Indian upskilling platform Skill-Lync cuts 20% jobs to ‘streamline operations’

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Skill-Lync, an Indian startup offering upskilling programs, has laid off 20% of its workforce — around 225 employees — to reduce operational costs amid the ongoing global funding crunch for startups.

The five-year-old Chennai-based company, which has its headquarters in Palo Alto, started its most recent job cutting drive on June 27, TechCrunch learned, but they do not appear to be the first to hit the company this year: Today’s news comes on top of reports that Skill-Lync laid off over 400 employees in late April.

Skill-Lync co-founder Suryanarayanan Paneerselvam confirmed the most recent layoffs today, and told TechCrunch that it was a strategic decision to “streamline operations and limit future content and production investments.” (He has yet to comment on the earlier round of layoffs.)

“This decision was not taken lightly, and we have done our utmost to ensure that the process was as transparent and fair as possible for the employees involved,” he said this week, in response to an email that was originally sent to him last week.

People familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that Skill-Lync delayed the affected employees’ salaries. Paneerselvam denied that claim and said that it was making salary payments. He did not confirm if the affected employees received their last-due salaries. He also did not comment on a question about severance packages.

He did confirm that the layoffs did not impact any C-level positions at Skill-Lync. He added that the startup was on track to achieve operational profitability by Q4 2023.

“We have a solid plan in place and an adequate runway to not only reach this milestone but also to sustain our operations beyond that,” he said.

Following the latest round of layoffs, the startup has a headcount of approximately 900 employees.

Skill-Lync was part of the Winter 2019 cohort at Y Combinator, and it counts Iron Pillar and Better Capital among its investors. It has raised a total of $20 million across seed and Series A funding rounds, with $17.5 million of that coming from a Series A in 2021.

In November, Skill-Lync acquired edtech startup Crio, which was funded by former Flipkart executives including co-founder Binny Bansal. That acquisition also brought the staff and additional cost burdens that Skill-Lync had to digest.

Startups in the Indian technology ecosystem are facing significant challenges raising money right now due to a slowdown in the funding market. At the same time, Skill-Lync has been dealing with market issues specific to its sector. Online training and education platforms saw a huge surge of usage during the pandemic when many were rethinking their careers, looking for training and spending more time doing that online rather than in person. Now, with many returning to their pre-pandemic conventions, some of that demand has tailed off with the return of offline and hybrid classes.

Skill-Lync is just one of many startups going through these difficulties. Other edtech startups, including Byju’s and Unacademy, have also cut jobs to streamline operations and reduce their costs. A top Byju’s shareholder last month cut the value of its stake, leading to an implied 76% decline in Byju’s overall valuation.

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