Online education platform TutorGroup racks up about $200 mln


Online education platform TutorGroup has secured about $200 million in Series C funding The investors included GIC, the Russia-China Investment Fund, Goldman Sachs and Silverlink Capital LP.

PRESS RELEASE

SHANGHAI – November 18, 2015 – TutorGroup, a leading online education platform, today announced a Series C equity financing of approximately $200 million. The investment values TutorGroup at over $1 billion, and attracted marquee new investors, including GIC, Singapore’s sovereign fund; the Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF); Goldman Sachs; and Silverlink Capital LP.

This round of investment sets a new record in the global education technology industry. “Despite an extremely challenging fundraising environment, we generated significant interest and excitement from some of the world’s top investors, which validates the clear leadership we have established in the online education market and underscores our belief that TutorGroup has the right technology, strategy and team to be the long-term winner in the industry,” said Dr. Ming Yang, Founder of TutorGroup.

“TutorGroup already sits in an unparalleled position of strength, and this investment will allow us to extend our lead in the exploding online education industry,” said Dr. Eric Yang, CEO and co-founder of TutorGroup. “These resources will accelerate and broaden our global profile by enabling us to expand internationally and grow the business platform that enables the exchange of professional advice and other online services, furthering our ability to tap the significant potential on which our competitors will be unable to capitalize. It is our vision to capture all H2H (“Human-to-Human”) online collaboration opportunities.”

“With today’s announcement, we look forward to serving more users through the expansion of our services, as well as continuing to explore how we can extend our platform to other ‘Expert on Demand’ options,” said Jerry Huang, Chief Operating Officer of TutorGroup.

With more than 4,500 teachers in 60 countries around the world, TutorGroup provides real-time interactive language training through millions of classes annually. Through its proprietary platform, TutorGroup currently offers online English language-learning courses to both adult professionals and K-12 students, in the greater China region via TutorABC and VIPABC, and TutorMing for Chinese language students internationally.

Launched in 2004, with offices throughout Asia and a core R&D team based in Silicon Valley, TutorGroup created the first commercially available synchronous learning portal, connecting students and teachers globally. These breakthroughs brought language learning out of the realm of simple tutoring and beyond the confines of the physical classroom, dramatically expanding access to foreign languages in a globalized world. With TutorGroup, teachers and students can now learn what they want, when they want it and wherever they are in the world – even in remote locations – and at their own pace.

Given the Company’s established technology platform and ability to seamlessly connect people around the world to one another without geographical and time constraints, TutorGroup will soon expand its offerings beyond language learning to other “Expert on Demand” applications. As the sharing economy continues to grow, TutorGroup sees opportunities to connect users to experts, from tutoring of all school subjects to professional consulting services such as legal counsel, medical advice, and personal wealth management, to leisure learning such as cooking, yoga, and much more. TutorGroup has already launched its innovative TutorGlass initiative – an application used with Google Glass to offer live thematic learning. The Company expects to continue building out its efforts in these adjacencies to further take advantage of the significant opportunity presented.

At the heart of TutorGroup’s technology stack is an adaptive learning solution and algorithms that dynamically recommend the optimal class size, learning pace and content, selected from more than 16,000 hours of available learning materials. These recommendations are continually calibrated and matched by a proprietary engine that intelligently gathers the individual student’s learning history and change in his/her learning requirements. The system also interprets learner behavior from a bank of rich data analytics, leveraging data from more than 10 years of online courses, totaling more than 10 million sessions. All of the course content that the Company has amassed is user-rated, constantly updated and checked for accuracy, and is available for live learning at any time and from anywhere in the world.

As part of the TutorGroup ecosystem, the Company’s comprehensive technology suite also includes a 24/7 support module, a CRM tool, student and teacher memory, course management capability and a “classroom manager” that ensures each student learns at a pace and a class size that best suits him or her. These capabilities enable TutorGroup to create and efficiently manage a marketplace of teachers and students, facilitating interaction among them in ways that have enabled thousands of teachers to earn a full-time living teaching through the TutorGroup platform. This self-developed ecosystem has elevated the entry barrier for other entrants into the space, as most online teaching service providers either employ non-native speakers to deliver classes via third party VoIP software or deliver asynchronous pre-recorded lessons, which have been proven to be largely ineffective.

TutorGroup’s existing investors include a syndicate of renowned institutions, including Alibaba, Temasek, Qiming Venture Partners, SBI Holdings and CyberAgent Ventures.

Investors’ Commentary
Ravi Balasubramanian, Head, Asia Equities Research, GIC, said, “As a long-term investor, we believe there are growth opportunities in the online learning sector. TutorGroup is the pioneer with a strong track record in customizing online learning and collaboration experience.”

Mr. Bing Hu and Mr. Kirill Dmitriev, Co-CEOs at Russia-China Investment Fund added, “We believe TutorGroup’s real-time interactive language learning platform is one of the most comprehensive in the industry, combining an intuitive technology suite, leading content, an unmatched analytic feedback algorithm, and a pipeline of innovations and scale. TutorGroup is well positioned to execute on its strategy as it looks to expand to new languages and subjects. We are excited about our partnership with TutorGroup and are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation between RCIF and TutorGroup.”

Stephanie Hui, Head of Merchant Banking Division Asia Pacific (Ex Japan) at Goldman Sachs, added, “As the world becomes more interconnected and business becomes more global, there is an enormous demand for language learning. We believe TutorGroup is well positioned to capture this opportunity with its unique online platform.”

Andrew Tsuei, Founder of Silverlink Capital, added, “Internet technology will enable a broad, strategic opportunity to deliver education services, individual-to-individual, across geographies and time zones, allowing students to seek, and empowering teachers to provide, the knowledge of their choice, according to the time and place and pace of their choice. Dr. Yang and his team have built an impressive platform for the delivery of English-language learning. In particular, TutorGroup has combined many of the advantages of a ‘sharing economy’ with a ‘marketplace’ for services. We have every confidence that, with their personal commitment and entrepreneurial spirit, this team will continue to build and expand this platform over the coming years, and, we look forward to being a member of the TutorGroup family.”

About TutorGroup
TutorGroup is the premier online education platform and the largest English language learning institution in the world, serving students that range from global business professionals to young children.
Founded in 2004, TutorGroup has educated students in 40 countries, and has hosted more than 10 million classroom sessions through its award winning products, including VIPABC, TutorABC, TutorABC Jr., and TutorMing. Please visit www.iTutorGroup.com for more information.

About GIC
GIC is a leading global investment firm with well over US$100 billion in assets under management.
Established in 1981 to secure the financial future of Singapore, the firm manages Singapore’s foreign reserves. A disciplined long-term value investor, GIC is uniquely positioned for investments across a wide range of asset classes, including real estate, private equity, equities and fixed income. GIC has investments in over 40 countries and has been investing in emerging markets for more than two decades. Headquartered in Singapore, GIC employs over 1,200 people across 10 offices in key financial cities worldwide. For more information on GIC, please visit www.gic.com.sg.

About Russia-China Investment Fund
Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF) is a private equity fund established to invest in unique opportunities which have appeared as a result of rapid development of economic cooperation, fast growing trade, and increasing purchasing power of the middle class in China, Russia, and other regions.

The Fund was created by China Investment Corporation (CIC) and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

RCIF is focused on cross-border transactions, as well as investment opportunities within the economic region across a broad range of sectors to facilitate both countries’ structural reforms and economic efficiency. Further information is at www.rcif.com.

About Goldman Sachs
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals.

Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world

About Silverlink Capital
The Silverlink Capital Group invests in companies with exceptional management teams, and, which embody the potential for substantial growth. In addition to significant experience in the investment communities in Asia and the US, the principals of the Group have long personal histories in commerce and industry, such histories including building and managing leading companies in Greater China, Asia, and the West. These experiences primarily lie in the technology, media and consumer sectors, so that, the Group has a particular focus on eCommerce and internet-based businesses, and, companies with a strong presence in the minds of consumers. Silverlink Capital’s financial partners are successful entreprenuers, so that, when appropriate, the overall resources of the Group represent a unique source of strategic support for companies. Because attractive investment opportunities can arise from companies both younger and more-mature, and, given the long-term commitment of the Group’s financial partners, the Group has the capability and flexibility to work with funding transactions of a wide range of sizes and structures. Silverlink Capital has a particular strength and interest in Greater China and the US, the two largest markets in the world.

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