BEIJING, Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Babytree Inc, a prominent provider of online and offline products and services for pregnancy and early childhood in China, and TAL Education Group (NYSE: XRS), a leading Chinese educational technology company, jointly announced today TAL's strategic investment in Babytree, the beginning of a large-scale collaboration that extends from pregnancy, early childhood through K-12. The unprecedented move promises to change the landscape of parenting and education in China.
The strategic investment is for the amount of approximately US$23.5 million, according to the joint communique. Detailed terms were not disclosed. Mr. Allen Huainan Wang, Babytre's Co-founder and CEO, and Mr. Bangxin Zhang, TAL's CEO, both expressed their desire to work together toward future product and service offerings that leverage the strengths of both companies in the pregnancy through K-12 education space while both companies continue their own paths of innovation and development in their respective areas.
TAL, founded in 2003 and formerly known as Xueersi in Chinese, has become a leading brand in the K-12 education market in China. Positioned as a company that "propels education with technology and the Internet," TAL has refined the learning experience after years of innovations and breakthroughs with its multi-brand development strategy. Listed under the symbol of XRS on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010, TAL became the first U.S.-listed K-12 education company in China. In 2013, it changed its Chinese name to Haoweilai, meaning "Bright Future," to reflect better clarity in its corporate positioning and culture. It set for itself the three-pronged goals of being "technology-driven, talent-friendly, and quality first": propel innovation and development through the holistic integration of technology with education; attract top talents into the education field with a work environment that emphasizes fairness, respect, retrospection, openness and sharing; offer high-quality products and services, thereby bringing value to customers and long-term capital return to shareholders.
While TAL is in the business of complementing K-12 education, Babytree, founded in March 2007, has focused its attention on building an online community platform for young parents and on research and development in pre-school early education. Since 2007, Babytree has established the Babytree.com website, the "Mika World" early education brand, several mobile apps, and smart, family-oriented, software-empowered hardware. The Babytree.com website now attracts over 80 million unique visitors each month with coverage of over 80% of all online parents whereas its mobile app "Happy Pregnancy" has become the most popular app in its space.
"After six plus years of development, Babytree has established itself as the preeminent platform and channel for products and services targeting pregnancy and early childhood. We are delighted to bring in strategic partners such as TAL that has dedicated itself to offering exceptional educational services to China. We appreciate the recognition that this TAL investment signifies to the six plus years of nonstop efforts that Babytree has made in bringing excellent products to the Chinese family," said Mr. Allen Huainan Wang, Babytree's Co-founder and CEO. He added, "This strategic investment by TAL not only in itself provides much expanded and strengthened future possibilities for Babytree, but it also points to an openness that Babytree has toward strategic collaborations. As the largest online/offline platform for community and education, Babytree is open to further collaborations with more exceptional companies. Together, we will expand the horizons of the parenting space in China."
Mr. Bangxin Zhang, TAL's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, expressed his enthusiasm for the strategic investment and collaboration, "We are very excited. With this investment, we will gain a deeper understanding of early childhood development and learning, and that will help strengthen and expand our current online course offerings for the pre-K market." Mr. Zhang continued, "Babytree has built a much talked-about online and mobile brand as well as online-to-offline subscription services around China's vast community of young parents. Our investment in this company aligns well with our vision to position TAL at the intersection of where education meets technology. It also suits our expansion strategy to date, that as we enter new verticals or geographical areas we explore online community first to understand new customers and markets."
The founding and development of Babytree stems from the needs of millions of Chinese families and the entrepreneurial dream of three fathers. The founding and sustained development of Babytree into China's leading online parenting platform is also directly attributable to the generous and whole hearted support by Matrix (China and US), SIG and CBC. Co-Founder Bo Shao, currently a partner at Matrix Partners China said, "When Allen Wang, Jonathan Sun and I founded Babytree six years ago, it was a simple online community for young parents. As it grew through internal efforts and open-minded external collaborations with partners that offered various advantages, I have witnessed Babytree develop into a leading enterprise that has opened up and expanded the market for pregnancy and early childhood. Today, we delightfully welcome TAL into this extended family. W eagerly anticipate that, in the near future, Babytree together with TAL will fulfill its mission of helping young Chinese parents, though community ahd sharing, bring up a new generation of healthy, kind, intelligent and courageous Chinese youths."
About TAL Education Group
TAL Education Group is a leading K-12 after-school tutoring services provider in China. The acronym "TAL" stands for "Tomorrow Advancing Life," which reflects our vision to promote top learning opportunities for Chinese students through both high-quality teaching and content, as well as leading edge application of technology in the education experience. TAL Education Group offers comprehensive tutoring services to students from pre-school to the twelfth grade through three flexible class formats: small classes, personalized premium services, and online courses. Our tutoring services cover the core academic subjects in China's school curriculum including mathematics, English, Chinese, physics, chemistry, and biology. The Company's learning center network includes 265 physical learning centers as of November 30, 2013, located in fifteen key cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi'an, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Suzhou and Shenyang. We also operate www.eduu.com, a leading online education platform in China. Our ADSs trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "XRS." For more information, please see http://en.100tal.com.
Babytree is the operator of a leading online parenting platform, Babytree.com, where new and prospective parents from pregnancy to pre-K gather to acquire parenting knowledge, share parenting tips, and document baby's growth via photos, videos and diaries. Babytree.com along with its mobile applications has a monthly reach of over 80 million unique visitors (new and prospective parents), and today is a leading online parenting community in China. To fulfill its mission of connecting parents and better raising the next generation, Babytree has also pioneered an online-to-offline content business with a subscription-based and monthly delivered box of multi-media content that provides timely and interactive educational experiences for the home to China's pregnancy to pre-school families. Allen Huainan Wang co-founded Babytree in 2007 with Bo Y. Shao and Jonathan Sun. For more information, please see http://www.babytree.com.
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SOURCE Babytree, Inc.