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Xueda Education

xueda.com

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Acq - P2P | Acquired

About Xueda Education

Xueda Education is a China-based company that provides personalized tutoring services for elementary and middle school students.

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No. 4, Lijia, Hebei, Xiba Chaoyang District

Beijing, Beijing, 100028,

China

+86(10)64278899

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The cry-laughing emoji has absolutely earned this

Dec 4, 2021

The cry-laughing emoji has absolutely earned this Is it always sincere or even trendy? No. Does it serve its purpose? Absolutely. The laugh-cry emoji has provided us with a codified process for indicating that we are all having a fun time here. Photo: atomicstudio via Getty Images December 4, 2021 In a stunning victory for the rights of people who find out about TikToks via Instagram Reels and have fond memories of Warped tour, the cry-laughing emoji has once again emerged from the fray as the most-used emoji of the year, according to data from the Unicode Consortium. The tearful grin, whose Christian name is “Face with Tears of Joy,” hasn’t relinquished its stranglehold on the top spot since 2015, when we as a nation were reeling from Zayn Malik’s One Direction exit, marveling at the Sisyphean efforts of pizza rat and becoming slowly numb to Uptown Funk. That was the same year that the teary-eyed grin was named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. This is the second year that the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization tasked with digitizing language, has released data (the first was in 2019). Other emojis in the top 10 include the red heart, sobbing face, face with heart eyes and Old Faithful, the venerable smiley face ????. The Consortium notes that many of the most-used emojis’ placements have stayed consistent from its 2019 data, although the pleading face emoji (????) did make a noticeable leap from 97 to 14. Image: Unicode If you pride yourself on knowing what the kids are into these days, you might be surprised to learn of laugh-cry’s continued supremacy after so many outlets diagnosed it with terminal cringe. Even as early as 2013, Complex’s Brenden Gallagher stated he wouldn’t be surprised if it went the way of the kissy face emoji, predicting that it would tumble into obscurity after reaching a state of what he called “complete saturation.” (The kissy face emoji, by the way, has crawled its way back to the top 10.) Instead, the opposite happened, and two years later laugh-cry would usurp the red heart at the top of the digital emotion hierarchy. If you go to the real-time Twitter emoji tracker (be warned; it’s jarring), you’ll see ???? continuously adding to its billions of appearances, each flash indicating a new content aggregator carefully scraping the watermark off of a meme just to demand “Who did this?? !” or a “The Office” fan account remembering the good ol’ days with a well-timed gif of Mindy Kaling. There’s a cynical read on the laugh face emoji; that it’s become joyless, it’s outdated, it’s lost all meaning as anything other than a compulsory response, the way “lol” did when we as a species acknowledged that nobody was ever really laughing out loud. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch told CNN that the emoji was a “victim of its own success,” and that through the constant repetition, “it starts to feel insincere.” An even darker sentiment is that the laugh-cry emoji has become loaded with a sense of “callous disregard” for others’ misfortune, as Guardian writer Abi Wilkinson expressed in 2016. From the beginning, emojis have sought to fix an inevitable flaw in digital communication — the need to compensate for all the nonverbal cues we’ve evolved to perceive and respond to. A text message reading “Dylan called my dog ugly,” for instance, can seek entirely different responses depending on whether it’s followed by a ????, a ???? or, yes, a ????. This has only been exacerbated as we’ve lost so much of the real-life context, in the form of water cooler discussions and afternoon coffees and unannounced pop-bys, that in pre-COVID could cushion and buffet our digital interactions. It’s not surprising that all 10 of the top-used emojis are faces, emotions or gestures — the pandemic saw the prayer hands emoji jump up in use by 25% between August of 2019 and April of 2020. We ran out of words to discuss unprecedented times, and emojis helped shoulder the burden. And this has been true in the professional sphere as well as the personal one. As communications company 8x8’s formerCEO Vik Verma told Forbes , “Emojis help employees communicate more effectively with each other. They can indicate tone that might otherwise be misconstrued and can boost credibility.” Of the many, many young people who have been consulted on the passé nature of the laugh-cry emoji, several stated that their main use case for it was in professional settings, while conversing or connecting with their (often older) colleagues. “I usually only use it when talking to 25+ year-olds on my work’s Slack,” a 23-year-old source named Selina told Vice. While this sentiment was shared by Selina and others with a sense of resignation at having to comply with a sort of verbal dress code to communicate with bosses and colleagues, this is where the true beauty of laugh-cry emoji lies. In conversations in the workplace, or with casual acquaintances, isn’t there a major utility to having a button to press that conveys “I am having fun and I am enjoying our interaction”? I will press that button all day long, and I will mean it. The laugh-cry emoji has provided us with a codified process for indicating that we are all having a fun time here, and as someone who has yet to meet the majority of my co-workers face-to-face, this is a lifeline I couldn’t appreciate more. I have a visceral memory of standing in an office and laughing along to my three bosses’ extended riffs on “Glengarry Glen Ross,” a movie I have never seen, and that experience now has a digital equivalent in the laugh-cry emoji. I understand how either could be considered an obligation, something to be undertaken with an internal eye roll, but they also serve as a shorthand for connection, engagement and appreciation, and one that saves me from having to figure out how to type out some convincing iteration of “I am at ease!” on a regular basis. In a world that has the potential to become ever more cold and digital as more of our real-world interactions start to live inside our screens, we can’t afford to scoff when we are offered easy chances to convey happiness and positivity, even if those means can edge into the land of the cliché or imprecise. I don’t care if I am hauled away by the cheugy cops to cringe jail for saying so — as long as ???? exists, my co-workers will never have to worry whether their jokes landed and my parents will know I appreciated the Facebook video they tagged me in. X SOURCE CODE Want your finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in tech? Sign up to get Protocol's daily newsletter. Email Address Source Code Thank you for signing up. Please check your inbox to verify your email. Email me an authentication link A login link has been emailed to you - please check your inbox. An initial proposal raised alarm bells with civil society groups and other U.S. government agencies alike. Photo: Joe Daniel Price/Getty Images December 4, 2021 Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky ) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. December 4, 2021 The White House is set to announce plans this week for its much-anticipated Alliance for the Future of the Internet, a bid to rally a coalition of democracies around a vision for an open and free web. But behind the scenes, digital rights advocates, foreign governments and even other U.S. officials have spent the last month scrambling to push the White House to rethink its initial plans, leaving the fine points of the proposal in flux with days to go before the big reveal. According to a draft proposal leaked to POLITICO last month, the alliance was originally conceived as a group of “like-minded countries” making a set of specific commitments to “promote a new and better vision of an open, trusted, and secure internet.” That includes commitments in areas related to cybersecurity, privacy and data transfers, among other things. The idea for the alliance was spearheaded by Peter Harrell, senior director for international economics and competitiveness on the National Security Council, and Tim Wu , a prominent tech critic and current special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy. It was timed to launch “on the margins” of the Summit for Democracy, which kicks off Thursday and will gather leaders from more than 100 countries to discuss how to stop the spread of authoritarianism around the world. Despite the planners’ good intentions, the initial proposal raised alarm bells with civil society groups and other U.S. government agencies alike. They argued it was sidelining existing forums dedicated to internet freedom and was being rushed out without thorough vetting from government agencies and civil society, leading to policy suggestions that risked undermining the alliance’s own goals. Several people involved in these discussions described a confused game of telephone among foreign governments, NGOs and other U.S. agencies about what exactly the White House had planned. “There’s disagreement within the U.S. government on whether the interagency process was completed before the White House went to other governments to discuss this,” said a U.S. government official familiar with the process. “It was clear that the process by which this idea was generated and was being discussed was not a normal one in the way I understand U.S. government policy formation to normally operate,” said Jason Pielemeier, a former special adviser at the State Department and now deputy director of the Global Network Initiative, a coalition of tech companies and civil society groups focused on free expression online. Pielemeier convened one of the Biden administration’s briefings on the alliance over the last month and attended another, but left with lingering concerns about both the process through which the idea was coming together and the specific policies being proposed. Shortly before Thanksgiving, he and other digital rights advocates sent a letter to Wu and Harrell saying as much. After Protocol asked the White House to comment on these concerns, Pielemeier received a response asking to convene the groups behind the memo, “which is good news,” he said. A senior administration official emphasized that the proposal for the alliance is the beginning, not the end of the conversation. “We’ve been thinking about this as a high-level set of principles that will help frame a bunch of discussions we hope to have, including with a wide range of outside stakeholders in the coming months, over the first part of next year,” the official said. “The time is ripe for governments and other actors to come together and reaffirm our vision for the internet.” This official declined to confirm any details of the proposal for the alliance or its launch date and denied that the idea for the alliance skipped the usual processes. Instead, the official said it went through a “wide interagency discussion and clearance process before sharing anything internationally.” The official said the White House had been in talks with certain governments “for some time,” but acknowledged that others have only received drafts of the document recently. Protocol spoke with eight people involved in the development of the alliance — both inside and outside of the government —and reviewed parts of a more recent version of the White House’s proposal, to find out how the idea for the alliance has evolved over time — and where it's headed next. ‘A no-China club’ The early proposal for the alliance — marked as being for “discussion purposes only” — began making the rounds shortly before it was leaked to POLITICO and immediately drew concern from would-be champions of internet freedom initiatives. It contained a list of potential commitments that member countries in the alliance would have to make, including a pledge “to use only trustworthy providers” in core internet infrastructure — a stipulation that freaked out some digital rights advocates and called to mind the “ clean network ” initiative that began under the Trump administration. Peter Harrell, senior director for international economics and competitiveness on the National Security Council, helped spearhead the idea of the alliance. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images “There’s no way to read that as something other than a no-China club,” said Graham Webster, editor-in-chief of the DigiChina Project at the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center. “It’s not subtle who they’re talking about.” Asking governments around the world to root out any internet infrastructure made by Chinese companies like Huawei as a barrier to entry into the alliance struck Pielemeier, Webster and others as unfeasible for less prosperous regions and as a requirement that would limit the pool of participating countries. They also worried that the idea underpinning such a request runs counter to the human rights values that digital rights advocates have been supporting for decades. “There is a risk — and I don’t know that this is the intent behind the alliance — that it becomes a club where, if you’re a member of the club, the people of your country have rights online and they use this internet, and the people in authoritarian countries use that other net over there,” said Emma Llansó, director of the Free Expression Project at the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology, which was also briefed. “We’re ceding whole swaths of people and the protection of their rights to governments that have shown they don’t care.” The senior administration official said the U.S. doesn’t “encourage any splintering of the internet” and, in fact, wants the alliance to push back against internet fragmentation, but views that issue as distinct from focusing on trusted networks. “That, to us, is not splintering the internet,” the official said. Advocates also noted early on that the proposal lacked the kind of attention they would have expected to see paid to basic human rights issues, like censorship and the increased pressures on tech companies to help state actors silence dissidents. “The lack of the word ‘censorship’ was a pretty big miss on their part,” said David Kaye, a professor at UC Irvine School of Law and former United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Kaye, who also took part in the briefings, chairs the Global Network Initiative. Both Kaye and Llansó noted the recent example of Russia forcing Apple and Google to remove an app from their app stores tied to opposition leader Alexei Navalny as a prime example of where U.S. leadership is needed. Both companies yielded to Russia’s request, reportedly over fears that their own local employees could be held criminally liable for refusing. Other countries, including India, have similar laws on the books. “If we don’t mention or focus on and prioritize those really fundamental human rights issues, it can inadvertently send a message that those concerns are not prioritized for the government,” Llansó said. The more recent proposal reviewed by Protocol includes more detail on human rights, calling on members to, among other things, reaffirm the right to freedom of expression without fear of censorship, harassment or intimidation. The senior administration official said basic human rights and freedoms have been “core to any affirmative vision of the internet” from the beginning. Race to the summit In addition to concerns about the specific policies being proposed, some critics were alarmed by what they believed was a rushed timeline for such a large undertaking. “In some ways a summit is really, really useful, because it does create a deadline to get something done,” said Graham Brookie, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and a former White House National Security Council staffer who has been briefed on the alliance. “On the other hand, sometimes they create false deadlines where it’s like, ‘Oh shit, what are we going to say at this summit?’” According to the draft that leaked to POLITICO, the timeline for the alliance was to begin in September of this year with a “core drafting group” of countries, followed by outreach to a broader pool of potential members in October and November, consultations with NGOs and industry groups in November and a launch in December on the margins of the summit. That launch would then kick off a “year of action” during which the members and others would develop their commitments and turn them into a charter. Both the abbreviated timeline and the outside-in approach struck Pielemeier as unusual, given his time in government. “It seemed like this was very much an idea that came out of the White House and was being shared selectively with a range of outside governments and other actors that had not been through the formal interagency government deliberation process that would normally be associated with this kind of very high-profile, potentially direction-shifting policy approach,” Pielemeier said. Experts outside of government also bristled at what they viewed as the White House taking a primarily multilateral approach — meaning, government-to-government — rather than roping in other stakeholders early on. “Russia and China use the language of multilateral approaches to internet governance,” Kaye said. Tim Wu, who also spearheaded the alliance, is a prominent tech critic and special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy. Photo: New America/Flickr The draft proposal read to some in the field as an effort to duplicate the work that civil society groups and governments have already been undertaking for years inside forums like the Freedom Online Coalition, which includes 34 countries and has ties to tech. Most everyone who spoke with Protocol said that those groups could certainly use renewed focus and attention. But to replicate their work or structure would risk wasting limited time and resources. “People get tired out, and the more they’re dispersed, the less effect they have and the less power they have,” Kaye said. During the Freedom Online Coalition’s ministerial meeting Friday, former Dutch foreign affairs minister Uri Rosenthal, who co-founded the group, urged the White House to consider its work as it presses forward with its own alliance. “There is this initiative on the part of some people in the White House, as far as I understand, for an Alliance for the Future of the Internet,” Rosenthal said. “For me personally, it's important that this sort of initiative should be grounded on and respect the multi-stakeholder model, as it has been continuously cherished by the [Freedom Online Coalition].” The revised vision statement reviewed by Protocol answers this criticism by calling on members to refrain from undermining multi-stakeholder approaches. The senior administration official said that in some parts of the world “the multi-stakeholder form of governance for the internet has been under challenge,” and that affirming support for that process “rightfully would be an important piece” of the alliance. A work in progress Of course, there’s a counterargument to make about the forums that already exist to prevent authoritarian regimes from abusing the internet: They haven’t managed to prevent authoritarian regimes from abusing the internet. Of the 850 internet shutdowns tracked in a recent report by Access Now and Alphabet offshoot Jigsaw, 90% occurred in the last five years. And countries around the world are increasingly imposing laws that require tech companies to do their bidding. Even despite these troubling trends, Pielemeier argued it would be wrong to disregard what groups, individuals and companies working on these issues have learned. “Without the efforts of many of the organizations and individuals represented in this letter and this feedback, the situation would undoubtedly be much worse than it has been,” he said. “To the extent we have collectively underachieved in our fight against authoritarian encroachment on the internet, it’s primarily democratic governments responsible for that.” Not everyone was dissatisfied with the Biden administration’s early approach to the alliance. The Information Technology Industry Council, a lobbying group that represents all of the U.S. tech giants, also submitted input on the summit and the development of the alliance. In a prepared document, ITI wrote that it was broadly supportive of the ideas being proposed at the summit. It specifically advocated for a commitment to “Data Free Flow with Trust,” a well-known policy framework for sharing data between governments, which was not mentioned in the first draft proposal for the alliance but did appear in the more recent version. “As the U.S. Government develops an Alliance for the Future of the Internet, industry seeks to constructively inform a focus on promoting open, non-discriminatory policies based on rigorous, objective criteria with proportionate and well-justified obligations accompanied by appropriate due process guarantees for businesses and individuals,” ITI wrote in its preliminary input. The administration official said there’s been “growing interest” in this framework, which was first proposed by the Japanese. Amazon, Meta and Google, all members of ITI, declined to comment on whether they’d been consulted on the alliance. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the company has been part of these conversations. “As countries around the world gear up for the summit, it is imperative that they prioritize multilateral efforts, including accountability structures, aimed at securing the free and open internet,” Lauren Culbertson, head of U.S. public policy at Twitter, said in a statement. “Industry should be a core partner in these efforts, as companies like ours play a role in protecting basic human rights, including freedom of expression.” Both Kaye and Pielemeier said they believe the White House has evolved its ambitions based on the feedback it’s received, aiming to unveil an articulation of guiding principles for democratic countries’ use of the internet, rather than a formal alliance backed by formal commitments. Kaye said the lack of inclusion of civil society groups was more of an oversight than an intentional decision. “I am sensing that at least some in the administration see that they should have involved civil society much earlier in helping articulate those commitments,” he said. “I have a sense that they understand the need to involve civil society — and not just American NGOs — more fully as a key stakeholder and participant, not just in an afterthought, consultative sort of role.” With days to go before the alliance is set to be announced, exact details about what ideas will stay and what ideas will go remain fluid. Both the senior administration official and other people who spoke with Protocol said they hope the ultimate vision statement represents not a finished product, but an agenda for further discussion over the coming year. That may sound like an incremental goal, given the urgency of the issue, but it’s that very urgency that makes it especially important that whatever this alliance becomes isn’t set up for failure. “There’s this sense that there’s this limited opportunity to shape something before it becomes a coordinating mechanism across allies and partners for the future of the internet,” Brookie said, “literally.” A MESSAGE FROM PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL Bob Schukai is Executive Vice President of Technology Development, New Digital Infrastructure & Fintech at Mastercard, where he leadsthe technical design, execution and support of innovative open banking and fintech solutions, as well as next generation technologies to support global payment and data capabilities.Prior to Mastercard, Schukai’s work focused on cognitive computing, financial technology, blockchain, user experience and digital identity.He is also a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers. November 18, 2021 The fintech developers who made mobile banking as routine as texting or online shopping aren't done. The next frontier for innovation is open banking – fintech builders are enabling consumers to be at the center of where and how their data is used to provide the services they want and need. Most people don't even realize they're using open banking services today. If they connected their investment and banking accounts in a personal financial management solution or app, they're using open banking. Perhaps they've seen ads about how they can improve their credit score by uploading pay stubs or utility records to that same app – this is also powered by open banking. While everyday consumers may not realize they're using open banking services, they do need to realize that they're sharing their information in exchange for being able to access more innovative services. The key to driving this innovation is supporting consumer control through responsible use of their data. Innovation is only impactful when it's also protective Open banking offers developers at fintech companies large and small the opportunity to build data-centric solutions that help solve real-world problems. Consumers can now use their data for their own benefit, and there's enormous potential in this space. That's why we've made important investments at Mastercard, including the acquisition of Finicity , a leading U.S. open banking aggregator providing banking connectivity and open banking services. Fincity enables consumer solutions like Rocket Mortgage's loan application process and uses APIs to verify account details across thousands of connections. Mastercard recently announced the acquisition of Denmark-based Aiia which has a similar suite of developer services to connect to banks across Europe through a single API. Strong connectivity is important; however we also know that handling people's data is an enormous responsibility. We have an obligation to keep our customers' data secure and we set out four simple principles for the use of data. Consumers own the data they produce every day — and have the right to understand and control how it is shared and used. Ultimately, consumer data should be used to make their lives easier. We've only just begun to scratch the surface of open banking innovation, but it's beginning to gain traction around the globe. As consumer expectations, technology and the competitive landscape evolve, it will be critical to increase data sources and data quality as well as deepen data intelligence and analytics to better serve consumers and changing needs. If you are building a fintech that is innovating with consumer data, it's critical to clearly outline a set of privacy standards and data management practices up front. Protect that data using an appropriate set of privacy-enhancing technologies to back your claims. Treat the data of your users as if it was your own. Putting privacy and data responsibility first As developers, we have an obligation to design solutions that respect an individual's right to privacy and maintain data responsibility up front. This also creates a competitive advantage: Responsible use of data built into the foundations of our products will help us attract investors, grow market share and scale responsibly from the outset. One tactic fintech innovators should consider is leveraging Privacy Enhancing Technologies, lovingly referred to as "PETs." We began our work with PETs in 2018 with Trūata , a company specializing in PETs for privacy risk assessment, de-identification and true anonymization of data. At their core, PETs are technologies that leverage federated learning, cryptography, synthetic data and core data protection to minimize risk during data usage. Data masking is one example of a PET where, for example, sensitive information is removed or obfuscated from general access. Another common technique is differential privacy, where a controlled injection of noise is inserted into a data set in order to prevent unique identification about an individual. One of the more groundbreaking PETs is homomorphic encryption. This technique was described in a white paper written by Craig Gentry as a Ph.D. thesis in 2009 but has only become commercially viable in the last couple of years. Mastercard invested in the series A round of Enveil , a company focused on homomorphic encryption, after working with it as part of the Start Path startup engagement program. We found its technology to be game changing and commercially ready. In a nutshell, homomorphic encryption enables one party to perform search and analytics on encrypted data without decrypting it first. It's a technique that is particularly useful when you want to query a sensitive remote dataset without moving data. This is a common attack vector where breaches occur – through the movement of data from point A to point B via man-in-the-middle attacks or similar. Rather than move that sensitive data, homomorphic encryption allows you to formulate an encrypted query (for example, is "information X" in your database or not) and return an encrypted answer (for example: yes or no) without revealing the content of the query and the response. While there are many good resources available through an internet search on the topic of PETs, the adoption guide produced by the UK's Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is an ongoing, living reference worth reading. There will continue to be innovations impacting PETs and data sharing, and the next frontier is validating identity – proving who you are, whether you are interacting in person, online or in-app. Digital identity is a foundational component of Mastercard's multi-layered approach to security with implications for open banking and beyond. With digital identity, we believe there should be no trade-off between convenience and security, with users in control of their identity data. Through our acquisition of identity verification leader Ekata – which helps our customers make more informed decisions through unique scores, data attributes and risk indicators – we are advancing our identity capabilities to create safe, seamless ways for consumers to prove that they are who they say they are. In the new digital economy, it's imperative that companies in the business of data set out and follow clear privacy standards and data management practices — and live up to their commitment by continually investing in technology that keeps consumers' data secure. As part of our investment in what's next, we're always expanding the Mastercard Developers portfolio of programs and tools to help fintech developers easily, quickly and, above all, responsibly turn bold ideas into realities. That's why we recently added a new Start Path program specifically focused on open banking and open finance. Interested fintech builders can apply here for the program, which includes everything from API and exclusive sandboxes to data responsibility expertise and connections to Mastercard's global customer network to co-innovate. Keep ReadingShow less The sentencing of China’s largest volunteer subtitle group is a warning message to fans of pirated material. Two major Chinese video platforms attended a press conference of the action against copyright violations in Beijing on Nov. 13, 2013. Photo: WANG ZHAO / Stringer via Getty Images December 4, 2021 Zeyi Yang is a reporter with Protocol | China. Previously, he worked as a reporting fellow for the digital magazine Rest of World, covering the intersection of technology and culture in China and neighboring countries. He has also contributed to the South China Morning Post, Nikkei Asia, Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. In his spare time, Zeyi co-founded a Mandarin podcast that tells LGBTQ stories in China. He has been playing Pokemon for 14 years and has a weird favorite pick. December 4, 2021 For 16 years, Liang Yongping led one of the biggest Chinese fan translation groups, one that has brought countless foreign movies to the Chinese internet. His methods were legally questionable, but for a long time, the government didn’t seem to mind. When Liang was interviewed by a state-run magazine in 2011, he was called “ the preacher of knowledge in the internet era. ” But on Nov. 22, Liang was handed a sentence of 3.5 years in prison and a fine of over $230,000. The reason, to no one’s surprise, was copyright infringement. Volunteer subtitling and translation work, commonly referred to as “fan subbing” in English or “字幕组” in Chinese, was one of the unique cultural phenomena in China’s early internet years. Groups of devoted members would team up to download pirated content, translate the dialogues into Chinese and distribute the results on Chinese internet platforms. Because of the country’s tight grip on cultural imports, these pirated movies and shows became the way a generation of Chinese web users learned about the outside world. Subbing is hard. It takes hours of intensive work and often becomes unsustainable because no one is getting paid. Renren Yingshi, a subbing group created in 2003 and once one of the biggest, went the furthest when it came to trying to monetize the popularity of fan subbing. Under Liang’s leadership, it tried to sell ads, create a paid streaming service and build apps for movie fans. It even received VC funding at various points. But any monetization attempt has ultimately been unsuccessful, if not illegal. According to local court documents in Shanghai, by the time Liang and his colleagues were arrested this February, Renren Yingshi was hosting 32,864 available movies and shows and had accumulated 6.83 million members. In about three years, the website made nearly $2 million in revenue through selling ads, memberships that come with “donation requirements” and hard drives full of bootleg movies. As China gradually joined the world in cracking down on copyright violations, fan subbing groups either dissolved, lowered their profile or faced legal consequences like Liang and his company. But IP protections weren’t a clear win for the Western firms that had once clamored for them. As fan subbing groups waned, and Western shows became harder to access, so did the general audience’s appetite for them. The rise of streaming platforms In the early 2010s, burgeoning Chinese streaming platforms tried to appeal to fans of foreign shows. Sohu, a prominent player at the time, bought exclusive rights to hits like "The Big Bang Theory" or "House of Cards" and positioned itself as a legal way to consume American content. Other platforms did the same. This was bad news for subbing groups. One of the reasons they hadn’t faced immediate legal repercussions was because Hollywood didn’t know how to navigate the Chinese justice system. But now, that can be done by the Chinese streaming platforms who have bought the broadcasting rights. Powerful platforms like Tencent Video have successfully sued several websites for hosting pirated content. In the past decade, China has been frequently accused by international society of rampant copyright violation, and it has become an issue the Chinese government treats seriously. Chinese streaming platforms stand to benefit from an increasing emphasis on IP protection and that stance now defines China’s entertainment industry. But fans aren’t so happy. Rooting out pirated shows doesn’t necessarily mean they will become available on legal platforms. There are only a small number of shows and movies bought by Chinese platforms in China, and even for those, they come out much later and are often heavily censored. Viewers reported that , for each episode of "Game of Thrones," Tencent would cut out five to 10 minutes of content related to nudity or violence. And the grand finale episode of the show was never broadcast, for “technical reasons” according to Tencent. Imagine the fans’ fury at that. What remains Frustrated by their experience on mainstream platforms, Chinese web users have ultimately returned to places like Renren. In many ways, Renren represents the old-fashioned way of accessing pirated shows: Everything is on one portal, easily navigable with search functions. But that convenience led to Renren’s demise. “The fact that Chinese government has tightened up its control on unauthorized subtitling related websites has sent a clear message to the public about the potential risk of producing and disseminating unauthorized subtitling work,” Ting Guo and Jonathan Evans, a U.K.-based researcher duo who studies Chinese fan subbing groups, told Protocol. The sentencing is another reminder that to stay in regulators’ good graces, these groups have to be content with doing unpaid work to avoid catching the government’s attention. While other cultural phenomena like anime and web novels are turning into business empires, fan subbing has to stay fan subbing. In Renren’s wake, smaller subbing groups are still working. But to find their content, fans need to know the exact social media sub-forum, secret made-up file names or passwords that can only be accessed on a separate platform. When accessing the content gets so complicated, it’s no surprise that the audience will lose interest. Domestic streaming platforms now provide Chinese users with tons of movies and shows. Even though the majority of them are subpar, they are enough to kill time. This also coincided with the rising cultural trend to embrace domestic content as a form of patriotism. Perhaps Hollywood could never have predicted that, by protecting their content from illegal distribution, they ultimately lost a generation of Chinese viewers. Keep ReadingShow less Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com. December 3, 2021 This story is part of our Salary Series, where we take a deep dive into the world of pay: how it's set, how it's changing and what's next. Read the rest of the series . In 2015, Marc Benioff famously signed off on a salary review of every employee at Salesforce on the urging of then-Chief People Officer Cindy Robbins and another senior woman executive, Leyla Seka. They suspected that women employees at the company were being paid less than men for the same work. He wrote about the experience candidly in his book, “Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change,” and agreed to the pay audit, as well as to rectifying any gaps discovered … if the audit turned up any. To Benioff’s horror, the auditors found that 6% of the 17,000 employees at Salesforce would need their salaries adjusted upward. Most of them were women. The total cost of those adjustments: $3 million. One year later, Salesforce ran another audit. Astonishingly, it uncovered another $3 million in pay gaps. That was when Benioff and his team decided to implement a new set of standards guiding everything from merit increases and bonuses to stock grants and promotions to “root out disparities” once and for all. Salesforce’s lesson can be applied to every tech company, large and small. But the actual ins and outs of conducting a pay audit and, most importantly, doing it in a way that actually tackles pay inequity at its root can be complicated. Protocol spoke to compensation and HR experts about what to do — and not to do. To start with, even the word “audit” could be reframed, according to Maria Colacurcio, CEO of pay equity software maker Syndio. It implies a “one-time checkup,” or a “nice green compliance checkmark.” Instead, a better way to think about pay audits is to embed them into the company’s pay practices to better prevent the root causes of inequity, she said. Figure out why you’re conducting an audit Despite the cost of correcting disparities, “now is the cheapest time to solve this because the remediation compounds over time,” Colacurcio said. According to research from Gartner , the cost of existing role-to-role pay gaps can grow by as much as $500,000 a year for a typical large company. Plus, as tech workers are increasingly emboldened to disclose their salaries to each other, it’s getting harder for companies to keep potential pay gaps from becoming public knowledge. Workhuman, an HR software company, recently conducted its own internal pay audit, and the experience was “eye-opening,” according to Chief Legal Officer Lauren Zajac. Part of the impetus for the audit was the recently enacted Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, but Zajac believes that even companies in states without this sort of legislation could benefit from salary reviews: “The world of attracting and hiring is shifting,” she said, and companies that do this can tout it as an example of their own transparency and commitment to equity. Experts caution that audits typically make more sense for larger companies. Fewer than 500 employees, and you’ll start to lack statistical significance, according to Kaitlyn Knopp, CEO and co-founder of Pequity, a compensation software company. Group your employees Compensation experts agree that the first step to conducting a successful pay audit is to group your employees into buckets based on the work that they do. Colacurcio warned that one way companies can “gerrymander” this step is by making the groups so small that “everybody is a special snowflake.” Say there are 30 SVPs at a company, but auditors decide that “Craig isn’t doing the same thing as Susan,” so he is separated out from the group and thus excluded from the pay analysis. Manipulating the data that way can be a surefire path to reinforcing pay inequity. Analyze the data across groups Companies usually start by analyzing salaries against the market at large: Are they paying competitively, and do they have outliers? Then they turn the gaze internally: Are people being paid the same for the same job? If there are differences in pay, can they be reasonably explained by factors like location, experience or performance? Does the outlier employee have a patent or a Ph.D., for example? For many companies, it’s traditionally common practice to examine pay equity along gender lines. Before the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, only 50% of Syndio customers analyzed race. According to the company, 98% now analyze gender and race. Other factors to consider include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability status. Of course, to be able to do so requires that companies ask employees to report this data, and it also requires that employees actually do the self-reporting. Identify moments where bias enters According to compensation experts, one of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to pay inequity is starting pay — specifically, when companies find themselves paying individuals above prevailing rates in order to get them in the door. That kind of maneuver is “lazy” and sets up “extraordinary challenges down the road,” according to David Buckmaster, author of “Fair Pay: How to Get a Raise, Close the Wage Gap, and Build Stronger Businesses.” He recommends that companies instead use a one-time cash reward, which is a good compromise that can help get that person on board without creating inequity down the line. Another way of tackling disparities in starting pay? Consider a no-negotiation offer philosophy, said Knopp. Refusing to make concessions even when a potential hire is getting a larger offer elsewhere is hard, but it’s a good pay equity practice. Merit raises can also be a huge opportunity for bias to enter into pay decisions, according to Buckmaster. If John is paid more than Suzy because he received a 5 rating and she got a 3, was that performance rating calibrated properly, or was their manager biased? Performance scores may seem fair on the surface, but in a lot of places, women don’t move up as quickly as men, explained Knopp. Likewise, men are more likely to ask for retention bonuses, which can also result in pay inequities in the long term. Ultimately, companies should expect to find disparities no matter how committed they are to equity, according to Leanne Langer, vice president of Customer Success and Community at OpenComp, a compensation software firm. Pay disparities are common because compensation data is always changing, from the moment a new hire is brought in to when that person leaves the company. Analyzing and interrogating compensation practices should be a process of “constant evolution and adaptation,” she said. Educate your managers Pay transparency is key to combating inequity, according to Knopp. Train your managers on ranges for their team, as well as how those pay bands compare to the larger population of the company. It’s rare that pay disparities are intentional. Rather, it’s usually “stacks of paper cuts and micro-biases that result in something egregious,” she said. Likewise, keep your employees informed with a total rewards portal, so that they know where they stand as well. If you find a pay disparity, don’t hide it Company leaders have two options before them when it comes to communicating pay disparities to employees: The first is to hide them, and the second is to be honest about the audit and its discoveries. Although the latter may seem frightening because leaders are “scared of being sued,” Colacurcio believes that employees trust their employers more when they come out in front of their mistakes. Knopp recommends framing the remediation as a “market adjustment” if it’s under $5,000. If it’s a huge discrepancy, it’s better to “rip the Band-Aid off.” Beware of stock inequities Experts agree that one of the hardest things to fix when it comes to pay disparities is equity compensation. These disparities are tricky because “there’s no crystal ball,” and you can’t predict the value of the equity in the future, Langer said. The best route is to set strict guidelines around how to award stock in the first place with low flexibility, an eligibility threshold and standards for different lifecycle events, said Buckmaster. Keep ReadingShow less December 2, 2021 Management at China’s leading tutoring and ed-tech firms has been racking brains in an effort to pivot away from the once-lucrative but now moribund K-9 tutoring business. Pivoting has become a necessity ever since Beijing delivered a devastating blow to the private tutoring industry this past summer by banning many types of after-school tutoring outright. The Wall Street Journal in November reported that several major Chinese tutoring and ed-tech companies were in discussions with China's government to resume K-9 tutoring, under the condition they run their businesses as nonprofits. But some companies have decided to sever their K-9 operations altogether, exploring completely different businesses: agriculture ecommerce, garment-making and even coffee houses. Others will stay in the business of teaching but place their bets on professional education and “well-rounded education”(素质教育), which is not schoolwork-oriented and instead involves extracurricular activities such as arts, sports, science, technology, engineering and civics. Here’s a roundup of the major pivots by major Chinese private tutoring firms and ed-tech unicorns: Agriculture and Chinese-language education New Oriental Education & Technology has garnered the most attention after it took a sharp turn last month. Its CEO Yu Minhong announced in early November the company would fully exit K-9 tutoring to move into agriculture ecommerce, peddling ag products via livestreaming. Last week, the NYSE-listed Chinese tutoring company raised yet more eyebrows on social media after announcing its plans to teach Chinese to kids overseas, primarily students of Chinese descent. According to New Oriental’s official Weibo account, the company set up a separate project called Bingo back in August, shortly after Beijing banned after-school tutoring to students below 10th grade. New Oriental is one of the most recognizable tutoring brands in China. Since its founding in 1993, hundreds of thousands of Chinese youth have taken its English classes. Now that it wants to teach kids with Chinese heritage the Chinese language, many of whom might well be the children of Chinese immigrants who used to learn English with New Oriental, some Chinese immigrants joked: “New Oriental just won’t leave us alone.” Garment and hardware ed tech In November, Yuanfudao announced a new hardware ed-tech brand called Flying Elephant Planet (飞象星球). The brand was built to sell learning technologies and hardware to public schools and governments. And news had it in October that Yuanfudao was preparing to enter the garment industry, setting up a designer team to make down jackets. Chinese media found that Yuanfudao’s parent company, Yuanli Weilai Tech Company, had acquired a clothing company and hired fashion designers on job-ad websites. Yuanfudao is backed by Tencent and is one of China's largest ed-tech unicorns, with a splashy IPO rumored before the tutoring crackdown devastated its core business. Coffee Beijing-based Xueda Education is keeping its non-K-9 education business while also exploring something novel. The 21st Century Business Herald reported in July that Xueda had set up a new coffeehouse company. Young, bourgeois Chinese coffee aficionados have contributed to a specialty coffee boom in the ecommerce era, with specialty coffee startups attracting billions of dollars in funding over the past two years. Xueda is not even the first internet company to pivot to coffee: Zhihu, the Quora-like social media platform, started selling coffee beans online as early as August. 'Well-rounded' education This is a market that most online learning companies are trying to tap. Yuanfudao was one of the first ed-tech companies that made the move. It launched a new product, Pumpkin Science, shortly after the tutoring ban, which will focus on so-called "well-rounded education,” not (banned) subject-specific tutoring. Yuanfudao’s nemesis Zuoyebang also introduced its “well-rounded education” offerings in August. Chinese publication Jiemian reported that the Baidu-backed ed-tech unicorn launched five courses teaching science, arts, language skills and logical thinking under a new brand called Little Deer. Another online learning firm that’s investing in “well-rounded education” is the U.S.-listed TAL Education Group. In mid-November, CEO Zhang Bangxin announced in an internal letter the company would continue catering its main service to minors starting at age 2, but instead of subject-based tutoring, the company will shift its focus to offering courses helping build a “well-rounded education,” including humanities and aesthetics as well as science and programming. It makes financial sense to transition from subject-based tutoring to “well-rounded education.” China's “well-rounded education” market reached $83 billion in 2020, making up 21% of the entire private tutoring market. It was the second-largest tutoring sector after the $126 billion K-12 after-school tutoring market, according to an industry report. Adult education The NYSE-listed Gaotu Techedu is also sticking with education, but besides “well-rounded education,” it’s going to have a go at adult education and professional training, its founder and CEO Chen Xiangdong said back in September. It’s not going to be an easy pivot for Gaotu in the near term. The company reported $22 million in revenue from professional and foreign language courses in its second-quarter earnings , down 46.9% from the same period last year, and far less than revenue from K-12 courses. But the adult and vocational training market will grow because of favorable national policies. The Party and the state have been trying to ramp up China’s vocational education in recent years in order to diversify its labor force. People’s Daily, the Party mouthpiece, published several opinion pieces in 2021 that urge vocational schools and programs to expand recruiting. From Your Site Articles

Xueda Education Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Where is Xueda Education's headquarters?

    Xueda Education's headquarters is located at No. 4, Lijia, Hebei, Xiba, Beijing.

  • What is Xueda Education's latest funding round?

    Xueda Education's latest funding round is Acq - P2P.

  • Who are the investors of Xueda Education?

    Investors of Xueda Education include Xiamen Unigroup Xue and CDH Investments.

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