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MUMBAI : Manish Maheshwari stepped down as chief executive officer and director of Invact Metaversity on Friday, a day after an angel investor let out a barrage of criticism about him against the backdrop of escalating differences at the fledgling edtech firm.

Maheshwari, who led Twitter in India for nearly three years, co-founded Invact Metaversity with Microsoft alumnus Tanay Pratap late last year.

“Over the last few days, we have been in the news, more than we have ever been! So, here is the official update. Manish Maheshwari has stepped down from his position as chief executive officer and director of Invact Inc. as of 27 May 2022," the company announced on Twitter.

“The decision to part ways was not an easy one, but ultimately, @manishm and @tanaypratap had diverging visions for the company’s long-term prospects. Invact will continue and under the leadership of Tanay (Pratap) will pursue its vision to make quality education accessible via Metaversity," the statement added.

In response, Maheshwari tweeted, “We both are passionate and uncompromising about what we believe in, as founders usually are. While we are parting ways, we have fond memories of working together not just as colleagues, but also as brothers."

On Thursday, Gergely Orosz, one of Invact’s angel investors, had issued a series of posts critical of Maheshwari.

“Yes, we tried to resolve it in private. It looked like it worked. Until investors got lied to, agreements walked back on," he said.

Orosz alleged that Maheshwari had earlier said he would leave the startup but has gone back on his word.

“If I invest in a company, and a co-founder unethically holds that company hostage, looking at their sole selfish interest: I will do what is best for the employees, the customers and the investors. If the only way to do this is in public: I do it in public @manishm."

In an email to the company’s investors, Orosz also said that Maheshwari wants “more equity than vested".

The founders of Invact Metaversity, which began operations in October, have had festering differences over the vision and execution. The issues were brought before their investors last month.

The rift comes to light just months after prominent names like Future Group’s Kishore Biyani invested in the edtech firm.

Earlier this week, Maheshwari tweeted that the startup is exploring possibilities to pivot or return the unspent capital to investors. He also said it may consider letting one of the founders take full charge. The tweet came after the startup’s first batch of MBA course—which was to begin on 12 May with a cohort of 60 students—got cancelled.

Invact Metaversity, operated by Invact School Pvt. Ltd, had raised an undisclosed amount at a valuation of $33 million (around $256 crore) from Future Group’s Biyani, T.V. Mohandas Pai of Manipal Global Education, and former Facebook India head Kirthiga Reddy and others, in February. The same month, it also raised a seed capital of $5 million (around 37 crore) from global venture capital firms, including Arkam Ventures, Antler India, Picus Capital, M Venture Partners, BECO Capital and 2am VC.

Maheshwari recently expressed the intent to return unspent capital being considered to set an example of how to execute fast, learn fast and not commit oneself to building an undifferentiated product just because one has capital.

As the rifts deepened, Invact also looked for potential buyers and explored placement/acqui-hires of employees, as per an email sent by co-founder Pratap to investors. However, the sale process was abandoned on 18 May over differences of valuation.

With the exit of Maheshwari, the startup will now operate under Pratap.

Pratap tweeted, “Changes are often heartbreaking but sometimes necessary. We started together, built together, and celebrated together. Invact will continue to build on its vision of accessible quality education for all. Wishing Manish all the best for the future. Goodbyes are always hard."

“Manish will focus on new endeavors. The company places on record Manish’s tremendous contributions to Invact’s business since its incorporation and expresses its gratitude. The Company and Manish wish each other the best of luck for the future," the company said.

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