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Byju’s, the edtech business, has become a poor advertisement for India’s once booming start-up sector. That comprises over 80,000 registered entities, of which at least 70 per cent will eventually fail, while at the other end some 100 have achieved unicorn status with valuations in excess of a billion dollars. Of these, Byju’s is the biggest, splashiest, most consistently controversial, and now on a roller-coaster that could see it crash, or magically survive. The odds on the second outcome have lengthened significantly in recent weeks and months.
What used to attract attention earlier — apart from its stratospheric valuations, which peaked at over $22 billion (not much lower than Tata Motors!) — were its hyper-aggressive sales methods, its toxic work culture,