Kobe Bryant Invests in CKGSB Alumna’s Company VIPKID
August 25, 2016

VIPKID, CKGSB MBA alumna Cindy Mi’s start-up that aims to help children in China to learn English through teachers in North America, has been backed by Bryant Stibel, which was cofounded by Kobe Bryant & Jeff Stibel. The investment in VIPKID marks Bryant Stibel’s first ever investment in education, as well as the firm’s second investment in a Chinese company following their investment in Alibaba in 2014. Mi is also a member of the CKGSB Chuang Community, which aims to help and develop leading start-ups in China.

According to a Businesswire article, Bryant first met with Cindy Mi two months ago, and it took him just five minutes to decide to invest. “Their platform is changing things.” Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. “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, nutrition.”

Commenting on the deal, Mi said, “We value Kobe’s influence in the US and around the world. With this investment, we can strengthen the bridging of resources between the US and China and further improve VIPKID’s strategic plans for international development.”

VIPKID CEO Cindy Mi (center) poses at the New York Stock Exchange with Jeff Stibel (left) and Kobe Bryant (right)

Today, with a teaching group of more than 3,000 foreign teachers from the US and Canada, more than 500,000 registered users and more than 30,000 paying users, VIPKID is gradually becoming an industry leader and global contender in the online education space.


“It only took me five minutes to decide to invest in VIPKID” – Kobe Bryant

Earlier this month on August 3, VIPKID announced a $100 million Series C round led jointly by Sequoia Capital and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital. According to VIPKID, the new funding will accelerate its plans to fuel efforts in curriculum and product development, and maintain its leading position in content, teaching standards, product experience and service quality. With the company currently hiring over 1,000 instructors a month across North America, the financing will also help grow its network of teachers. Additionally, VIPKID will also speed up the strategic development of globalizing its entire platform.

Mi’s recent success should come as no surprise.

VIPKID CEO & Co-Founder and CKGSB MBA alumna Cindy Mi

In 2000, at the age of 17, Cindy Mi and her uncle jointly set up ABC English in Beijing. ABC developed rapidly, with its annual income reached 100 million yuan by 2009, by which point it had more than 20,000 students. However, her uncle didn’t want to seek outside investment, while Cindy felt that further support was crucial for future growth, so she looked at further education options.

In 2010, after 10 years running the family-owned business, Cindy Mi became a CKGSB student in the 10th intake of the MBA program. During her MBA program, she did an exchange at the Johnson Business School at Cornell, and interned at Baidu and at independent investment bank Houlihan Lokey.  The combination of local and global experience prepared her well to start her own business, VIPKID, which Mi founded in 2013. She later joined CKGSB’s Chuang Community, a start-up incubator that was founded in 2015 by CKGSB Associate Dean Liu Jing together with five well-known CKGSB alumni.

VIPKID’s Financing Milestones:

  • Angel round: December 2013, 3 million RMB, from Innovation Works;
  • A round: October 2014, 5 million USD, from MatrixPartners China, followed by Innovation Works and Sequoia Capital.
  • B round: October 2015, 20 million USD, from Northern Light Venture Capital, MatrixPartners China, Sequoia Capital and Innovation Works.
  • C round: August 2016, $100 million, from Sequoia Capital and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital.


Founded in 2013, VIPKID’s mission is to provide the North American elementary school experience to Chinese children – all from the comfort of their home. The company’s sophisticated virtual classroom streams native English-speaking teachers into Chinese homes, linking the world through education.

CEO Cindy Mi (left) along with her VIPKID co-founders

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