WhiteHat Jr. Scam

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The Covid-19 pandemic induced mass closure of education institutions started a golden era for ed-tech startups worldwide by forcing students to learn from home. With venture capitalists eager to bet their money on the sector, ed-tech startups are undeniably on a roll.

As WhiteHat Jr was acquired by Byju’s for $300 million, the ed-tech startup became part of the multi-billion dollar online education empire. WhiteHat Jr, which provides coding classes to kids, has invited the fury of parents and tech experts in the recent times because of their strategy. Especially around marketing tactics & policy against criticism on social media platforms.

Several industry professionals also seem annoyed by the company’s poor tolerance for negative feedback and have strongly voiced their criticism on social media platforms.

For instance, Pradeep Poonia, a software engineer with Cisco, says his social media account was repeatedly suspended when he tried to post feedback about WhiteHatJr. “WhiteHat Jr and Byju’s are misusing their position, for more than a month I have been trying to post about WhiteHatJr. On whichever platform I go to, either my accounts get suspended or my posts get deleted” he wrote in his LinkedIn blog.

According to Poonia, his two Reddit accounts have been permanently suspended, besides one Twitter account & two YouTube accounts are temporarily suspended. Poonia says in his blog, “WhiteHat Jr isn’t letting me post any review about their platform. I started with a video titled ‘Who is Wolf Gupta?’. This particular video has been removed 3 times by now. @WhiteHatJr Why? We all know this kid is fictitious, does not exist. His age keeps on changing between 9-14 y/o. And his salary between 1.2 crores, 20 crores, and 150 crores. To some of you, it might be a normal marketing gimmick but most people would agree that this is not acceptable when target consumers are 6-year-old kids! Such ‘White’ lies are not allowed.”

They can’t seem to decide the yearly salary and the age of imaginary kid named “Wolf Gupta”

Their marketing adverts use fancy buzzwords like space tech, machine learning, deep learning, regression and driverless cars just to make it look like they are teaching very advanced things to kids. Trust me, it is all a gigantic scam. They are running this business not to keep the kids ready for the future but they want to pocket all the millions of dollars that come in revenue from aggressively selling their products. They have developed a very unique marketing strategy that allows them to fool lakhs of parents into thinking that their kid is in the top 20% of the people who took the trial class and sends the parents a certificate of accomplishment for completing a training class on WhiteHat Jr.

The reality is that the certification has zero value. Your kid is not going to become the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk by just learning how to program pre-built apps in templates borrowed from code.org. And the certifications/business cards or the top 20% e-mails are just done to make you and your kid feel special and they are manipulating with your mind in this way to compel you to spend your hard money in order to teach your kid programming thinking that he/she will become the next Sundar Pichai.

This ad is basically saying “If you kid doesn’t start coding at the age of 7 years. He’ll never be Bill Gates”

They try to use examples of people who have made it big in the tech industry to fool you into thinking that your child can become a multi-billionaire just by learning how to code. Then how are there so many unemployed computer science engineers in India? A mere coder cannot make even a million, unless he/she is a literal genius. It is the hard reality.

The mode of teaching also isn’t very special either. They claim that they have online 1:1 coding classes with an interactive experience. Trust me, they don’t. There are so many honest reviews that are removed and replaced with copy-paste fake reviews on Google play store & Apple app store. They teach coding from a pre-written script but still tell tall tales of IIT alumni creating their syllabus.

Even their syllabus and the tools they use to teach are not original. Let me tell you the truth: Code.org is an open, free of cost & easily downloadable application created by a team based in USA. Their free platform has been “borrowed” by WHJ. There are many such FREE platforms to learn how to code. Like Khan Academy, Code Academy etc. Full article here.

You were impressed when Shikhar Dhawan came on screen saying that his son codes on WhiteHat Jr. Think again. WhiteHat Jr. is one of those few ed-tech companies in the Indian startup ecosystem that has a ton of institutional funding from prominent VC firms (well into the tens of millions of dollars) so they can afford to advertise a lot and burn cash for marketing their product and it wouldn’t make a dent in the company’s cash.

The actors/celebrities and sportspersons are paid in the lakhs, if not crores to proudly (and fakely) say that their kid is a champion because he/she learnt coding on WhiteHat Jr. And in today’s modern age of capitalism, who wouldn’t want to do something as long as they get money, right? Don’t fall prey to these misleading advertisements.

They have marketed themselves very cunningly and skillfully. They have made it look like your child is missing out on visiting Silicon Valley or that your kid will not be able to work for NASA if he/she does not take the coding classes. That inherent feeling of peer pressure would eventually make the parents spend their own hard earned money due to the fear of missing out (FOMO). They are manipulating your thought process in hopes of selling the course to make a hefty profit.

They say that they recruit only top 0.01% of teachers right? No chance. There was a viral video that showed how the teacher called cloud storage “open space in the sky where data is stored” and another one showing how the teacher had no idea if she was working in Java or in JavaScript. On being asked what the difference was between the two, she claimed that the former was the language and the latter was the code and that the “pages you see” are JavaScript. This is the 0.01% quality of education being taught to little, gullible children. They have an exploitative mindset and they want to loot poor, innocent people in the pandemic and are taking advantage of the already prevailing stress and caution.

Their teachers are just puppets they use to deliver the pre-written script of the class. They’re not from software field nor do they have any coding experience.

They claim they will teach advanced applied tech and space tech to 10th graders. So are the real rocket scientists at NASA fools? They have devoted their life to rocket science or whatever research they do, and these people compress all of that into 144 classes? Excellent. So believable.

Now is the time to make your child enjoy their childhood, not force him/her to code. Please DO NOT pressurize your kid to do anything. Let them develop physically and do well academically before learning such complex computing concepts like Machine Learning, AI or even things like driverless cars.

Your 7 year old doesn’t need coding lessons to succeed in life. No investor will be fighting at your doorstep to buy his/her app. They need to go out play a real sport with their real friends & not with bots on a mobile phone.

This blog can be translated into Hindi or other Indian languages by using the Google Translate option

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