Allen acquires edtech Doubtnut in fire sale; Spotify’s third round of layoffs in 2023

Allen Career Institute has bought artificial intelligence-enabled problem-solving platform Doubtnut in a slump sale. This and more in today’s ETtech Top 5.

Also in this letter:
■ Ecommerce channels’ growth during Diwali season
■ Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal on India’s Web3 development
■ Infographic Insight

Allen Career Institute buys problem-solving platform Doubtnut in slump sale


Offline coaching company Allen Career Institute said it has acquired artificial intelligence-enabled problem-solving platform Doubtnut for an undisclosed amount. Allen said the acquisition will help the tutoring institute build on its technology-led learning solutions.

Deal details: Sources told ET the deal estimates the value of Doubtnut, which has raised total funding of about $52 million from investors such as WaterBridge and Peak XV Partners, in the low-single-digit millions. Suitors for the slump sale had looked into Doubtnut for its traffic alone as it failed to scale after a point, one of the persons who evaluated the company told ET.

Tell me more: Doubtnut’s team will continue to develop the problem resolution platform for students of Allen Career Institute and Doubtnut, a statement from Kota-based Allen added.

According to the statement, Doubtnut reaches 32 million students across digital apps, websites and YouTube. Allen will offer its curriculum and academic offerings to Doubtnut’s student base.

Expansion ahead: In May 2023, Allen Career Institute had appointed former Meta executive Abha Maheshwari as chief executive of its edtech arm, Allen Digital. Maheshwari was tasked with building and leading the tutoring institute’s digital and technology teams in Bengaluru and helping to create digital-first products for students.

The institute also roped in Ankit Khurana as chief product officer and Saurabh Tandon as chief technology officer last year to strengthen its edtech business.

Music streamer Spotify to lay off 17% of workforce

Spotify logo

In its third round of layoffs in 2023, music streaming giant Spotify will be laying off 17% of its workforce or about 1,500 people, chief executive Daniel Ek said in a note on organisational changes on Monday. Ek said a reduction of this size would feel surprisingly large to many, given the company’s recent positive earnings report.

CEOspeak: “We debated making smaller reductions throughout 2024 and 2025. Yet, considering the gap between our financial goal state and our current operational costs, I decided that a substantial action to rightsize our costs was the best option to accomplish our objectives,” Ek said in the note.

Big cost structure: The CEO said that in 2020 and 2021, Spotify “took advantage of the opportunity presented by lower-cost capital and invested significantly in team expansion, content enhancement, marketing and new verticals.”

“However, we find ourselves in a different environment as economic growth has slowed and capital has become more expensive. Despite our efforts to reduce costs this past year, our cost structure for where we need to be is still too big,” he added.

Yes, but: The announcement comes on the heels of a rare quarterly net profit of €65 million in October, compared to a loss of €166 million for the same period a year earlier, following a 26% growth in active users for the third quarter to 574 million.

Previous layoffs: In January, the company said it would sack about 600 employees, or 6% of staff. A further 200 jobs were cut in June.

Ecomm channels see 25% growth in purchase volumes during Diwali: report

Ecommerce Diwali

Ecommerce channels in India recorded 25% year-on-year (YoY) growth in purchase volumes this Diwali season, suggests data from digital payments firm Visa. In addition, credit card spendings rose as well.

Data decoded: Credit card spending rose 18% YoY during Diwali, pointing to the growing usage of credit cards during the festive season and lesser reliance on debit cards as a medium of transaction. Meanwhile, face-to-face commerce grew 12% from the year-ago period.

Categories in demand: Among ecommerce transactions, apparel and accessories, and discount store merchandise were the most prominent categories. Jewellery stores, electronic stores, and grocery stores/supermarkets emerged as the top categories for face-to-face or in-store commerce/purchases.

Quick catch-up: ET reported on November 13 that the festive season sale this year brought a much-needed boost in online shopping after a muted start in the first half.

According to data from Unicommerce, which helps businesses sell online, order volumes for ecommerce grew about 37% during the festive season sale this year, compared to 2022.

Want India to lead protocol development in Web3, says Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal

Sandeep Nailwal

Polygon cofounder Sandeep Nailwal during the Build for Web3 Summit in Bengaluru

Ethereum scaling platform Polygon cofounder Sandeep Nailwal wants Indian developers in the Web3 space “to be at the forefront of protocol development”.

Word for word: “If we want to attract the best and brightest of Indian talent into Web3, we need to improve education on a protocol level,” he said, speaking at the Build for Web3 Summit in Bengaluru on Monday.

Return of Polygon Village: Nailwal also said Polygon will zero in on protocol developers as part of its recently announced grant that seeks to attract Web3 startups to its ecosystem, where it previously primarily focused on Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) developers.

Polygon Labs announced the new edition of its grant Polygon Village in November, which seeks to attract developers to build applications in its ecosystem.

Jargon buster: The EVM lets developers deploy decentralised applications on Ethereum, a popular Blockchain technology, while protocols are the underlying rules, guidelines, and algorithms that define and control the functioning of a blockchain network.

Catch up quick: In February this year, Polygon had laid off 20% of its team, impacting 100 employees, ET had reported. Nailwal had announced in a blog post that the layoffs were part of a restructuring of the layer-2 blockchain company.

Infographic Insight: The serious profession of digital gaming

online gaming

Digital gaming is not only a phenomenon or culture in India. It is fast emerging as a serious profession with several institutions and organisations offering professional courses in areas such as game design and development, AR/VR technologies and esports management etc.

Income from gaming on the rise

Gaming PC and console maker HP surveyed 3,000 gamers across 15 cities in India to present a snapshot of players incomes, career preferences among parents and children.

Parents’ changing perception

Today’s ETtech Top 5 newsletter was curated by Vaibhavi Khanwalkar in Bengaluru and Gaurab Dasgupta in New Delhi.

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