H.E.R.O.’s Journey in Tech (25 April 2018) – China’s iTutorGroup Targets $2 Billion Valuation Ahead of IPO + What the Journals of Thomas Edison Teach Us About Productivity, Creativity, and Success


  • China’s iTutorGroup Targets $2 Billion Valuation Ahead of IPO (Bloomberg)

After leaving academia, Yang initially opened a brick-and-mortar language consultancy with his brother. It moved online when the SARS virus hit Asia, as students sought to avoid classrooms for fear of contagion. Now, Yang’s company runs a host of brands. TutorABC, vipabc, vipJr and tutorJr form the core of the business, teaching English to students in China, Taiwan and Japan. TutorMing teaches Mandarin and LiveH2H sells the company’s custom-built video conferencing software as a variety of services. ITutorGroup had more than $350 million in cash receipts last year, including sales for multiyear contracts, people with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified because the number isn’t public. Yang declined to confirm the figure, but said the startup is cash-flow positive with gross margins of 82 percent. ITutorGroup’s key challenges are keeping the quality of lessons high, doing it cheaply enough to turn a profit and fending off rivals seeking to snatch up teachers and students. Traditional schools and online rivals such as 51Talk, Dada ABC and VIPKid are all on hiring sprees. When it comes to attracting and retaining students, iTutorGroup has other ways to keep its edge. Every subscriber has 128 tags, ranging from their hobbies to the way they pay their bills. Learners in their early 20s from poorer cities with pricey packages are more likely to refund within 30 days, so they’re lavished with extra attention in the beginning. If a student complains twice, their “karma” score rises and the next lesson becomes a private session. And those who attend more than 16 lessons per month have a 90 percent renewal rate, so laggards are gently nagged to attend sessions until they hit that bar. Most people sign up for lengthy contracts; a 12-month package typically costs 16,000 yuan.

  • Map Maker Aims to Be Silicon Valley Conduit to China’s Car Market; NavInfo to help U.S. tech giants tap autonomous driving sector (Bloomberg)
  • Xiaomi’s Unusual Prep for a $100 Billion IPO: Limiting Profits (Bloomberg)
  • Nidec accelerates M&A with $1bn purchase of Whirlpool unit (Nikkei)
  • Tokyo Electron will increase profit for the sixth consecutive year. (Kabutan)
  • Tokyo’s AI startup Heroz scores record IPO gains; Japanese-chess king’s frenzied rise points to irrational exuberance in the market (Nikkei)
  • Uniqlo to double online sales ratio with help from real stores: CEO Yanai wants more locations in Asia and Europe as virtual boundary ‘vanishes’ (Nikkei)
  • Zenrin DataCom behind Game Map SDK ; Zenrin DataCom had other plans such as revenue sharing (Gamebiz)
  • Zuken to Hold “Innovation World” Event in Three Indian Cities This Year (BW)
  • Wonik QnC to invest 13.6 bln won on plant construction and Utility investment (Reuters)
  • Taiwanese e-commerce, telecom firms establish VC fund to foster startups; The VC fund will target startups in the verticals of online finance, health tech, big data and artificial intelligence (e27)
  • iPhone Maker Misses Out While Apple Investors Make 950% Return (Bloomberg)

  • Lenovo eyes making smart wearables in India, higher market share (Reuters)
  • Market leader Sage well-placed in growing accounting software market (AFR)
  • Infosys Buy Calls Mount Even as TCS Enters $100 Billion Club (Bloomberg)

BAT – Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent

  • $1 Trillion Fund Manager Ranks Tencent, Alibaba ‘Most Important’ (Bloomberg)
  • Early Backer of Alibaba Sees Trillion Dollar Value on User Data (Bloomberg)

Asia Tech & Innovation Trends

  • For China’s dating websites, pushy parents make best sales pitch (Nikkei)
  • Big Bang Means Buyer Beware in Hong Kong IPOs: There’s a wave of exciting, and riskier, companies coming. (Bloomberg)
  • China’s $1.4 Trillion Tech Gap Is Holding Its Stock Market Back (Bloomberg)

  • Chinese Ride-Hailing Giant Didi Hits Accelerator on Talks for IPO: A multibillion dollar offering for Didi Chuxing could happen as soon as this year (WSJ); Didi forms global alliance for car sharing; Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan-Renault join effort to build on-demand electric fleet (Nikkei); With D-Alliance, Didi plans to overturn car ownership and manufacturing worldwide (Technode)
  • MapmyIndia 2.0: Battling for supremacy; Indian online navigation system is changing tack and focusing on the consumer to beat Google at its own game (Forbes)
  • The company behind Jinri Toutiao is creating its own AI chips (Technode)
  • Kakao Japan ramps up manga content via smartphone app; Young artists get boost with simultaneous streaming in Japan, China, South Korea (Nikkei)
  • What’s Behind Asian Tycoons’ Growing Appetite For Tech Startups? (Forbes)
  • China Tech Giants Aren’t So Hot This Season: Stocks are down and cracks are starting to appear. (Bloomberg)
  • In ZTE Battle, U.S. Suppliers Are Collateral Damage: Several ZTE vendors watched their stock stumble since seven-year ban was announced amid trade tensions between U.S., China (WSJ)

  • Tech’s Structural Change: This could ripple through the industry, from Apple to Amazon. LG Display Co.’s first operating lossin six years came amid a decline in panel prices. Yet looking closer, we can see that LG Display has in the past managed to turn a profit even when it was selling panels for less money. In the second quarter of 2016, for example, it sold panels at an average $504 per square meter and managed to generate a 44 billion won ($41 million) operating profit. In the first quarter of this year, prices touched $522, but LG Display posted a 98 billion won operating loss. The difference comes from costs, and that shift looks structural. General expenses have ballooned, which is a line item that could be trimmed. Research and development, though, is also on the rise and is an area LG Display can’t afford to skimp on as it tries to keep up with rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. (Bloomberg)
  • Japan Wants Robots to Help Build Its Skyscrapers (Bloomberg)
  • Digital Lessons from Go-Jek, Indonesia’s Answer to Uber and Grab (Insead)
  • China Invites Foreign Cash to Build a World-Class Chip Industry (Bloomberg)

Rogue Tech

  • Crypto Billionaire Zhao Changpeng Sued by Sequoia After Funding Deal Goes Awry (Bloomberg)
  • Trek 2000 CEO, staff linked to breaches: Report (ST)
  • DeClout: Collateral, guarantee, change of control terms for S$10m loan not unusual (BT); DeClout’s group CEO setting the record straight (BT)

FAANNMG – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Nvidia, Netflix, Microsoft, Google

  • How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews (WaPo)
  • Network Effects Predict the Future of Facebook (Medium)

  • Nvidia Uses AI to Reconstruct Damaged Images (Fortune)
  • Sing It From the Mountains, the iPhone Supercycle Is Dead; Austria’s AMS is suffering from its Apple exposure, but all is not lost. (Bloomberg)
  • Amazon Starts Delivering Goods to the Trunk of Your GM or Volvo (Bloomberg)
  • Amazon.com plays catch-up in Brazil as local rivals thrive (Reuters)
  • Would we buy the whole company called Amazon or would it be obvious to us to buy the other 12 companies which fit our eight criteria for close to the same amount? (Smead)

Global Tech & Innovation Trends

  • Silicon Valley’s latest revolution: Cutting out Wall Street (Wired)
  • Silicon Valley Wants to Cash In on Fasting: Several startups are working to commercialize the tech world’s latest health craze. (Bloomberg)
  • Music streaming revenues surge and investors like the beat (Reuters)
  • The Numbers Behind WeWork’s Growing Empire (Bloomberg)
  • Why Big Tech is Plotting an Invasion of the Healthcare Market (Visual)


  • What the Journals of Thomas Edison Teach Us About Productivity, Creativity, and Success (Medium)
  • How To Be Happy In Today’s Crazy World: 3 Secrets From Research (Barker)
  • 9 Lessons From Sam Zell (Finbox)
  • How Your Daily Routine Can Turn Into Your Biggest Enemy (Ryan Holiday)
  • 10 Principles for Winning the Game of Digital Disruption (Strategy@)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *