Earlier this year Alibaba Group led US$100 million investment in TutorGroup, online English & Chinese-learning platform. Arthur Shen, COO of the company, told us at our TechCrunch/TechNode event in Beijing today that they didn’t expect such large amount of money. What they were eyeing on was the huge user base Alibaba has.
As estimated by TutorGroup, English training market for Chinese adults will grow by 25% annually, reaching US$21 billion by 2016. TutorGroup expects to see triple-digit growth in sales in the next several years.
TutorGroup, founded in 2004, provides 24 hours/7 days service, which is made possible by two thousand teachers the company has hired in 30 countries, according to the company. With three brands for English-language learning, VIPABC (for mainland China and Asia), vipabcJr (for 8-18-year olds in mainland China), and TutorABC (for Taiwan), TutorGroup also has a service, TutorMing, for Mandarin learners. Users in 40 countries around the world have consumed more than 5 million courses on TutorGroup platforms.
With R&D team in Silicon Valley, TutorGroup has developed a solution to recommend personalized courses based on the learning history of a student. Shen said that, though models like MOOC are good for users in one way or another, VIPABC will always offer live online courses for language learning needs real-time interactions.
VIPABC doesn’t want to be like traditional schools that there are a few star teachers in each school when an online platform can accommodate as many teachers as possible, according to Shen.
Bradden Wondra, CTO of Pearson Growth Markets, also joined our discussion today. Pearson is shifting focus to digital business and emerging markets. The company has acquired a bunch of language training schools, Longman Schools, Dell English, Wall Street English and Global Education in China.
Global Education has established an online learning platform that has one million registered users, according to Wondra.