Vipkid, the online teaching platform that connects English teachers to Chinese students, may be slashing a sizable portion of its employees across business departments, according to people familiar with the matter.
Why it matters: News of the layoffs follow shortly after the company announced that it had closed a Series E for an undisclosed amount led by Tencent. Despite the fresh funding, the Beijing-based company continues to grapple with high user acquisition costs and fierce competition in the sector.
- Vipkid competes against a host of Chinese rivals such as 51Talk, Hitalkkids, and Dada ABC to attract English speakers to power their live tutoring programs.
Details: The company is laying off around 30% of its employee in the sales, operations, and research and development (R & D) units, a person close to the matter told TechNode on Friday.
- The online education platform will be shutting down one of their main product lines and restructuring in December, according to the person.
- “Lots of people in the R&D department got their notice on Thursday and Nov. 30 will be their last day,” the person said.
- A Maimai user who is a verified Vipkid employee in the R & D department commented on a Nov. 20 post, confirming the layoffs on the professional networking platform.
- Another Vipkid employee verified on Maimai said that in addition to the layoffs, the company is also slashing employee benefits while switching from a base salary structure to a performance-based pay mechanism.
- News of the cuts began circulating on Chinese media beginning last week, and the company refuted the rumor to Chinese media.
- A Maimai user going by “Xiyangyang” said in September that the company would cut its costs by 18% as a condition of its latest funding round, and predicted that around 10% of total headcount would be laid off after the October national holiday.
- In a response late Saturday, the company told TechNode that the “limited staffing corrections in some divisions” were a result of optimizing to create greater efficiency.
- “We are actively growing in [other divisions] and will be hiring thousands of new employees in the months and years ahead,” a spokeswoman said to TechNode.
Context: Vipkid founder Mi Wenjuan announced in an internal letter that the platform had 712,00 currently enrolled students as of September, up from 500,000 in June 2018.
Update: added a statement from the company, which had initially denied any layoffs.