Karan Bajaj, founder of online coding classes startup WhiteHat Jr, owned by ed-tech company BYJUs, has filed a Rs 20 crore lawsuit against Pradeep Poonia, an engineer who publicly slammed the company for its marketing tactics. Bajaj has accused Poonia of "infringing trademarks and copyright of properties owned by WhiteHat Jr, defaming and spreading misleading information about the startup and its founder, and accessing the company's private communications app". Meanwhile, the hearing for the suit has begun in the Delhi High Court.
This comes after Poonia, through YouTube videos and on Twitter, alleged that the WhiteHat Jr team discussed all social media posts criticising the company in an internal chat and that they targeted these individuals through their personal accounts or using fake IDs. He posted screenshots allegedly of the companyâ€™s slack account as proof of the same.
2. #WhiteHatJr entire ORM team jumps on the tweets of the already frustrated and suicidal girl & starts reporting it from their personal accounts as well & within hours by 4am puts a temp restriction on her tweetsâ€” Pradeep Poonia (@whiteHatSnr) November 13, 2020
For reference, Nikhil Mittal is Marketing VP of #WhiteHatJrScam pic.twitter.com/0JDgO7hV5z
The lawsuit claimed that Poonia recorded sessions of some WhiteHat Jr classes and asked questions that were not relevant to the course to "humiliate and harass" the teachers and then posted them online.
The lawsuit also accuses "Poonia of publicly sharing phone numbers of WhiteHat Jr employees and making strong accusations such as likening the startup's marketing tactics to "child sexual abuse." However, Poonia has posted yet another tweet and posted a screenshot of another chat, allegedly between Whitehat Jr staff.
Why #WhiteHatJr did this desperate lawsuit to silence me? They don't want me to show you THIS.â€” Pradeep Poonia (@whiteHatSnr) November 22, 2020
June'19: A WHJ teacher asks may I know about these kids from WHJ ads who became CEO and see their apps?@realkaranbajaj: "Now we will have to create the app :D"#Byjus #WolfGupta
WhiteHat Jr has come under severe criticism in the past for its aggressive marketing tactics and misleading advertisements showing young children as having achieved great heights through coding including claims to these kids bagging jobs with top tech companies with salaries running into crores of rupees.
However, the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI), last month, asked WhiteHat Jr to take down at least five such advertisements as they were in violation of the code for making unsubstantiated claims.
In addition, WhiteHat Jr, along with its parent firm Byjuâ€™s have also been criticised for attempting to silence any dissent or negative feedback against the company and taking down videos and LinkedIn posts by claiming copyright violation.
Byju's in August acquired Mumbai-based WhiteHat Jr in an all-cash deal worth $300 million (roughly Rs 2,246 crore). Bajaj, WhiteHat Jr Founder and former Discovery Networks India CEO continues to lead and scale the business in India and the US.
WhiteHat Jr had recently announced their plans to expand to other global markets like Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand after a stellar growth in the US for its one-to-one online coding classes. After launching their courses in the US in February, the company claims to be growing at more than 100 per cent (month-on-month) in the country.
Founded in November 2018, WhiteHat Jr helps kids aged 6 to 14 years build commercial-ready games, animations and apps online using the fundamentals of coding.
With IANS inputs