My tweet on WhitehatJr goes viral - eNidhi India Travel Blog

My tweet on WhitehatJr goes viral

For the first time, one of my tweets went viral. Thousands of people got to see it as it was shared on linkedin, whatsapp groups, instagram, fb groups and so on. This post explains the phenomenon and some thoughts around the same.

What went viral?

It was a tweet about WhiteHatJr, an edutech start up company. I tweeted that instead of paying their fees in cash I will offer stock option of the company my kid will open.

Refer image below. To understand more, you need some background information.

Context:
WhiteHatJr is a very new startup company in Edutech (Education Technology) space. They offer online coding classes for young kids and claim by learning coding from them, kids may earn big salaries like 150 crores from companies like Google by the age 9 to 13. You might have seen their advertisement during IPL match where a kid develops some apps and several businessmen fight in front of the house trying to buy the app the kid has built.

WhiteHatJr was recently acquired by BYJU, another high value Edutech startup, for USD 300 million.  With covid closing physical schools, online teaching has great potentials and both these startups are putting all possible efforts to maximize their income by massive media campaign designed to convince parents to pay for these online courses hoping that will secure their kid's future.

What is Wrong with WhiteHatJr?
Several companies do tricky and unfair marketing. Deo companies advertise you can get sexy girlfriends just because of their perfume. Fairness creams show girls will get great jobs just by becoming white and so on. Marketing is almost always about trying to trick prospective customer into buying your product or services. There are colleges offering 2 year course teaching people how to do it. MBA Marketing). If all brands were to be 100% honest in what they do or offer, most people from marketing team would have been jobless, so is media who get ad revenue from brands. So it is common brands try to glorify things and promise moon. Thankfully consumer awareness is also increasing. A decade or two earlier there was no effective social media to counter a faulty ad or misleading information. Today people react immediately and express their opinion if they feel something is wrong. So brands need to be careful on what they put out. Tanishq is a recent example.

W.r.t WhiteHatJr, there is nothing wrong trying to sell computer courses to kids. But the brand drew criticism for following reasons/actions
- Promising never heard of results for kids learning coding (9-13 year old kids getting 150 crore from Google, while Google pays only 15 crores to its CEO)
- Using its financial and PR muscle to suppress anyone who is raising a concern- like trying to ask who is Wolf Gupta, who earns 150 crores from Google (Check updates by Pradeep Poonia)
- Advertising to hire teachers who are not required to have coding knowledge, to teach coding
- Undermining reality that coding is more about critical thinking, problem solving and innovation, not just learning how to use an algorithm or set of tools to make an app. It takes fair bit of maturity before someone can become a reasonably respected and successful coder.
- Aggressive marketing without any materialistic exhibits or evidence to back their claims.

It was at this juncture I put a casual tweet in reply to another tweet on the topic. [Tweet Link] At that time I had no idea it will go viral. But internet god had different plans.
  • Anik Chikkara shared it on linkedin, post has got 10500 views and 350 comments so far
  • On twitter post got 350 likes, 20 quoted tweets and 74 retweets
  • Used in many memes
  • Many people liked the tweet, took screenshot of it and shared in FB and whatsapp groups. As these groups are private I don't have a count. But few of my friends alerted me when they saw this tweet being shared in groups they were member of.
My linked in profile had 1 lakh% + increase in profile views after the tweet was shared.



Is it bad? Am I making fun of a start up? Is it unfair from my side to tweet like this?
I feel NO. I think it is a value proposition to the Edutech startup that is promising moons. Consider this

Let us say they believe at least one out of 100 kids who sign up will end up earning 150 crore salary that was advertised. If kid/parents promise to pay one third of that salary, it is 50 crores.
Assuming they charge about 50k per child, charging a nominal fee only earns them 50 lakh (50000 INR * 100 people). This is much lower than 50 crores. So if they believe in what they are advertising, why not accept equity option or a share from kids future earning, instead of a small fee.

Decades ago Arindham Choudary did something similar- promised moon, charged lakhs, gave free laptop and claimed his IIPM is better than IIMs. A person who raised questions in a blogpost was made to lose his job. Today we know where IIPM and Arindham Choudary stand.

The response:
Large number of people who have seen the tweet have responded positively that it is a great idea and right way to handle exotic claims of the companies. A few people- employees of the affected company and people in sales and marketing, mostly in Edutech sector, have raised comments that it is a bad way to respond, stating would you do the same when schools as for school fee. (if school also promises moon and demands huge sum, why not try to validate it). I have voluntarily informed this to a PR team who had contacted me for a sponsored post in Edutech- I think I have lost that opportunity as brands don't like anyone questioning or criticizing them.

However there's not been any official response from the brand so far. May be they will try to get the tweet deleted but that won't help as 100s of people have taken screenshot and are sharing the same. Best would be to give an official response that company is now open to accept equity/salary share instead of initial payment.

What next?
I don't have any plans around this. I just happened. I am moving on with my life. Hopefully company corrects its strategy to operate more ethically and realistically.

What are your thoughts on this? Do share.

Related: Club Mahindra legal notice

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