International Instruction

Kobe Bryant Invests in Chinese Educational Company

Kobe Bryant, left, at a promotion event in Guangzhou, China.

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Retired Lakers basketball guard Kobe Bryant and his venture capital firm are investing in Vipkid, an online education platform for children in China to learn from teachers in North America.

Bryant Stibel is a $100 million fund that just went public on the NYSE on Monday. Entrepreneur Jeff Stibel is Bryant’s business partner. The investment in Vipkid marks Bryant Stibel’s first investment in education, as well as the firm’s second investment in a Chinese company, following its first investment in Alibaba in 2014.

Two months ago, Bryant met with Vipkid, a company that aims to give children in China a virtual North American elementary school experience. He said it took only five minutes of listening to decide he wanted to invest.

“Their platform is changing things,” he told the Los Angeles Times Monday. “It’s a no-brainer for me. We have to look for companies adding value to society, helping kids learn and grow whether through education [or] nutrition.”

The new funding will accelerate Vipkid’s plans to fuel efforts in curriculum and product development, and maintain its position in content, teaching standards, product experience and service quality, according to a news release. As the company is currently hiring more than 1,000 instructors a month across North America, the financing will also help grow its network of teachers. In addition, Vipkid will speed up the strategic development of globalizing its entire platform.

“We value Kobe’s influence in the U.S. and around the world,” said Cindy Wenjuan Mi, founder and CEO of Vipkid, in a prepared statement. “With this investment, we can strengthen the bridging of resources between the U.S. and China and further improve Vipkid’s strategic plans for international development.”

Founded in 2013, Vipkid’s mission is to provide the North American elementary school experience to Chinese children between ages 5 and 12, all from their homes. Headquartered in Beijing, the company offers fully immersive one-on-one English language instruction provided online by North American teachers.

Curriculum is aligned to American Common Core state standards and uses a flipped classroom approach to foster creativity and critical thinking skills, according to the news release. To date, Vipkid has more than half a million registered users, the company said.

For more information, visit Vipkid’s website.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].