Zhang Yiming, the 38-year-old founder of ByteDance, donated 500 million yuan to his hometown of Longyan, in Fujian Province. This is his latest donation amid government scrutiny of the education sector, the Longyan Education Bureau announced on Tuesday.
In September last year, Zhang Yiming donated 10 million yuan to Yongding No.1 Middle School – which he attended as a pupil – for the construction of science and technology art galleries and teaching buildings. In October 2019, Zhang Yiming had already donated 100 million yuan to his Alma Mater Nankai University to set up an eponymous Innovation Fund. In addition, he provided 10 million yuan to the Nankai Talent Cultivation Fund to build a high-level faculty team and improve their training programs.
The 500 million yuan donation will serve to set up the Fangmei Education Development Fund, which aims at improving local education quality and cultivating talents. The name of the fund “Fangmei” is taken from the names of Zhang Yiming’s grandmothers.
The fund will be mainly used to assist teachers in the city for further training, support the innovation and development of vocational education, improve informatization teaching ability, set up scholarships, and subsidize infrastructure such as student dormitory buildings.
With China strengthening supervision of the technology industry, Wang Xing, the founder of Meituan, the food and beverage take-out giant, donated more than $2 billion worth of company shares to his charitable foundation in early June, Bloomberg reported.
On May 20 this year, Zhang Yiming announced he will step down as CEO of ByteDance. In an internal letter he argued: “ByteDance has made some progress in social responsibility and public welfare. We work continuously to develop new projects in fields including education public welfare, brain diseases, digitalization of ancient books, where I personally have engaged. I still hold many ideas, and hope to participate more deeply.”
ByteDance revenue in 2020 totaled US $34.3 billion, up 111% year-on-year, CNBC reported. During Zhang Yiming’s tenure as CEO, the firm invested heavily in education. In May 2018, they launched GoGoKid, an online 1-to-1 learning platform for children aged 4-12. In May, 2019, ByteDance acquired Qingbei Online School, entering the field of live streaming classes with famous K12 teachers.
Thanks to the epidemic in 2020, the demand for online teachers has been increasing. In March, ByteDance announced that there was no ceiling on the salary of teachers in the Qingbei Online School, and the number of recruits in the education business line expanded to 10,000. Since then, Guagualong English, an English enlightenment product, has been launched, and Guagualong Thinking and Guagualong Chinese have been introduced. In October, ByteDance released a new education brand – “Vigorous Education” – to manage all of its educational products and businesses. Chen Lin, the former head of education business, is the CEO of Vigorous Education.