PhysicsWallah’s meteoric rise over the last nine months has been nothing short of spectacular. The edtech startup, founded in 2020 by competitive prep YouTube star Alakh Pandey and Prateek Maheshwari, raised $100 million in its first-ever institutional round last June, becoming India’s 101st unicorn.
It has, however, been at the centre of at least three controversies involving its teachers, management, and, most recently, the startup itself.
Pankaj Sijairya, a PhysicsWallah teacher, claimed in a video on March 23 that the three ex-PW teachers – Tarun Kumar, Manish Dubey, and Sarvesh Dixit – were each offered INR 5 Cr to resign from PhysicsWallah and join Adda247.
Sijairya claimed in the video, which has since received 1.3 million views, that the three teachers were attempting to destroy what they had spent years building.
On March 23 and 24, the three teachers refuted the allegations in two follow-up videos, claiming that they had notified PhysicsWallah management a month before leaving the organisation. The videos, which were quite dramatic, have received over 3.4 million views and nearly 35,000 comments.
So, what exactly is going on at PhysicsWallah in the midst of allegations from both sides?
On March 3, 2023, Kumar, Dubey, and Dixit decided to leave PhysicsWallah and launch their own coaching channel, ‘Sankalp,’ on YouTube. In just 12 videos, the channel has gained 343K subscribers and 10 million views.
On March 21, Kumar posted the first video to this channel, explaining why he left PhysicsWallah. He claimed in the video that there was little support for him within PhysicsWallah.
Following Kumar’s video, Sijairya posted a counter video in which he claimed that Adda247 had poached the three teachers for INR 5 Cr each. Sijairya also claimed that many other edtech startups were attempting to recruit teachers from the unicorn.
In response to Sijairya’s allegation, Kumar, Dubey, and Dixit stated that PhysicsWallah was attempting to retain students by accusing them of accepting the offer.
Dubey also claimed that he informed Prateek Maheshwari, one of PhysicsWallah’s cofounders, that he would be leaving by January 11, 2023.
In a March 23 video, the three teachers claimed that they had resigned together in order to launch ‘Sankalp’ on YouTube.
The channel posted a video on Sunday (March 26) claiming that two more teachers, Aditya Anand and Siddhartha Mishra, would be joining and coaching NEET and JEE aspirants. Mishra teaches mathematics while Anand teaches physics.
However, in the March 23 video, the three teachers stated that they were in talks with “some edtech companies” to assist them with the technical aspects of establishing their operations.
Regardless, both PhysicsWallah and Adda247 are keeping quiet about the entire incident. PW did not respond when asked about Sijairya’s allegations. Adda247 has yet to respond to the allegations of poaching.