Byju’s stops Shah Rukh Khan ad amid Aryan Khan drugs probe
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Online tutoring company Byju’s has stopped all advertisements featuring its brand ambassador and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan amid the ongoing investigation against his son Aryan Khan in a drugs case. According to a report, Byju’s stopped all ads over the last few days after the company came under fire on social media platforms like Twitter. However, it is not clear if the company has dropped Shah Rukh as its brand ambassador. Aryan Khan and seven others were arrested after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided a Goa-bound cruise ship last week. After the raids conducted by undercover NCB officials, the team seized 13 grams of cocaine, 21 grams of Hashish, 22 pills of MDMA and 5 grams of MD. A local court in Mumbai on Thursday sent Aryan Khan and seven others to judicial custody for 14 days. The bail plea of Aryan Khan, who was arrested on October 3, was denied by the court on Friday. On Saturday, the NCB questioned one of the drivers of Shah Rukh Khan and raided film producer Imtiyaz Khatri in connection with the drugs-on-cruise case. The raids were conducted at Khatri's residence and office in Mumbai's Bandra area, after which he was summoned to appear before the agency at 11am. The NCB again summoned him to appear before it on Monday after questioning him for nearly eight hours. The agency also arrested a drug peddler after questioning him, taking the number of arrests in the case to 19. Byju’s, which is India’s most valuable startup, has been on an acquisition spree and bought higher education platform Great Learning for $600 million, kids’ digital reading platform Epic for $500 million, and test preparation provider Aakash Educational Services for $1 billion in quick succession. Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran said in April that the company will go for an initial public offering in 18-24 months. Byju’s has more than 65 million subscribers and the edtech startup has seen faster growth over the past year. At least 25 million new users signed up to use its platform after the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown was announced last year in March. Byju’s raised $1.5 billion from UBS Group, Abu Dhabi sovereign fund ADQ, Blackstone Group, among others, at a valuation of $16.5 billion in June. Before that, Byju’s raised over $1 billion from investors led by Baron Funds, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group, and US-based investment hedge fund XN Exponent Holding in April. The fundraising valued the company at around $15 billion.