Ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022, Byju’s on Friday announced that it has signed Lionel Messi as the global brand ambassador for its social initiative, Education for All (EFA).
Since its launch in 2020, the EFA programme has positively impacted 5.5 million children across 26 states and over 340 districts by making tech-driven education accessible and equitable, the company said. By 2025, the initiative aims to impact 10 million children.
The Argentinian footballer also runs his own charitable organisation, the Leo Messi Foundation, which was started in 2007 to help children realise their dreams provide by enabling equal opportunities.
“I chose to partner with Byju’s because their mission to make everyone fall in love with learning perfectly aligns with my values. High-quality education changes lives, and BYJU’S has transformed the career paths of millions of students worldwide. I hope to inspire young learners to reach and remain at the top,” Messi said.
Messi’s fame stood at 49%, slightly lower than Cristiano Ronaldo — often understood to be his biggest competitor in the sport — who has a fame of 59%, according to YouGov America, a London-based research data and analytics group.
Messi’s fame was, however, higher among millennials, at 69% as against Ronaldo’s 68% – likely prompting the Bengaluru-based edtech giant to rope in Messi, who is idolised by millions of children globally. YouGov says he is the world’s third most popular contemporary football player after Portugal’s Ronaldo and the American soccer player, Alex Morgan.
The Byju’s deal marks Messi’s second contract in the country. In 2015, the footballer who plays for Paris Saint-Germain – the football club, was roped in as the brand ambassador of Tata Motors, promoting the car manufacturer among the younger segment of buyers.
“No one represents the power of enhancing human potential more than Lionel Messi. It is not really surprising that the greatest player of all time is also the greatest learner of all time. I am sure this partnership will inspire millions of people around the world to dream bigger and learn better. As football fans know, with Messi on your side anything is possible,” Divya Gokulnath, co-founder, Byju’s, said.
Earlier this year, Byju’s also announced it would be sponsoring this year’s FIFA World Cup, scheduled to be held in Qatar, and kicks off on November 20. The deal figures or the type wasn’t immediately known.
The signing comes shortly after Byju’s said it would be “rationalising” and “optimising” its operations, an exercise that will see at least 2,500 jobs being axed, or 5% of its total workforce, to reduce the company’s cash burn and turn profitable by March 2023. That, after it had already sacked at least 800 employees this year alone. Byju’s had reported a 15X increase in losses to `4,588 crore in FY21 against a largely flat top line of `2,428 in FY21 compared with FY20.
Byju Raveendran, chief executive officer and co-founder, Byju’s, had blamed the macroeconomic environment for the cost reduction exercises. In an internal note to employees, he pointed out that the company’s decision to scale down job roles was inevitable since tech companies worldwide are forced to focus on “sustainability and capital-efficient growth” due to unfavourable market conditions, hinting at soaring inflation which has pushed interest rates higher and made it difficult for startups to raise capital.