Internet tech giant ByteDance on Oct. 29 unveiled its a smart lamp priced at 799 yuan ($119) for the education sector as well as announced the new education brand Dali as part of its plan to diversify its businesses.
With an AI-based camera and screen, the device helps parents make video calls with their kids to help them with their school assignments. Kids can also consult the AI explainer for math problems and learn from the display screen.
Chen Lin, the Chief Executive of Dali, mentioned in the press conference that the education business of ByteDance currently has 10,000 employees. The 8-year-old tech company’s main source of profit comes from its viral short video platform Douyin and news and information content platform Jinri Toutiao (also known as Toutiao.) Hence, Chen Lin said in July this year that the education unit of the company isn’t expected to be profitable for the next three years.
It is not hard to explain why the tech unicorn further expanded its business to education technology (edtech) Due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, online education business in China saw a robust boom. On April 28 this year, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) released the 45th Statistical Report on Internet Development in China, which showed the number of online education users in China reached 423 million as of March 2020, witnessing an increase of 222 million compared to the end of 2018 and accounting for 46.8% of all Chinese netizens.
However, ByteDance is not among the first to enter the market. Industry leaders including Tencent-backed Yuanfudao and Baidu-supported Zuoyebang were all established years before Dali. Founded in 2012, Yuanfudao recently raised $2.2 billion in its latest round of financing and refreshed its valuation to approximately $15.5 billion.
But standing as one of China’s biggest tech unicorns, ByteDance has its own advantages. Despite a slightly late entry to the edtech arena in 2016, the company owns a wide coverage of education services. In 2018, ByteDance established the one-on-one online English teaching platform Gogokid. Then in 2019 it acquired Qingbei, the online platform aimed at K-12 learners as well as Open Language whose emphasis lies in teaching adults intercultural skills and English-speaking abilities via pre-recorded lectures.
“The brand independence of Dali Education is just the beginning of a long journey in the industry,” said Zhang Yiming, founder of ByteDance.