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Tag Archives: english

China’s VIPKID, which links English speakers with online learners, raises $500M at $3B+ valuation

The online language school market is continuing to heat up, and a startup that connects native English speakers with an audience of students spanning China and 35 other countries for live language tutorials, is helping fan those flames. VIPKID , based out of Beijing, today announced that it has raised $500 million in funding — a Series D+ round that values the startup at over $3 billion. That valuation was originally mentioned in  reports in April when VIPKID was still raising the money, and we have now confirmed it with sources close to the company. (We’ve reached out to the company to see if we can get more detail on that front.) This latest growth round was led by a group of investors that include both strategic and financial players: Coatue Management, Tencent, Sequoia Capital and Yunfeng Capital — Alibaba chief Jack Ma’s investment company — were all co-leads on the deal. For some context on that valuation and how it has soared in the last year, it was in August 2017 that VIPKID raised $200 million on a $1.5 billion valuation. It has now raised some $850 million in financing since being founded in 2013. The company’s size has soared in that time, too. Last year VIPKID said that it had 20,000 teachers and 200,000 paying students from 32 countries. Now those numbers are at over 40,000 teachers and 300,000 students across 35 markets. With the bulk of the latter group still coming from China — as we have written before , it’s targeting a very large group of upwardly-mobile parents in the country who are looking to improve their children’s English skills — it looks like VIPKID might be looking to ramp up targeting more markets.

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Google Home can now handle three queries at once

In November, Google Home gained the ability to multitask with added support for a feature called “multiple queries,” which allows you to combine two requests into one voice command. For example, “OK Google, turn up the volume and play music.” Now, Google Home is getting even smarter about multitasking by enabling support three requests at once. The new feature was announced on Google’s @madebyGoogle Twitter account on Monday, where users quickly discovered its limitations. Unfortunately for Google’s global customer base, multiple queries is only available in the English language for the time being, in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia. You’re not the only one who can multitask. Now Google Home can perform up to three queries at a time, so you can get more done. pic.twitter.com/7jTd97Evus — Made by Google (@madebygoogle) June 11, 2018 The feature works by combining voice queries with the word “and” in between them, to separate the different requests. Each command must also be the sort of thing Google Assistant can respond to on its own without further input or clarification. That means you can’t ask it to just “set an alarm,” you’d have to say “set an alarm for 7 AM” so it doesn’t need to ask a follow-up question. Multiple queries was first rolled out in November 2017, also with little fanfare. But it’s not the only way Google Home can multitask. In February, Google Assistant gained support for Routines, as well, which allow you to create custom workflows kicked off with a single voice command. For instance, your “I’m home” routine could turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat and play some music.

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UEFA Champions League is coming to ‘FIFA 19’

EA has been keen on telling the story of English soccer phenom Alex Hunter for a while now, but his story is about to be told from another perspective. With FIFA 19, EA is adding UEFA Champions League to the game. This move was hardly a surprise thou...

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NewsDog, a news aggregator in India which offers news in English and various regional Indian languages, has raised $50M Series C led by Tencent (Jon…

Jon Russell / TechCrunch : NewsDog, a news aggregator in India which offers news in English and various regional Indian languages, has raised $50M Series C led by Tencent   —  The growth of China's Bytedance, an ambitious $30 billion tech firm, and its highly addictive Toutiao news aggregator app has set off a search …

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Watch Alexa rap with Too Many T’s in this interactive music video

Alexa can already sing and rap , but now she’s the star of a new music video by the English rap duo Too Many T’s. The London-based rappers this week released an interactive video that lets Alexa sing along by triggering with voice commands, then pausing while she answers. The result is essentially a duet between Alexa and Too Many T’s that you can listen to at home using your own Alexa device, when played within earshot of your sound system’s speakers or some other source of audio. In the video below, Too Many T’s explain how the interactive experience works and demo it with an Echo Dot. If you don’t have an Echo device of your own, this would be the one to watch: However, if you do have an Echo or some other Alexa-powered speaker, you’ll want to play the “Home” version of the song instead. This is the version where they’ve left openings in the song for your own Echo to respond to the various triggers. To try this out for yourself, you’ll need a voice device that responds to the name “Alexa” (not “computer” or “ Amazon” if you’ve changed it). And you’ll need to set your device to U.S. English. In the video, Alexa is asked questions like, “what’s 250 million times 0.004?” and “Alexa, can you sing in auto-tune?” (She can, and it’s awesome.) And she’s told, “Alexa, high-five,” among other things. The video cleverly wraps by commanding your Alexa to play the Too Many T’s song “South City Court.” Good one, guys

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