Zhang Yiming is not as “energetic” as Ali

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Welcome to the wechat subscription number of “chuangshiji”: sinachungshiji
By Tan Xiaohan and long Zhiteng
Source: Alphabet list (ID: wujicaijing)
We have registered the name of “energetically education”. In fact, Alibaba’s education is worthy of the name of “energetically education”.
At the end of December last year, almost at the same time, two Unicorn companies in the online education industry announced the completion of a new round of financing. Among the investors, there were Alibaba group, which invested $300 million in Yunfeng fund and $1.6 billion in Aoban. Although Ali did not disclose the actual capital injection, it can also be seen from the fact that Ali ranked first among the investors Hands must be big.
Different from Tencent’s early investment in ape tutoring (in 2016, Tencent participated in the D + round of ape tutoring financing) and made bets in subsequent rounds of financing, for many years, Ali has not been interested in online education, which can be seen in Yu Bao’s large investment, with only $150 million of financing in 2019, which is slightly cautious about the layout of the education industry.
However, since last year, Ali’s actions in the field of education have become more frequent.
In February 2020, Bao Xiaobao launched educational resources to integrate educational resources and other resources. In March, Ali founded Taobao education department. In June, Taobao formally announced that it had entered the field of education. In the next three years, we should help over 1000 families and paying for knowledge online to get more than 100 thousand freshmen.
Before that, most of the impression of Ali’s education was related to nailing. In March 2019, nailing released the solution of “nailing the future campus”. During the epidemic period, the online education of nailing was very popular.
During the epidemic, a student took classes online through the mobile phone nail software
However, an investor who has been concerned about the education industry for a long time once told the alphabet that nailing the layout of education is more an attempt of a single business out of its own growth needs, and it is difficult to achieve the revenue target only by relying on the original business. The education industry has a vast number of users and definite demand, so we must not let go of it.
If we say that in the past, Ali’s efforts to enter education have been limited. The establishment of Taobao education and Ali’s large-scale investment in homework help show that the layout of education has become the strategy of Ali group.
An education industry veteran told the alphabet, in the past year, Taobao, Alipay, nail, Tmall spirit and other businesses from all angles into the education industry, the overall logic is to see the epidemic speed up the transformation of education online.
Also accelerated is the e-commerce and platform process of educational products. The categories of goods sold by e-commerce platform are not limited to physical goods. The ultimate goal of e-commerce platform in category expansion should be all categories above and below the line. Education products will eventually complete the e-commerce process like tourism.
Ali’s consistent idea of doing business is to centralize the scattered sand and establish a collaborative platform with Ali as the center. In the track of education, Ali still uses this train of thought. Taobao, Alipay and nails have different entry points. But one thing is the same. They are doing platforms, connecting B end producers, suppliers and C consumers to do marketing channels and trading channels.
As a platform, Ali was originally just a porter of educational products, but as a result, it lacked bargaining power in terms of product supply. To make up for the product link, it is obviously a shortcut to invest in this leading company.
The hardest way, however, is to cut corners. To cultivate another flying pig in the education track where imagination is far greater than tourism, Ali’s goal is as grand as ever, but the road may not work. Taobao has entered education for several times, but in the end, it was quiet. Tencent and Baidu, two big players with capital and traffic, also rushed in, but they all fell.
A
In June last year, Taobao Education officially announced its entry into the field of online education, but this is the third round of impact launched by Taobao on the education industry.
According to the statistics of “blackboard insight” in 2018, Alibaba’s education related businesses include Taobao education, Taobao University (mainly e-commerce education and training department), Alibaba cloud University, 1688 business school, Alibaba foreign trade college, global express University, lakeside University, cloud valley school, Damo college and ant Financial Service Technology University. From the perspective of business format, most of them are business matching businesses Among them, Taobao education is closer to the competition focus of online education industry.
The predecessor of Taobao education is Taobao students. In the middle of 2013, an internal person in charge of Taobao disclosed that Taobao will strengthen the development of education and training e-commerce, and may launch the “Taobao students” education channel. Its business model is to build a platform, take the hybrid platform model of 2B + 2c, and bring in resources such as platform parties, institutions, teachers and courses.
Before that, Taobao education products were mainly under the category of Taobao local life education and training. In 2012, it was the secondary category of Taobao, with a total annual sales of 330 million yuan, one third of which were teaching materials, the other 200 million were course sales, and the next year it was upgraded to the first category.
In mid-2015, Taobao changed its name to Taobao education, still following the previous platform strategy. The person in charge said that at that time, Taobao education had more than 50000 training institutions, and in the next year, it would help at least 10000 offline institutions transform to online ones.
Photo source: Official microblog of Taobao Education
Different from today’s online education institutions competing for K12 track, Taobao education focuses on adult education. According to the data released by Taobao in 2015, the top four sales of Taobao education courses are: Online skills training, vocational qualification examination, online guidance for primary and secondary schools, and online language training.
But in the next few years, Taobao education voice is very limited. Previously, Taobao education was part of Taobao’s user growth and innovation business, according to blackboard insight.
Until last year, the epidemic accelerated the online process of the education industry, and Taobao education became independent. In March, Taobao education business department was formally established, reporting to Jiang Fan, President of Taobao tmall, in parallel with other departments such as jukuai, Taobao industry, c2m and content e-commerce.

In the same month, tech planet reported that Ali launched a product called “help answer”, a paid Q & a platform for primary and secondary school students’ schoolwork problems. This is the first independent product launched by Ali after entering the field of online education in addition to the online education function launched by nail.
According to the “100 million freshmen plan” released by Taobao education in June, the main line of Taobao education is still the platform line.
There are generally two routes for giants to do online education: one is self-research route, such as byte beating education, pushing melon dragon English and other series products; the other is platform route, such as Taobao education. Tencent, whose layout was earlier, is walking on two legs. In addition to making platform products such as Tencent classroom, it also launched Tencent happy mouse and other self-developed products.
The above online education industry practitioners believe that education is a way of re transformation, and the investment scale is very large, but if we can complete a single breakthrough, the return will be huge. “For Ali, the platform strategy is in line with its strategic positioning.”
B
It’s also a platform strategy. Ali’s three-way columns at the education track have different entry points. Fang Yongxin, a Alibaba partner, said in an interview last February that Taobao was responsible for the role of customers and marketing in the educational track. Alipay was the tool of payment, and it was also doing the precise marketing of the entrance, and the nail was made by the educational operating system.
Ali’s expansion will not stop, and category expansion is the focus. Last year, tmall double 11 added new car and real estate categories, which have been used as training courses for the sale of service-oriented goods since the initial stage of Taobao education. Obviously, it is also the target of platform category expansion.
According to Online Economic and social statistics, online education brands such as homework help, akaso, vipkid, gaotu classroom and ape tutoring have promoted their own education products on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and pinduoduo.
Different from the starting point of Tencent and byte beat, Ali’s layout of the online education industry is full of imagination. In addition to the track itself, online education products are also the competition category of e-commerce platform. The goal of the giants is the same – to become the marketing channel and trading channel of online education products. The epidemic situation makes this track a bright card on the card table.
Huang Lei, the person in charge of Taobao education, said in an interview with 36kr before that: first, education and knowledge is a vertical category with strong cross category and horizontal characteristics, which is not absolutely separated from other categories, but can connect with Taobao and tmall entity categories; second, knowledge is a kind of very immersive and continuous learning, which can better enhance the ability of hand Taobao users in Taobao Third, knowledge categories can increase the activity of users.
An excellent platform product must have the element that the commodity library is rich enough. As mentioned above, the tiktok courses recommended by Taobao education in adult education and Taobao live home page are mostly adult training courses such as “playing the sound, doing the sideline, increasing the income easily”, and “commercial illustration zero base special training class”.
During the epidemic period, Bao Xiaobao paid more attention to the online education resources such as learning, thinking, homework and so on. Bao Xiaobao education was more inclined to the K12 track. However, at this stage, neither the Taobao education nor the Xiao Bao education has yet formed enough users’ mind. For the producers and providers of the course, Taobao education and Xiao Bao education are only one of many channels, and the platform is not closely related to them.
Just as in the field of physical goods, Taobao needs to cultivate a brand that is closely related to itself and forms a strong binding relationship. In k12 education track, Taobao also needs to find the corresponding target as soon as possible.
There are not many choices for Ali. Pan Xin, the former COO of New Oriental, mentioned in early February this year that, according to his understanding, only from the perspective of revenue scale, the top four companies in the industry should be XRS online school, ape tutoring, who to learn from and homework help, while other companies are far behind the top four.
According to the e-commerce database of “dianshubao” of ECOSOC, in 2020, there will be 111 financing cases in the online education industry, with the amount of financing reaching 54 billion yuan, about 3.6 times of that in 2019. Ape counseling and homework help account for more than 70% of the total amount of financing, and the Matthew effect of the industry has been extremely obvious.
The online education track is broad, in the growth period, and there are opportunities for structural adjustment. Only from the perspective of financial investment, with a relatively reasonable valuation and investment in a leading enterprise in the growth track, the certainty of investment success has been greatly improved.
Making a choice between ape coaching and homework help is like being in the bicycle sharing capital war. Moby or ofo always has to choose an investment. One background is that ape coaching has received several rounds of financing from Tencent.
C
However, in the education industry, the road of platform is not easy to take. The fact that Taobao students and Taobao education have failed to make waves before is a clear proof. Baidu and Tencent have also tried this route, and the short-term outcome is similar.
As a two-sided market, platform products need to promote the transformation of commodity supply on the supply side and consumer behavior on the demand side.
The early ape counseling, who to learn from, and the traditional education and training organization New Oriental all tried to take the trading platform as the main direction. But different from e-commerce, taxi, take away and other industries, the education industry, as a non-standard product, has the characteristics of high difficulty in decision-making, high cost of trial and error, and low frequency of use. As a result, there has never been a platform company in the education and training industry.
“From New Oriental, tal to who to learn from, no education company’s rise depends on its traffic advantage. If only relying on traffic, Tencent’s online education business will have improved a long time ago.” The online education industry practitioners have told the alphabet.
Different from traditional e-commerce shopping habits, online education product purchase often has a longer decision-making cycle. A report of Huatai Securities shows that education and training institutions often need multiple rounds of operation to achieve sales transformation. Therefore, content marketing based on wechat and short video platform has more advantages than traditional hard wide exposure in moving users’ minds and shaping IP.
After the public domain traffic is launched, it becomes a common means for online organizations to transform users into private domain for long-term refined operation.

Therefore, it is a problem that Taobao must solve to let users develop the purchase mentality of Taobao education. This is another reason for Taobao and homework help to achieve a strong binding relationship. Homework help, which is well-known in K12 track, can help Taobao education complete the task of educating users to a certain extent.
On the way of online education product platform, Ali has many competitors and problems. Apart from many other business competitors, the content platform side is also fighting for online education market. Kwai, byte beating has released a support plan for education entrepreneurs.
In addition, companies such as XRS, who to learn from and ape coaching are also partners of the platform, but they have the characteristics of independent app and private domain traffic system, which makes them not highly dependent on the platform. Without content supply, strong barriers cannot be established, which is why Ali needs to find a company with higher degree of certainty of cooperation to form a strong binding.
In addition to serving as a marketing and trading channel for online education companies, online sales of education products also help educational and training institutions realize online transformation. Ali and meituan will meet again. In September 2020, meituan announced a special fund of 1 billion yuan to help 100000 primary and secondary education and training institutions realize online digital transformation within three years, bringing 200 billion yuan of tuition fees.
The battle of online education platform is actually a battle between traffic and transformation efficiency. Those with abundant traffic and high transformation efficiency will get it. Internet giants have made several setbacks in this battlefield, but because of the epidemic, the supply side and demand side at both ends of the platform are quite different from those at that time.
reference material:
China K12 online large class Industry Research Report
“The logic and path of k12 education and training of Internet reconstruction” — Huatai Securities
“36 krypton interview with Huang Lei, head of Taobao Education: we are prepared to fight a big battle” — 36kr
How many departments are involved in education? 》Blackboard insight
Alibaba enters online education and launches “help answer” app
“Alibaba partner Fang Yongxin: nail to do education will gather in the B end, will not cut into the content” — science and technology innovation board daily
Opportunities and risks of online education under the influence of epidemic situation
(statement: This article only represents the author’s point of view, not Sina’s position.)