Edtech startup Byju's on Friday announced football star and global sports icon Lionel Messi as the first global brand ambassador of its social impact arm, Education For All.

The development comes days after India's most valued startup said it will lay off 2,500 employees—around 5% of its 50,000-strong workforce—as it plans on becoming profitable by March 2023.

Messi, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain and captains the Argentinian football team, has signed an agreement with Byju's to promote the cause of equitable education.

"The long-term engagement, which begins as Lionel Messi embarks on his final campaign to win the FIFA World Cup 2022 as captain of Argentina's national football team, will see him feature in campaigns promoting Byju's Education For All," the edtech company says.

Byju's, the official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, has blamed adverse macroeconomic conditions for job cuts.

In a letter to employees earlier this week, Byju's co-founder Byju Raveendran said the company will embark on a sustainable and capital-efficient growth path. "I realise that there is a huge price to pay for walking on this path to profitability. We are having to part ways with 2,500 of our colleagues to avoid role duplication across our businesses," he said.

"Our rapid organic and inorganic growth has created some inefficiencies, redundancies and duplication within our organization, that we need to rationalize to realize this," Raveendran added.

Over the last three years, Byju's has acquired multiple companies. Byju's India K-10 business, which includes Toppr, Meritnation, TutorVista, Scholar, and HashLearn, will now be consolidated as one business unit, other than Aakash and Great Learning, which will continue to function as separate organisations.

Despite the ongoing layoffs, the edtech company last month said it will continue to hire across all levels and will end this financial year as a net hirer. Byju's plans to hire 10,000 teachers in the coming year, adding to its current strength of 20,000 teachers. To fuel its growth, the company is expanding its teams along with hiring senior leadership to further build operational strength.

The decacorn is retargeting its marketing budget towards more efficient growth. Since significant brand awareness has been created in India over the past few years, there is a scope to optimise marketing budgets locally and prioritise spending to increase brand awareness in overseas markets, it said.

Byju's is also reinventing its sales model to focus more on inside sales, using video calling platforms, which in turn will reduce operational costs. "Multiple inside sales hubs will now be created across India from where Byju's sales associates will reach out to incoming leads through calls, email, and Zoom meetings. Inside sales will lead to higher customer satisfaction and lower costs," the company said.

The company had said that these steps are meant to prepare the path towards "a stellar listing".

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