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Jan 10, 2020 03:30 am ·

Tencent and Sequoia Pour USD 80 Million into VIPKid's Subsidiary

Cindy Mi, Founder and CEO of the unicorn company announced this week that Dami Online School has raised USD 80 million in a Series A funding. Investors include Tencent, Sequoia Capital China and Hommer Capital, marking the first major domestic financing event of 2020. Having started as an incubated project nearly two years ago, the brand is designed to provide a more cost-effective education by enabling bigger class sizes, with students signing up for online sessions in addition to private instruction. Founded in 2013, VIPKid is a global education technology company that connects children with teachers for online English classes. It has become China’s leading online education startup, attracting investment from investors like Tencent, Coatue Management, Sequoia Capital, Sinovation Ventures, Yunfeng Capital, Matrix Partners, Learn Capital, Northern Light VC and Bryant Stibel. The VIPKid platform currently connects over 700,000 paying students with over 90,000 teachers in the US and Canada. China has taken a lead in online education, with firms using some of the latest technologies – such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality – to improve education quality and efficiency. According to iResearch, the country’s online education market is expected to reach CNY 380.7 billion this year, from CNY 251.7 billion in 2018.  With the evident expected increase in the market size, VIPKid has a lot of competition, with the world’s most valued startup ByteDance’s subsidiary Gogokid bringing English-speaking teachers into virtual classrooms in China. Speaking of the marketing war for the summer class in 2019, Cindy Mi said at the press conference that Dami Online School will never join the marketing war. She said education must return to the original intention which is educating pupils and spending money on teachers, teaching research and product experience.  Lynn Yang, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital China, said: “VIPKid has two major advantages when entering the large class track: firstly, VIPKid has been deeply involved in the industry for six years, has a deep understanding in the field of online education and understands users' online behavior. With these advantages, it can quickly gain user trust and Support. Secondly, it has a strong and professional management team. I believe that, under the leadership of the management team, Dami online school can take the user as the center of the experience, solve their pain points and create a closed-loop of learning that combines quality with test-oriented education, and lead the development of the K12 online education.” Yu Haiyang, managing director of Tencent Investment, expects Dami to be in a strong position to meet increased demand from Chinese parents for online education, according to the statement. Last October VIPKid raised an undisclosed amount for its Series E round of financing, led by Tencent, with China Renaissance (华兴资本) playing the role of financial advisor. VIPKid said that the two sides will continue to deepen cooperation in the fields of Internet education, artificial intelligence, cloud services and public welfare.

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Oct 8, 2019 11:13 am ·

VIPKid Raises Further Financing from Tencent, Despite Reports of Setbacks

The news was published on the official Wechat account of VIPKid on October 8. This round was led by Tencent with China Renaissance (华兴资本) playing the role of financial advisor. VIPKid said that the two sides will continue to deepen cooperation in the fields of Internet education, artificial intelligence, cloud services, and public welfare. According to the company as of August 2019, the number of students on the VIPKid platform exceeded 700,000 and the number of foreign teachers in North America exceeded 90,000. The firm revealed that after obtaining new financing, it will continue to increase investment in quality content, talents and technology, to improve the company's operational efficiency and organizational capabilities, and provide better education products and services for both students and parents. Late in August, Reuters quoted two people familiar with the matter who said Tencent had shelved a plan to invest about USD 150 million in VIPKid. The main reason mentioned was that the relevant government departments had introduced some new regulations for the online education platform the previous month, requiring teachers to hold effective teaching qualifications and the platform to publish some specific information, such as foreign teacher certificates and work experience. The same people also said that VIPKid initially hoped to raise USD 500 million, but had later lowered its target to around USD 150 million. Now that this round is undisclosed there is a chance that the amount might be lower than USD 150 million.  Founded in 2013 VIPKid has caught the eyes of some huge investors, with at least one investment per year. On June 21, 2018, VIPKid completed its Series D+ round of funding worth USD 500 million, led by Coatue, Tencent Holdings, Sequoia Capital China and YF Capital (云锋基金). To date, the children's English teaching firm has raised a total of USD 825.5 million over eight rounds of disclosed funding according to Itjuzi. Cindy Mi, the founder and CEO of the firm believes that online education is becoming a major trend. As a leading enterprise, VIPKid is full of confidence and takes responsibility for the development of the industry and the market.  After thanking Tencent for the investment, Mi said: "With more like-minded partners, we hope that the growth and development of each student will be taken seriously by VIPKid to make them an international talent with a Chinese spirit and a global vision." Dowson Tong (汤道生) president of Tencent Cloud and Smart Industry Group, said: "Technology is the vision and mission of Tencent for the future, and education technology is one of the best sectors. We have seen that VIPKid is continuously working hard in order to improve its products, services and management. We are willing to help VIPKid to establish a foothold in China and as well as globally and use technology to empower the future of education so that more students and parents can benefit from it." Mentioned in a recently published article by EqualOcean, the online education market for children in 2018 exceeded CNY 21 billion (USD 2.9 billion), while the number of users reached 6.25 million. It is expected that this number will exceed 10 million this year. With the increase of public awareness, the penetration rate of the online education industry is growing, and it is expected to creep over 50% by 2022. It is believed that traditional offline learning modes will be almost completely replaced by online modes. Market polarization for children's online English learning is obvious, with four enterprises - VIPKid, 51Talk, DaDa(哒哒英语)and vipJr - occupying more than 90% of the market share.

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Sep 19, 2019 10:15 am ·

Rumors Prove False as Tencent Plans to Invest Millions in VIPKid

DoNews, part of Beijing Matador Culture Media Co., Ltd. reported this morning that Tencent will invest USD150 million in education startup VIPKid. Late in August, Reuters quoted two people familiar with the matter who said Tencent had shelved a plan to invest about USD 150 million in VIPKid. The main reason mentioned was that the relevant government departments had introduced some new regulations for the online education platform the previous month, requiring teachers to hold effective teaching qualifications and the platform to publish some specific information, such as foreign teacher certificates and work experience. The same people also said that VIPKid initially hoped to raise USD 500 million, but had later lowered its target to around USD 150 million. VIPKid, in an emailed statement to Reuters, said it has a deep partnership with Tencent as an "advisor, investor and role model." Founded in 2013, VIPKID is an online English education platform for children, featuring North American teachers and a1 to 1 teaching mode. According to the company’s website, it has now over 500,000 paid users and more than 70,000 registered North American teachers. Since then, the company has caught the eyes of some huge investors, with at least one investment per year. On June 21, 2018, VIPKID completed its Series D+ round of funding worth USD 500 million, led by Coatue, Tencent Holdings, Sequoia Capital China and YF Capital (云锋基金). To datethe children's English teaching firm has raised a total of USD 825.5 million over eight rounds of funding according to Itjuzi. VIPKid was also recently added in the list of 'The Global Unicorn Club' with a valuation of USD 3 billion, released by CB Insights, with 382 other unicorn companies from July 2010 to July 31, 2019, consisting of around 20 industries. However, online one-on-one English education is fiercely competitive. The enterprise costs and the costs of obtaining customers are high. It has been difficult for enterprises to make profits, and they are generally at the stage of relying on financing for development. In January this year, VIPKid stated that it expects the company to make profits in the 2021 fiscal year ending in March 2022, when the number of paid students will have reached 3 million. This means that before March 2022, VIPKid accounts need to have enough cash to support the development of the company. To make a profit, a company such as VIPKid has to scale up. This business model has been questioned about its low salaries, low profit margins, and high turnover rate. However, with more students, it has to recruit more teachers, which brings the company higher costs something it must do, otherwise the teaching quality will unavoidably decrease. In the past VIPKid has been criticized by parents, who claimed the teaching quality has dropped from what it used to be. The increasing popularity of the product makes it hard to maintain the same quality level as it did in the past.

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Sep 2, 2019 02:45 pm ·

The World Talks About the Era of AI+Education at WAIC 2019

The World Artificial Intelligence Conference was held in Shanghai from August 29-31. The event was organized by the Shanghai Municipal Government, the State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Internet Information Office, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Engineering and other ministries. Under the main event, the Education Technology and Artificial Intelligence forum was organized by EO Company, the sister publication of EqualOcean and Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Society. The theme of the forum was “AI leads the era and education creates the future.” The forum had two main topics: training talents with AI and cultivate the talents needed in the AI era. The guest list and the attendees of the forum added up to around 2000 which included a large number of scientists, entrepreneurs and investors focused on AI+education both foreign and domestic.  AI is changing education As a technology and industrial innovation service platform dedicated to promoting new technologies, and new ideas, we have been paying attention to the development of artificial intelligence technology in various industries. In the education industry, artificial intelligence is helping education to become personalized, and bringing about changes in the entire process of education. Facing the new trend of AI+education, a large number of influential people expressed their views at the forum: Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and dean of the School of Software at East China Normal University Mr. He Jifeng (何积丰), said that artificial intelligence can play a role in three aspects of basic education. Intelligent teaching tools. Mainly relying on the combination of artificial intelligence and educational methodology, based on AI, knowledge map, speech semantic recognition, visual recognition, personalized recommendation etc.; Intelligent curriculum system. Mainly the curriculum system + teaching system, relying on AI technology are programming education, robot education, maker education; Intelligent teaching environment. The Internet of Things+ intelligent system combines teaching, research, management and campus life in an integrated environment with work and life on campus. Zhang Hao (张浩), the Director of the Engineering Center of The Ministry of Enterprise Digital Technology Education, Director of Shanghai’s Association for Artificial Intelligence and a professor and doctoral supervisor at Tongji University, believes that “Data-driven smart education focuses on several factors. On one hand, it is a personalized for the teacher. In the past, teachers were guessing, and now they can use data assistance to be more accurate and efficient. On the other hand, it personalizes studying for the students. The former students always listened. Now they can be assisted by personalized data, and they can learn accordingly, and then establish a personalized learning model. At present, big data is mainly being used to promote personalized education.” Yang Linfeng (杨临风), co-founder and CEO of Onion Mathematics also shared his views on the topic: "now artificial intelligence education is booming, but the change is currently mainly in the auxiliary stage, and it takes time to reach the core of education.” He said that if artificial intelligence is really playing a role in the core of education, the direction is that adaptive learning of AI empowerment can really help students achieve self-learning. He further added “Self-learning does not mean that teachers are not needed at all. The role of teachers should be changed. Teachers are more about guiding students through the whole process, including leading students to study more advanced cognitive thinking goals, such as evaluation, analysis, and creation. But knowing at the level of understanding, simple application, many processes can be implemented through adaptive learning.” As the first domestic adaptive learning engine based on the advanced algorithm the event was a perfect match for the Squirrel AI. Mr. Zhou Wei (周伟) the co-founder of the company shared his thoughts. He said, "technology can change education, but the essence of education must be the combination of online and offline real-life teachers and the Internet. In our learning center, the teacher is responsible for 30% of the teaching, the system is responsible for 70% of the teaching, the teacher focuses on ‘education’ In part, and the system focuses on the ‘teaching’”.  About the revolution that AI will bring to education, he said, “Let students use fewer questions because they are more efficient. If you use the adaptive learning system for a long time, all the learning records are in the system, and the evaluation system can be used in the future. Bringing important references, education will become more transparent. In addition, letting each child truly master the learning ability and methods will reduce the frustration of each child and increase the sense of learning." Jesse Hailong Shang (尚海龙), Managing Director of SenseTime Hong Kong, and also a Joint Managing Director of Education Business, mentioned that “AI education gives children the freedom to create and choose. AI education is a quality education, not only technology and tools. ” Instead of viewing AI as a technology, we must look at ideas, ways to behave, and values, he stressed. We need to change our experience and not just think of AI as a technology, In the future, no matter whether you become an algorithmist or not, he thinks everyone will use AI one way or the other in the future, which is very important. Students are put in a standardized class. They are taught the same amount of content but it might not necessarily reflect every students interest. There are about 45-50 children per class in China. A standard class in Chinese public schools is 45 minutes long, so for example if they are studying English they really have no time to use the language. Technology is solving this problem by provinding students with digital content and after school applications to do their homework.  Education has come a long way. In the past the only way one could learn things was by either you learn it from a teacher or from books. Now Studtents have a lot of ways to learn and the knowledge is not limited. Children these days have a lot more access to digital content.     The combination of AI and education is still at a very early stage. The nect step would be the development of extended tutoring systems that allow indivisualized education At the forum EO think tank released the “2019 Global Artificial Intelligence Education Industry Research Report” Recently, UNESCO officially released the "Beijing Consensus - Artificial Intelligence and Education" document. The Document Initiative supports forward-looking research on cutting-edge issues related to the impact of emerging artificial intelligence development, and promotes the exploration of effective strategies and practices for using artificial intelligence to promote educational innovation.  In this context, EO Think Tank scanned the global artificial intelligence education market, and released the "2019 Global Artificial Intelligence Education Industry Research Report" conducted by the team of Professor from the East China Normal University Examination and Evaluation Institute. The study of 204 artificial intelligence education enterprises in developed countries and regions found seven “secrets” in the industry. 1. China's artificial intelligence education company is leading the world in terms of development time, amount of financing and amount of capital investment; 2. There is a difference in the promotion of “artificial intelligence” between Chinese and foreign educational institutions. Chinese education companies are more concerned about the “artificial intelligence” label in publicity where as foreign educational companies are not; 3. The development of artificial intelligence education is affected by both the bottleneck of AI technology itself and the insufficient data available in the education industry; 4. After the subversion, artificial intelligence education will eventually return to teaching aids. The role of human teachers should not be forgotten; 5. Educational brands and technical service providers should be treated separately. Technology suppliers have natural advantages in the number of service brands, it is possible to accumulate more data to train algorithms, but the technology of brand self-research may be more adaptable to the personalization of a particular scenario;  6. It is very important to cultivate the talents in the age of artificial intelligence, whether they grow the scientific research personnel under higher education or improve the quality of population in basic education stage; 7. STEAM education for young children in China has risen in the past five years, and it has been widely concerned by consumers for nearly three years. Compared with overseas, it is still in the early stage of development, so we believe that in STEAM education development, there are many Chinese companies that can learn from overseas. Deco You (由天宇) the Vice present of EO Company and head of EO Intelligence believes there are two major problems when talking about technology and education. First, what does technology mean to education?    We have been pursuing a student-centered education model, hoping to better enable students to learn and grow. But in the thousands of years of history, we have achieved very low levels. However, the combination of artificial intelligence, Internet and big data is likely to transform the teacher-centered education model into a student-centered, personalized, and efficient education. Second, what kind of talent is needed in the era of Artificial intelligence?  New technologies are driving and influencing many fields to be fast and intelligent. How to cultivate talents suitable for this era is also a very important issue. It will definitely affect the competitiveness of a country or a region in the world.     2019 AI+Education TOP 20 enterprise award winners Under the general trend of AI to empower various industries, it is very important to select a potential and powerful innovative enterprise to establish a benchmark in the industry. At the forum, EO Company awarded the “2019 China AI+ Education Enterprise Top 20” awards. It took more than two months to select the award winners, and the results of the selection were finally produced through the application of enterprises/institutions, multi-dimensional assessment, and expert evaluation.   This selection has comprehensively considered a number of factors, including: 1. the establishment time of the company should be more than 6 months, the accumulated financing amount should exceed CNY 100 million or the company is in its B or above round of financing; 2. the enterprise AI technology and R&D investment account for the total investment. An independent technology research and development team; 3. The company's business model should be clear, with rapid development, and a growing performance; 4. The company's product or service quality should be excellent, and has a certain market and media influence. The map below shows the logos of the top 20 award winning companies Note that the order is in the alphabetic (pinyin) order. Closed Door Investment Links Capitalists and Innovative Enterprises In parallel with the forum, there was closed-door meeting held for the first EO Education Innovation Project. As a sub-section of the “2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference-Education Technology and Artificial Intelligence Forum”, this closed-door was hosted by EO Company and co-organized by Duojing Capital (多鲸资本) and EdBeta Fund (北塔资本协办), aiming to encourage educational enterprises to innovate. We aim to educate and innovate enterprises with advanced educational concepts and innovative teaching methods, and engage with capitals to inject fresh finance into the education industry. A total of 14 educational innovation projects were selected at the closed door meeting including: Whiz Kids (小问号), Huoyouxi (猴有戏), Koala Know (考拉知道), Newline (新励成), Qiu Qiu huiben (球球绘本), Miaocode (妙小程), Heli edu (核力教育), Woobo, Xkbot (小卡机器人), Aiwei (爱维宝贝), Cedar Cove (雪松湾), VRSchool (微视酷), Xiaoyu Researcher (小鱼研究员),and 17 Career (一起求职). Under the wave of artificial intelligence-driven industry transformation, the education industry will also usher in new changes especially in personalization, scale and efficiency. “The 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference-Education Technology and Artificial Intelligence Forum” stands in the industry perspective and contributes to the development of the education industry and promotes the development of education innovation. Next, in the process of promoting education informationization and modernization, EO Company will continue to promote new technologies, new ideas and new policies into the education industry and serve the development of the Chinese education industry. 

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Aug 1, 2019 12:40 pm ·

Former TESOL Chairman Joins VIPKID as Chief Academic Officer

A former chairman of TESOL, Liu Jun (刘骏), has officially joined VIPKID as chief academic officer, as the company announced today. Liu is said to build international and authoritative academic standards as well as an elite teaching team for VIPKID. This is the first time that VIPKID has set up the CAO position. Though possessing academic consultants, nearly all online education companies don’t have an academic senior executive for now. Last month, the Beijing-based online education company had Zheng Zibin (郑子斌), former vice president of Baidu, join as its CTO. Liu Jun has a Ph.D. of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the Ohio State University and formerly worked as Head of the Department of English at the University of Arizona. From 2005 to 2007 he was the chairman of TESOL. He is the first Chinese chairman of the organization as well as the first one whose parent language is not English. TESOL, formerly Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, is the largest professional organization for teachers of English as a second or foreign language. Founded in 1966, the organization is based in Virginia, the United States. Last year in a face-to-face conversation with Cindy Mi (Mi Wenjuan, 米雯娟), professor Liu said: “Compared to the traditional teaching method, the advantage of online education is personalization. Different children will confront different kinds of problems and online education can help them solve these problems.” He also remarked that VIPKID’s scale and form were both “satisfactory” then. Founded in 2013, VIPKID is an online English education platform for children, featuring North American teachers and 1 to 1 teaching mode. According to the company’s website, it has now over 500,000 paid users and more than 70,000 registered North American teachers. Since its foundation, the company has always been popular among investors, with at least one investment per year. On June 21, 2018, VIPKID completed its Series D+ round of funding, with an amount of USD 500 million, led by Coatue, Tencent Holdings, Sequoia Capital China and YF Capital (云锋基金). However, probably due to the “capital winter” of China, there are not any rumors about its new round of funding as of press time. From this perspective, the VIPKID’s team adjustment may be also a strategy in fundraising.

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May 8, 2019 10:58 am ·

VIPKID Included in BrandZ’s Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands

VIPKID, China’s English teaching unicorn was recently named the 94rth most valuable brand in the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands report released by WPP and Kantar. Alibaba, Tencent, and ICBC are the first, second and third on the list respectively.  “It’s an honor to be included on this list of outstanding brands,” said VIPKID Founder and CEO Cindy Mi. “To be recognized after only five years in the marketplace is a testament to the dedication of our team to our mission and vision of building a global classroom.” Founded in 2013 and formally launched in 2014, VIPKID has become China’s market-leading online education startup, attracting investment from Tencent, Coatue Management, Sequoia Capital, Sinovation Ventures, Yunfeng Capital, Matrix Partners, Learn Capital, Northern Light VC, and Bryant Stibel, among others.  VIPKID has a valuation of around USD 1.5 billion. It matches over 70,000 teachers in North America and Canada with over 600,000 Chinese students of ages 4 to 12. The student retention rate is 95%, and its revenues for 2018 were USD 760 million, up from USD 300 million in 2017. VIPKID was ranked 29nth on the 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies list and 2nd among Chinese companies. Cindy MI was also invited to speak on a roundtable at BrandZ’s summit on May 6th in Beijing. Joined by other CEOs and leaders, including Haier President and Vice Chairman Yunjie ZHOU and Kantar CEO Eric SALAMA, and speaking to an audience of over 1,000 executives, government officials, investors, and media, Mi explained how VIPKID has maintained a global mindset while scaling quickly in a competitive and evolving market. Another Chinese brand on the list is Huawei which was ranked sixth, consistent with last year. Huawei’s brand value was USD 33.1 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 38%. Xiaomi is at number 11 with a brand value estimated at USD 20.6 billion. The BrandZ ranking measures value based on a deep understanding of what motivates consumers, how to fulfill their expectations and how to build powerful and valuable brands that consumers and investors love. Another list was released by the same brand-building platform BrandZ of the top 50 most valuable brands from China which are competing on the global scene. Huawei recorded the strongest performance in the overseas market in the past two years and that the company’s brand value increased by 22% compared to 2018. Huawei was followed by Lenovo, Alibaba, and Xiaomi on the second, third and fourth places respectively. Huawei’s dominance in several markets outside China is undisputable especially compared to other Chinese phone brands. Created by WPP and Kantar, BrandZ is the world's largest and most definitive brand building platform with a series of brand valuation rankings that allow business owners to understand the financial contribution their brand makes to their business. First launched in 2011, the report combines rigorously analyzed market data from Bloomberg with extensive consumer insights from over 3.7 million consumers around the world, including opinions from nearly 290,000 Chinese consumers on over 1,100 brands. Notably, the total value of the top 100 brands in China increased by 30% this year, the highest annual rise since the ranking was launched.

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Apr 15, 2019 11:21 am ·

Renowned LinkedIn Data Expert, Zhou YANG Joins VIPKID

On April 15, 2019, according to Techweb, VIPKID officially confirmed the news of Zhou YANG (周洋), well known Big data and algorithm expert, joining the Chinese online education unicorn. Zhou YANG (周洋) at VIPKID will be responsible for the construction of Big data system for the online education platform. With the experience and expertise Zhou will help promote the construction of underlying data system, explore more business scenarios, transform data into productivity, explore intelligence of online education data, and make maximum use of the data.  Zhou YANG (周洋) is a well-known data expert in silicon valley. He was head of linkedIn’s growth and international business data science. While working at LinkedIn Zhou created and led the growth data team and helped the company achieve rapid user growth in the emerging markets, increasing the number of users from 200 million to 650 million. He made data-driven decision-making centered on the user value. VIPKID is one of the largest online English tutoring companies in China, which has a valuation of around USD 1.5 billion. It matches over 70,000 teachers in North America and Canada with over 600,000 Chinese students of ages 4 to 12. The student retention rate is 95%, and its revenues for 2018 were USD 760 million, up from USD 300 million in 2017. VIPKID was ranked 29nth on the 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies list and 2nd among Chinese companies. The company was founded in 2013 and officially launched in 2014. It attracted investment from huge names such as Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Sinovation Ventures, Yunfeng Capital, Matrix Partners, Learn Capital, Northern Light VC, etc.  “VIPKID can capture user’s physical and emotional data (such as the eyes and change of expressions) through face recognition, emotion recognition, and other technologies. Analyzing both, the teacher and the student, calculating the user’s attention, and understanding the effectiveness of long distance online learning process. This leads to the formation of user focus and the key factors of knowledge acquisition, which in turn allows students to be more focused and efficient.” Said Cindy MI at a recent interview. The English education market is not the only goal of Cindy MI. She believes with the same technology, Chinese teachers can provide Chinese language teaching services to overseas markets.  The well-known recruitment website Flexjobs rated VIPKID as “the best company for a home office in the United States” and surpassed the old giants such as Amazon and Dell.  By recruiting Big data expert, Zhou YANG (周洋), VIPKID has taken a further step to increase the number of users of the company. Zhou has completed his Ph.D. in computer science from Michigan State University. Since then he has worked for Yahoo, Microsoft and other well-known companies. With the rapid development of online education and technology, VIPKID has become an attractive company for big data and algorithm experts. VIPKID is currently the world’s largest one-on-one online education platform with more than 180,000 daily courses and a total of 4.5 million minutes of teaching per day. VIPKID has also established an online education research and development institute in North America, together with well-known North American academics, to improve the learning level and efficiency of children around the world through cutting-edge technology. 

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Apr 13, 2019 02:47 pm ·

"Close Friends Involved", as Rumors Damage VIPKID's Reputation

April 12, VIPKID, China’s online language education giant, issued a stern statement, The Company has been hit with a massive, organized and sustained cyber rumor campaign since March 31, and a small number of friends have also been involved in spreading the rumor. VIPKID responded that it had filed a complaint with the Beijing Public Security Bureau against the massive "cyber" attack and firmly relied on legal means to safeguard the company's legitimate rights and interests, reported Jingmeiti. Below are the details of the statement issued by VIPKID in response to the rumors; In March this year, the number of VIPKID students exceeded 600,000 and over 70,000 foreign teachers in North America. The single-month income reached a new high, the market share and dominant position were further strengthened. However, Since March 31, VIPKID has been subjected to massive, organized and sustained cyber-rumor attacks, and a small number of friends have also been involved in the spread of the rumors. In this regard, VIPKID solemnly declares the following. • VIPKID is in good operating condition and has a study cash flow. The workplaces in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Dalian are still expanding, and the opening of Shenzhen workplace was officially announced in March.  • Concerning the cyber the large-scale "cyber" attack, we have reported to the Beijing public security agencies, and will report to the relevant Central Government departments! We firmly rely on legal means to safeguard the company's legitimate rights and interests! • The continued spreading of these rumors has also caused a great deal of trouble to parents and partners who trust VIPKID. We hereby promise: to never tolerate any kind of rumors. • At present, the National Network Information Office is carrying out the “Special Action for Network Ecological Governance”. We also warn some friends: Please give up the "black PR" thinking! We call on relevant government departments to pay attention to malicious competition and maintain good, orderly and healthy development of the industry. The soul of education is to educate people, and the way of education is to conscience. We also call on industry peers to work together to create a better learning environment for children and to create a better world. As reported by EqualOcean earlier VIPKID has went through some tough times not very long ago. Last year VIPKID, leading online education company, announced on their official website that they had cooperated with Walt Disney Company, to which Disney replied that there has been no business cooperation of any sort between the two companies. Even if a huge company like Disney had business cooperation with VIPKID why would it suddenly deny it? Well, that is because Disney is very strict when it comes to copyrights and they do not want any company violating that in the name of cooperation. Read more on this. VIPKID is one of the largest online English tutoring companies in China, which has a valuation of around USD 1.5 billion. It matches over 70,000 teachers in North America and Canada with over 600,000 Chinese students of ages 4 to 12. The student retention rate is 95%, and its revenues for 2018 were USD 760 million, up from USD 300 million in 2017. VIPKID was ranked 29nth on the 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies list and 2nd among Chinese companies.

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Apr 10, 2019 07:46 pm ·

Rumor Spreads that Gogokid is Conducting Massive Layoff on April 2019

On April 7, 2019, a post from maimai.com said that Gogokid, a tutoring platform for Chinese children to learn English online with foreign teachers, was laying off employees, with the proportion of 70-80%, or 50% minimum, and sales personnel were cut from 700 or 800 to 200. The official response of Gogokid denies this news. Despite the authenticity of the news, the grim situation Gogokid faces do exist. There are up to 27 online children's English education brands in the Chinese market, including VIPKid, 51Talk and DaDa, which are expanding from 2014 all the way in the Internet-plus-Education industry, as well as the traditional K12 education group, TAL Education Group and New Oriental Education & Technology Group, who are rushing from offline into the online business. Though experiencing economic downturn starting from last year, online education sector keeps gaining momentum compared with other industries. In June 2018, VIPKid, the leading company in online English education, was jointly invested by Coatue, Tencent, Sequoia Capital China Fund and Yunfeng Fund (云锋基金), which set a record of the largest fundraising of series D+ in the field of online education worldwide. That explains why the USD 75 billion social media unicorn Bytedance, who developed the Gogokid online platform, decided to enter the K12 online education sector even as a rather late entrant. The Gogokid's target market, youngsters aged 4 to 12, lines up exactly with that of Tencent's education service VIPKid. They both provide children with one-on-one online English courses, link teachers from North America to kids in China. The "curriculum system" published on their official websites are basically the same, the hourly course prices of both are between CNY 90 and CNY 130, almost 30% higher than their counterparties. They also implemented the same free refund within one month after the first purchase. The amount Bytedance financed for Gogokid is not disclosed at present, but compared with its rival VIPKid, whose total amount of six-year financing rounds is about CNY 5.5 billion, is still not profitable. It is not difficult to imagine that Gogokid, who possesses no better teaching resource and inspections for the industry, is far more from achieving its profit. Bytedance launches a series of apps that heavily rely on traffic, whether information or video or even selfie retouching, have "entertainment" attributes, or killing time. Behind these apps, there is a big booster of an algorithm. This powerful booster essentially is applied to catering and amuse people. Their contents are basically not related to the word "quality" or “value-added”, but they do contribute to the MAU (Monthly Active Users), which means money for the past 5 years of internet plus movement. The skyrocketing MAU and demand for traffic monetization online education as one of his goals. However, the core competency of online education is essentially qualified teachers and their teaching-researching experience on the supply side, not the ability to get customers on the demand side. Though the CAC (Cost of Acquiring Customer) soared to CNY 3000 per customer on average by 2018, no existing companies have effectively solved the problems of uneven teachers' level, difficult refund, expensive tuition, lower consumption experience, and high operating cost, technology and algorithm can only play the role of icing on the cake rather than timely assistant for the industry. Online education is never a technical product, it needs a lot more patience and money, not the other way around. The original intention of online education is to solve the pain point of the industry, the uneven distribution of educational resources in urban and rural areas. In the enthusiasm of seeking profits from capital, we might as well calm down and ask whether the needs of children, who eager to learn but do not have qualified teachers supported, have been met.

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Mar 20, 2019 03:00 pm ·

Exploring Foreign Teacher Training with the use of Big Data

Recently TESOL, International authoritative academic institution, which stands for “teaching English to speakers of other languages”, and Chinas online education unicorn, VIPKID jointly announced to take the cooperation to a higher level. Both companies will deepen and expand the scope of their partnership. Will further provide targeted professional training for foreign teachers on the VIPKID platform.  It is reported that with the deepening of the cooperation the two parties will also explore the use of big data in the field. It will help increase teaching effectiveness, help teacher with a career plan, curriculum content development etc.  TESOL, founded in 1996 is a global English teachers association that provides English language services to non-native English learners. It is committed to improving the level of English teaching across the world. TESOL related certificates are regarded as proof of worlds authoritative English teaching professional qualification.  In 2016 VIPKID and TESOL established a strategic partnership, and the two sides jointly developed more than 250 hours of professional teacher training content for online English teaching. This Data shows that more than 30,000 teachers have completed the training through the VIPKID platform. This further deepening cooperation will promote more VIPKID foreign teachers to receive targeted online English teaching professional training.  “Encouraging teachers to benefit children”, Founder of VIPKID CINDY Mi said, “The cooperation between VIPKID and TESOL has been very successful. More and more teachers are improving their English teaching skills through training. Online education has opened up careers for many teachers and the deepened cooperation will empower even more teachers to choose the path of online teaching, so that the children around the world can receive high-quality education”  At an interview with CNBC CINDY Mi said, when asked about if VIPKID was more than just an education company, that “VIPKid connects 4 to 15-year-old Chinese students, who want to learn English, after school, at the comfort of their homes, to teachers in North America, in the United States and Canada, so that teachers can teach the students, live, live streaming, real-time, one-on-one, in the comfort of their own home, as well, but they will then learn together, through this iPad, or this computer, so this is a connection between students and teachers that’s never happened before in human history, but is creating such a great learning efficacy for our students, because they’re so engaged with their big friends, and they’re looking forward to having the classes every day. So, we were founded in 2013, and by now, we have half a million students, and over 60,000 teachers, that work with us on a weekly basis”. When asked about whether she sees VIPKid becoming a model for schooling, in decades ahead, she replied: “we have such huge, tremendous respect for all educators, online and offline, trying to make it work better. Right? So, our thesis is, everything would be blended, or partially online, because it just helps with the data, it helps with efficiency, efficacy, everything can be so much more engaging and enriched, but I think the direction, generally, we would believe in, is one, it’s going to be more personalized, because of the technology connection, teacher/student interaction, content, designed in a knowledge graph way, where we can personalize experience, and secondly, I think it’s going to be more global. No student would only learn from the teachers in the country only, but, you know, summer camp is a good example, where American students will go to Europe, so a more global learning community would be there. And then, lastly, I think, more access to education, affordable education, where technology really helps lower down the cost, bridging better, connecting better, being efficient, teachers get paid more, students pay less, so we can then help-, there are still a billion people out there where they only have 3 US dollar a day as a living expense, so education is a luxury. So when we can then implement all these great technologies, like, learning, for all these students, so learning is never a luxury, and then we can really build a personalized, affordable, and global online learning platform, for all the children. So, we want to start-, one sentence-, we want to start with afterschool tutoring, figure out how students can learn English better, and then apply this, and help more rural schools, and then gradually, you know, what we can do for the learning community and education field, to make learning better and more efficient for the students. That’s our goal”.  With already high tensions between the US and China regarding the cybersecurity concerns, TESOL might be forced to take a step back from this cooperation. The news of cybersecurity has been a hot topic in both China and the US since last month.   

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Mar 19, 2019 12:40 pm ·

Disney: “We Never had Business Cooperation at any Stage with VIPKid”

Disney has been and still is a part of millions of children around the world. Disney entered China in 2016 when it opened the Shanghai Disney Resort. The colorful opening ceremony featured speeches, fireworks, and "mostly orderly crowds" despite the rain. One of the dignitaries, Vice Premier WANG Yang, joked that the wet weather foretold good luck for the resort because it represented a “rain of U.S. dollars and RMB”.  Last year VIPKID, leading online education company, announced on their official website that they had cooperated with Walt Disney Company, to which Disney replied that there has been no business cooperation of any sort between the two companies. On March 18, 2019, Walt Disney (China) Co., Ltd. Issued a statement that said Walt Disney Company never had any level of business cooperation with VIPKid, especially in China. VIPKID had invited their students to participate in the “Disney Youth Education series” which is an extracurricular activities course at Disney land, California and is a project open to all age-appropriate people.  People familiar with VIPKID revealed to Titanium Media that there is indeed some “cooperation” in the business, but it may have died because of the internal commercial conflict of interest in Disney China. VIPKID is an online English teaching company. VIPKID has provided one-on-one online North American tutoring courses for young people aged 4 to 12 and has launched a variety of courses covering 18-year-olds in recent years. In June 2018, VIPKID announced the completion of D+ round of USD 500 million financing, with a valuation of more than CNY20 billion, which is known as the largest financing for global online education to date. In response, VIPKID did not directly indicate whether it had cooperated with Disney officials but indicated that there were indeed many activities supported by Disney. In April 2018, VIPKID launched its “World Classroom” project cooperating with the Orlando Tourism Bureau of Florida and Tourism Association of California. 16 episodes of children English teaching content in 2 seasons were shot at Disneyland, California and Disney World, Orlando. During the shooting according to VIPKID, they received support from the local tourism bureau and as well as the Disney staff.   Around 5 months later, VIPKID held “World Classroom conference” at Shanghai Disney hotel and in Beijing. The head of Orange County Tourism Association of California and the Director of Marketing and Sales of Disney Destination China attended the conference and delivered speeches to jointly launch the VIPKID World Classroom Dream Seeking Tour.  On February 8, 2019, the Orange County Tourist Association of California and VIPKID launched the World Classroom. Dozens of children from China participated in the Disney Youth Educational Series. On March 5, 2019, VIPKID officially announced that Disney will open its premium experience learning program on the VIPKID platform, around 30 kids from China already became the first group of users of the program. According to Disney, these activities have no cooperation whatsoever with VIPKID.  Even if a huge company like Disney had business cooperation with VIPKID why would it suddenly deny it? Well, that is because Disney is very strict when it comes to copyrights and they do not want any company violating that in the name of cooperation.  Let us say there was cooperation and if there was one there should be a hardcopy, VIPKID can just use it as a proof and it will all be over. Just because an official from Disney China attended the conference, VIPKID cannot say that they have cooperated with the firm.  About the 16 episodes shot at Disney world, If the videos were shot with the permission of the Disney world officials then the copyrights of the content belong to VIPKID and they can upload it on their official website or accounts.  People familiar with the Chinese online education company said the sudden backing out of Disney might be because of Disney English. Disney English is used in more than 100,000 classrooms and operates in more than 50 countries according to the official source. VIPKID, on the other hand, targets the same age of children (2-18) and has more than 500,000 paid users in 63 countries worldwide.  From Disneys prospective Disney English has been its key business in China since it entered back in 2018.  Although it is based on offline English education, it can be said that its core competitiveness is Disney's content itself.

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Jan 31, 2019 07:39 pm ·

VIPKID is Seeking Around USD 500 Million In a Fresh Round of Financing

Jan 31, 2019, /EqualOcean/ - VIPKID is said to be preparing for raising around USD 500 Million in a new round of financing. The news was firstly released by The Information on the 29th Jan, however, the action was not confirmed officially by anyone from the company. Until just now, EqualOcean received a message from the Vice President of VIPKID confirming the company's preparation on the matter. The company will be valued at USD 3500 Million, doubling its valuation of last year if the financing turns out to be a success. The Vice President also clarified another rumor from a competitor of the company earlier reported by Leiphone.com (雷锋网). In the article, VIPKID's new round of financing forbids investors from reading the company's previous financial reports when making investment decisions. VIPKID has completed 7 rounds of financing after its incubation in 2014, it could secure at least one round of fresh financing every year since 2014. Altogether it has received USD 880 million; the last round topped USD 500 million, was the highest amount raised in the company's history. Also, the investors behind VIPKID are Chinese giant Tencent (腾讯), and powerful western originated funds like Sequoia Capital, who invested in Alibaba (阿里巴巴) in the past, the current No.1 E-commerce company in China. As the company expands, the startup's losses are also ascending up to more than USD 173 million in 2017. Nevertheless, the company is still promising its investors that it will reach its operating breakeven point by 2022. Just recently, on January 15th, one of the VIPKID's strong competitors, an online children's English education company, DaDa English announced the completion of its Series D round of financing, the amount was USD 255 million, led by Warburg Pincus and Xue Er Si (学而思) under TAL Education Group (好未来). It seems VIPKID's recent move represents the enhancing of the already fierce competition between the top players of the online children's English education industry. The company dedicated to online English education for children from 4 to 15 years old, featuring 1 on 1 online lessons offered by teachers from North America. Now, the company has offices in 9 locations worldwide and covering more than 500,000 students. There are 6 brands under the group, including VIPKID, online Chinese learning platform "Lingo Bus", and 1 to 4 small-scale class called "SayABC", etc, covering the entire early education phase of a child from birth to 18 years old.

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Nov 29, 2018 05:43 pm ·

New Chinese Government Policy Aims at Formalizing Online Education

November 26, 2018, the Ministry of Education of People Republic of China published an announcement about regularizing the off-campus education industry, especially the online education. For the industry, the news has made a splash among all involvers since the policy requires all online educators to register at local education department to verify their teaching qualifications. The policy is the sign that the online education is formed into a noticeable scale and the market's present status has caught government’s attention. The influence brought by the policy may be double sided. In this decade, the online education has presented a blowout growth in China, particularly in K12 education. In 2013, when the largest North America based online education organization Coursera received its series B funding of USD 64 million led by World Bank Group, the cheering signal sent from the other side of the ocean considerably stimulated China's online education market. According to a report published in 2018 from i-Research*, online education market size has boosted from CNY 6.37 billion (USD 1 billion) in 2012 to CNY 28.9 billion (USD 4.28 bilion) in 2017 and the expected market of 2018 will be over CNY 40 billion (USD 6.1 billion). Investors are crowded in and rushing into K12 online education market. The representative K12 online educator, VIPKID founded in 2013 is a sought-after company for VCs and PEs with its business in Chinese-English K12 language study. In its latest completed series D funding led by Sequoia Capital China, Coatue Management, Yunfeng Capital and Tencent Holdings, VIPKID raised USD 700 million in June 2018. Hitherto, VIPKID’s total funding amount has reached more than USD 1 billion. Investors endorse the prospects of VIPKID, or in another words, solidly believe in the future of China’s online education. The published policy aiming at formalizing the whole industry is referred as the gray rhino by several media. The restrictions and requirements of teachers’ qualifications may put a brake on market expansion and growth and slow down the investment pace. Whether the policy would hit the weakest spot of the online education, online education’s formalization is a must-to-do for current market, especially when K12 kids are the most sensitive nerve for their parents and the country. *“2018 China's K12 Online Education Industry Research Report”published by i-Research Intitute --Author: FU YingWei; write to YingWei at YingWei@EqualOcean.com

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