$126m investment in e-learning portal

Chief executive Eric Yang said in the media release: "There is a strong need for an education platform that teaches how people learn today.

SINGAPORE - Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings has teamed up with China's e-commerce juggernaut AliBaba Group to invest US$100 million (S$126 million) in TutorGroup, an e-learning portal.

Another investor in this second round of funding for the firm, founded in 2004, is venture capital firm Qiming Venture Partners, said a TutorGroup media release on Tuesday.

Shanghai-based Qiming first funded the firm two years ago with a US$15 million investment.

TutorGroup did not specify how much Temasek was investing out of the US$100 million. A Temasek spokesman confirmed the investment.

AliBaba was the lead investor in this round.

TutorGroup will use the funds to expand into Asia and the Americas where students want to learn Chinese.

Its Web-based language learning portal offers English to students in mainland China, Taiwan and other Asian markets.

Chief executive Eric Yang said in the media release: "There is a strong need for an education platform that teaches how people learn today.

"Students want to learn on their schedule with world-class teachers and with a technology platform that provides the best learning content, class size and pace to suit their needs."

Students sign up online for TutorGroup and pay about US$25 a class to start learning. Depending on the student's performance, he can opt for one-to-one lessons or class lessons.

The company's technology determines the learning pace for each student as well as decides the optimal class size for him.

Online learners have access to round-the-clock support.

While it is offering Chinese lessons in its next phase of growth, it continues to see good prospects in English language teaching in China.

It said that the adult English language learning sector in China is growing at 25 per cent annually and will reach more than US$21 billion by 2016.

Within China alone, TutorGroup expects sales to notch up a triple-digit annual growth rate in the years to come.

The firm brought in former China basketball star Yao Ming to help promote its expansion in China last month. Yao also appears prominently on the firm's Chinese website, billboards and television and online advertisements.

TutorGroup has a research and development team in Silicon Valley and has more than 2,000 teachers in 30 countries and students in 40 countries.

It has also hosted more than five million classroom sessions, ranging from 10 minutes to 60 minutes each.

Founded by Dr Yang and his brother Ming Yang, the company is headquartered in Shanghai with a major office in Taipei.

chngkeg@sph.com.sg


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