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.