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SoftBank-backed Riiid acquires Langoo, eyes Japan's edtech market

It's betting on the growth potential of Japan's contactless education market

Oct 08, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Riiid Founder YJ Jang
Riiid Founder YJ Jang

South Korea-based artificial intelligence startup Riiid is looking to boost its presence in Japan following the acquisition of its Japan-based distributor Langoo, according to Riiid on Oct. 8.

Since 2019, Langoo has been servicing Riiid Tutor in Japan. Riiid Tutor, formerly known as Santa TOEIC, is an AI-based test preparation app for the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) -- a proficiency test for non-native English speakers.

Since tapping into Japan, Riiid Tutor has demonstrated strong marketability with the paid app becoming the top-grossing education app on the Android app store just a week after its launch. So far, the app has logged a strong 400% annual revenue growth rate.

Following the Langoo acquisition, Riiid plans to set up a local corporate body in Japan and focus on localizing its operations given the growth potential of Japan's online education market. In addition to TOEIC solutions, the company plans to broaden the scope of its business to include AI-based English speaking and coaching services.

According to Japan’s Yano Research Institute, the virtual learning market in Japan was valued at about 288 billion yen ($2.6 billion) in 2020, up by around 22.4% compared to the previous year. The rapid growth is owing to increased demand for contactless education amid the global pandemic.

Also, Japan has experienced a slower digital transition relative to other markets, suggesting huge growth potential for the country’s online education market.

"We decided to acquire Langoo because we were confident of its expertise and capability in Japan as demonstrated by Riiid Tutor. Through this investment, we plan to shore up our Japanese operations and also continue expanding globally," said YJ Jang, the chief executive and founder of Riiid.

Since raising $175 million in a Series D funding round from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 in May, Riiid has embraced inorganic growth strategies to increase its global presence. 

The company has set up a Silicon Valley-based office to expand its global footprint alongside inking partnerships to provide AI-based learning services to more than 10 regions including the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.

Also, Riiid was named to the annual AI 100 list issued by the global market research firm CB Insights. The AI 100 is a list of the world's 100 most promising artificial intelligence companies. This was the first time since 2017 that a Korean startup was named on the list.

By Danbee Lee

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