VIPKid is another online tutoring platform, founded by Cindi Mi in 2013 with an initial focus on connecting Chinese children with native English speakers for one-on-one language lessons online.

After an initial period of success it started to run into more competition from copycat platforms. The company tried to scale up quickly but this meant recruiting more teachers at higher fees. Another approach was to broaden its offering into class-sized sessions but critics claimed that it was chasing growth too aggressively and failing to invest in core needs such as technology. Investors were disgruntled, concerned that free lessons being offered to parents for referrals were becoming too much of a liability.

The most recent funding round was led by Tencent in 2019 but was said to have come in much lower than the planned $500 million. Since then VIPKid has cut headcount and reduced the range of online courses that it offers. It says it will streamline its offerings to one-on-one online classes, with a combination of live English tutors and artificial intelligence-powered online assistants.

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