91Waijiao (“just want foreign teachers”) is an online English-learning service that only provides teachers who use English as mother tongue. It recently raised $4 million series A funding from NetEase, one of the biggest Internet companies in China.
The service is co-founded by Gong Haiyan, founder and former CEO of online dating service Jiayuan, and Zhang Dong, a former Baidu scientist. It aims to provide a high quality English-learning experience to Chinese.
NetEase tapped into online education with its Open Course program which provides educational videos in Chinese and English (with subtitles in Chinese) in late 2010. William Ding, CEO of NetEase, is bullish on online education. It was reported that NetEase had spent 10 million yuan (about $1.6 million) translating courses licensed from US universities as of the end of 2012.(in Chinese)
Gong Haiyan left Jiayuan in late 2012 after a co-CEO was introduced in early that year to solve problems that emerged. Jiayuan went publisc on the NASDAQ in mid-2011. The very first Chinese public company in online dating made 330 million yuan in revenue and 39.8 million in profit that year. But active users started decreasing from the second quarter of 2012, and revenues declined accordingly. Gong once tried to build another online service for wedding planning, but it turns out it didn’t work well.