The ByteDance of “rich and generous” has again “attacked” its education business.
LatePost said that Yang Kang, the head of byte education hardware business, would be transferred to the business strategy office, and Yang Luyu, the first head of the business, had also left at the end of June. Before that, some media reported that the education and game businesses with ByteDance started a massive layoff, of which the education business cut about 80%. After the layoff, the team size was about 1000 people.
According to the “bullet money view”, the layoff of this major education has affected almost all business lines, and the smart hardware team of major education is one of the “hardest hit areas” of this layoff. At least 50% of the thousands of people will leave, and the next major smart learning light will not release new products.
It is obvious that the vigorous education, which was once shouldering great expectations of ByteDance in the field of education, has shown fatigue, and its bet on the development of intelligent hardware business has also fallen short of expectations.
Since the implementation of the “double reduction” policy, many education enterprises have shifted part of their focus to the intelligent education hardware business. Is it a case or a common phenomenon that the development of education is not smooth? What are the difficulties for enterprises to develop intelligent education hardware business? A personnel “cleaning” is about to start in the intelligent education hardware industry?
1. Vigorously and intelligently reduce staff by more than 50%
Objectively speaking, ByteDance once attached great importance to intelligent education hardware.
In January 2021, ByteDance announced on a small scale that the Xinshi Laboratory, which was established by the original Hammer Technology team, would be merged into the education hardware team headed by Yang Luyu, the original founder of The merged hardware team will focus on the field of education and will no longer develop nut mobile phones, TNT displays and other unrelated products.
“We are optimistic about the prospect and value of educational hardware. In order to enhance the research and development capabilities of the educational hardware team, Xinshi Laboratory will merge with the desk lamp team to form a powerful intelligent team to focus on educational hardware.” The relevant person in charge of the powerful education has said publicly.
In September of the same year, Guagualong, a brand of Vigoro Education, announced the launch of smart tablet to explore writing with smart hardware. In November, the organizational structure of ByteDance was adjusted. In the ByteDance education business, intelligent hardware became one of the four focuses.
Of course, the once highly expected smart hardware business has achieved good results. Take Dali Intelligent Learning Lamp for example, the intelligent hardware product was officially launched by Dali Education in October 2020. According to the company’s official data, by December 2021, the cumulative sales of this product had exceeded 1 million.
Vigorous education and layoffs, frustrated with smart hardware
(Picture/Powerful Education official website)
Everything looks very good, but the big smart team has not escaped the fate of layoffs after all.
In June this year, ByteDance was exposed that about 80% of the education business was laid off, and the team size was about 1000 after the layoff. At least 50% of the thousands of people in the smart hardware team of Vigorous Education will leave, and Vigorous Intelligent Learning Light will not release new products next.
The reason why Dali Intelligent Team was greatly reduced is that its intelligent hardware business development was less than expected. You should know that although the layoffs of this vigorous education have affected almost all business lines, the impact of different business lines is different, for example, the impact of career development business lines is smaller.
If you put it in the previous years, even if the development of smart hardware business is less than expected, it is very likely that the Dali Smart Team will be spared the fate of layoffs. However, the problem is that the ByteDance is showing more and more intention to go public, and the performance of teams and business lines is particularly valued.
As early as 2020, there was news that ByteDance was studying splitting Tiktok to go public in Hong Kong and negotiating listing arrangements with investment banks such as Goldman Sachs. Then in March 2021, when Zhou received funds to announce that he would leave Xiaomi and join ByteDance as CFO, there was also a heated discussion that he might put IPO on the agenda.
In April this year, ByteDance announced that Gao Zhun joined ByteDance as CFO, succeeding Zhou Shoufu; In May, according to the information on the website of the Hong Kong Companies Registry, ByteDance (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd. has been renamed Tiktok Group (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd., with the effective date of May 6, 2022.
In addition, several other companies under ByteDance also changed their names to “Tiktok”. According to Tianyan’s App search, ByteDance Co., Ltd. was renamed as Tiktok Co., Ltd; According to the national enterprise credit information publicity system, Beijing ByteDance Technology Co., Ltd. was renamed as Tiktok Information Service Co., Ltd.
With a strong intention to go public and the factors of the overall environment, cost reduction and efficiency increase naturally become particularly important for ByteDance. The development of intelligent hardware business is not as expected, and it is not difficult to understand that ByteDance are beating “knife”.
Xiao Feng, who has been engaged in the intelligent education hardware industry for a long time, said to the “Bullet Finance View” that vigorously education has not yet opened up the sales channels of intelligent hardware. For example, vigorously intelligent learning light, which not only involves online sales scenarios, but also involves all kinds of offline stores, as well as various related markets.
“From the perspective of the industry, Byte has never done any business in education hardware before, nor has it the advantage of intelligent hardware race track genes,” he added.
It should be pointed out that the difficult situation of vigorously education does not represent the entire intelligent education hardware industry.
For example, Netease Youdao, according to the financial report, the company’s revenue of intelligent hardware in the first quarter of 2022 reached 253 million yuan, up 25.25% from 202 million yuan in the same period last year. According to NetEase Youdao, the first batch of Youdao Intelligent Learning Lamps has been sold out within one month since its launch in early April 2022.
Another example is iFLYTEK. The latest data shows that the total sales of iFLYTEK’s intelligent hardware from January to February 2022 reached 83.13 million yuan, up 13.2% year on year.
2. Financing or worse?
As for the impact of layoffs in smart teams, the industry has different opinions.
“As far as I know, at present, the layoff of smart teams has little impact on peer enterprises. In addition to the well-known head or giant enterprises, there are actually many smart education hardware enterprises on the market. Every year, many players die, and many new players enter. Each company has its own business and strategic focus judgment, which is not easily affected by the layoff of peer enterprises.” Xiao Feng analyzed.
Feng Hao, an executive of an off-campus training institution, said to the “Bulletmoney View” that the massive layoff of smart teams might eliminate the idea of some new players entering the smart education hardware circuit.
Vigorous education and layoffs, frustrated with smart hardware
(Graph/photo network, based on VRF protocol)
After all, giants like ByteDance have failed to achieve good results in the intelligent education hardware industry. It is obviously not easy for new players with no obvious advantages to survive and gain a foothold in the intelligent education hardware industry.
“The layoff of smart teams may make it more difficult for peer enterprises to finance,” Feng Hao said.
You know, the smart education hardware market has been cold before. According to the open market data, there were 44 financing events in the smart education hardware market in 2021, with a small contraction in the number of financing and the overall scale of financing compared with 2020.
Now, the news of layoffs from the Powerful Smart Team is bound to make capital more cautious.
The result of the difficulty in financing is likely to be that most intelligent education hardware enterprises start to “reduce costs and increase efficiency”. Personnel contraction is the most direct and effective way to reduce costs for intelligent education hardware enterprises. At the same time, intelligent education hardware enterprises will focus more on money-making business lines, optimize and even divest loss-making business lines.
3. Where is the difficulty of intelligent hardware?
Although vigorous education can not represent all peer enterprises, its failure in intelligent hardware has also brought some industry difficulties and problems to the surface.
For example, difficulties at the content level. Unlike non-learning intelligent hardware, learning intelligent hardware has an important part – content in addition to the necessary hardware and AI algorithm. “After all, what students learn is the content embedded in intelligent hardware.” Xia Xia, the sales director of Netease Youdao’s intelligent learning hardware products, said to “Bullets Finance View”.
As we all know, the versions of textbooks used by different regions and even different schools are different. If smart education hardware is to be sold nationwide, it requires enterprises to create personalized and diversified content to meet the needs of students in different regions and even different schools.
The content of intelligent hardware is divided into teaching material content and value-added content. “Textbooks are important, but after all, every student has them originally. They are no more than electronic or paper versions. Whether someone will tell you the difference, but how to improve students’ learning performance, value-added content is particularly important.” Xia said.
Whether the content embedded in the intelligent hardware is reasonable, whether the methods provided are effective, and whether the students’ real demands can be judged clearly need a lot of accumulation.
In addition to doing well in content, intelligent education hardware enterprises also need to have a certain ability to advance funds.
The traditional model of teaching and training is usually that institutions can enroll students after preparing courses and teachers, and then arrange teachers to attend classes after students have paid tuition in advance. However, before intelligent education hardware products are delivered to users, enterprises need to pre-produce a batch of intelligent education hardware products.
“For example, if you plan to sell 100000 intelligent learning lamps, you should at least let the factory stock thousands or even tens of thousands of them in advance, and the pre-production of these products, together with the user research, content research and development and product design in the early stage, is actually a huge cost.” Feng Hao analyzed.
It is difficult to recover the cost in a short time. Feng Hao said that for big players with strong strength, the challenges are not too big. However, for some enterprises without established channels and user markets, the challenge of developing intelligent education hardware business is huge.
Summer also expressed a similar view. For players like Youdao who have strong strength or good reputation in the industry, they do not need to advance all the funds. After all, many cooperative factories are willing to share some risks because of their high trust and confidence in the final sales volume of brand merchants.
“For example, some factories can prepare materials for the brand merchants in advance, and when the goods are delivered, the brand merchants will pay the factory. Even some intelligent hardware products are distributed by distributors to the brand merchants first, and then the brand merchants will pay the upstream suppliers.” Xia Xia said.
However, for many new players, their credit in the industry is usually not high, and it is difficult to persuade partners to share risks. “And if the brand merchants want more orders, the factory will not accept them. After all, if the brand merchants fall down, the factory may have no way to ask for debt.” Summer analysis.
In addition, intelligent education hardware enterprises also need to have strong channel capabilities. According to Feng Hao, the traditional education hardware manufacturers represented by Bubugao have penetrated their offline terminal sales outlets into counties and even towns, and have built a relatively complete distribution agent system.
In contrast, Netease Youdao, iFLYTEK and other latecomers are much weaker in the layout of offline channels. “They mainly sell intelligent hardware products through online e-commerce platforms,” said Feng Hao.
Once the pre-produced intelligent hardware products cannot be sold, they will become inventory, which is a direct pressure on the enterprise, and the inventory will be impaired after a period of time, because the inventory products that exceed the time must be processed at a low price.
Netease Youdao gave its solution to this problem. Xia Xia mentioned that the logic of NetEase’s channel construction is that where consumers usually buy intelligent education hardware products, the company will go to these places to make corresponding coverage. At the same time, the company will also expand the offline market by setting up provincial and municipal agents.
“We will reach consumers in a flexible way, such as some online orders placed by the epidemic, and we will let local offline dealers deliver them, because this is more efficient,” Xia said.
Of course, intelligent education hardware enterprises also need to think about “how to further reduce the purchase threshold of consumers”. In Feng Hao’s view, the current pricing of intelligent education hardware products on the market is generally high, with the approximate price range ranging from thousands of yuan to tens of thousands of yuan, which to some extent restricts the promotion of intelligent hardware products.
Vigorous education and layoffs, frustrated with smart hardware
In addition, intelligent education hardware enterprises need to think about “how to improve students’ learning initiative”.
As we all know, the sense of gain is the reason why children love learning. Learning is essentially an activity of finding and solving problems, so real learning should be carried out by learners themselves. However, all kinds of intelligent education hardware mainly do the work output to children, and will continue to eliminate such learning process. In the long run, children’s willingness and ability to learn actively will decline.
Netease Youdao doesn’t seem to be worried about this. In summer, take Youdao Intelligent Learning Lamp as an example, the learning lamp will set 3-5 small tasks for children every day, and children will receive corresponding rewards for completing the set tasks on the same day.
For example, there is an AI learning machine. Students can do several questions, and the learning machine can roughly determine which knowledge point of the student is weak, and improve the weak part of the student. After he overcomes the weak point, he can give positive feedback, and the whole learning process is recorded and traceable.
“We will try our best to reduce the pain of children in the normal learning process, but let them enjoy the fun and convenience of learning more, and finally form the habit of active learning,” Xia said.
4. Conclusion
The transformation of K12 institutions, the accelerated layout of Internet technology giants, and the vigorous counterattack of traditional hardware manufacturers have all made the original “tepid” intelligent education hardware circuit suddenly become lively.
However, through the layoff action of ByteDance, people can see that there are many problems in the intelligent education hardware industry for a long time, which also rings an alarm for peers. What new measures will be taken by Vigorous Education after this adjustment, and people inside and outside the industry are paying attention to.
Although the intelligent education hardware circuit has broad prospects, it does not mean that any player can get a share of the game. It can be predicted that with speculative psychology, irrational blind entrants will eventually leave the market in a gloomy mood.