritisation decisions over the past few weeks.” FrontRow competes with other celebrity-led learning platforms like Unlu.

The development was first reported by Inc42.

Singh cited the current market conditions as a reason for the layoffs. Startup incubator Y Combinator had recommended that startup founders get to “Default Alive”, that is, extend their runway to longer than a year, to survive the current market downturn.

Employees reportedly did not receive a severance, and only got their salary for the month of May. Sales, quality control and HR teams were reportedly impacted. Singh said in his statement that the impact was “primarily in sales.”

As Entrackr had exclusively reported last September, FrontRow raised $14 million led by Eight Roads Ventures. Lightspeed, Elevation Capital and a clutch of angels including Ashneer Grover,  Karan Singh, Kunal Shah, Nitin Gupta, David Booth, Maninder Gulati, Ashish Gupta, and Eric Feldman also participated in the Series A round.

According to experts tracking the edtech space, startups in the segment are preparing for a downturn and pausing new initiatives, trimming  their workforce and pulling the plug from loss-making verticals. For example, Unacademy dropped its K-12 ambition as the company didn’t manage to figure out a sustainable model.

While the slowdown in funding activities are impacting startups irrespective of their sector, size, stage and funding, the edtech space is seeing more layoffs as compared to other segments. In the past month, Vedantu had laid off about 625 employees across two tranches including 424 staff early this week.

Unacademy also reduced hundreds of employees whereas Ronnie Screwvala-backed Lido shut down operations due to lack of funds. Meanwhile, over 800 employees of Byju’s-owned WhiteHat Jr were forced to resign from the company after they refused to work from office.

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