Bytedance is Testing an AI Teacher
Bytedance looks to strengthen its position in the education industry as it announces an AI teacher for children.
According to local media firm LatePost’s WeChat, the world’s most valued startup and the owner of Tiktok is set to release a 24-hour artificial intelligence teacher for K12 students in China by early 2020.
In 2018, Bytedance (字节跳动) challenged the Tencent-backed VIPKid by launching an online English teaching platform, Gogokid. However, according to 36kr, Gogokid had a massive layoff, losing more than 70% of its employees in April with the aim of cutting costs.
Then in May this year, the company officially released an online education portal offering mathematics and language courses for K12, taught by graduates of China’s top two universities - Peking and Tsinghua.
Since July, Bytedance has been testing a new English learning application called Tangyuan English, which features an ambitious combination mode with ‘AI + real person’ teaching working together. It is the third English learning product Bytedance has developed, along with Open Language (开言英语) and Dubaibeidanci (读白背单词).
Compared to Open Language, which provides various English podcasts based on specific scenarios, this new app offers interactive video courses. The AI assistant will give deliver notes in response to the pronunciation of learners and teachers will thus be better able to help them to improve it.
The latest AI teacher project is being led by Yang Luyu (阳陆育), who is also the co-founder of Musical.ly. The project team is working together with Smartisan former tech staff as in January, ByteDance acquired some patents and hired employees from Smartisan.
In addition, LatePost also revealed that Chen Lin (陈林), who is currently responsible for the innovation business side of Bytedance, is focusing more on educational hardware. This shows that the educational hardware is seen as a crucial element of the firm’s move to break into the field of education. Overall, it may represent a breakthrough point in its hardware strategy.
The celebrated unicorn actually hit the lower end of its 2018 revenue targets after a sharper-than-projected slowdown in Chinese advertising growth, reported TechinAsia.
In the first half of 2019, there were 36 investment and financing events in the K12 education field. Out of the total financing of CNY 9.291 billion, K12 contributed CNY 5.826 billion, accounting for 63% of the total amount. The top three of the investments raised also belong to the K12 companies, with Zhangmen (掌门1对1) raising a staggering amount of USD 1 billion for their E round, DaDa ABC (哒哒英语) and Gaosi Education (高思教育) both raising a D round financing of USD 255 million and USD 140 million respectively. Bytedance has kept these facts in mind and has made a wise decision to dive into the K12 segment - although we will have to wait until 2020 for them to actually release their product.