Late exclusive 丨 Byte games, education businesses have massive layoffs, and the last platform giant has also begun to shrink its business

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“LatePost” exclusively learned that ByteDance’s education and game businesses have initiated significant layoffs. The education business has shrunk from more than 20,000 people to about 5,500 people after the implementation of the “double reduction” policy. This round will reduce by about 80%, leaving more than 1,000 people. Chaoxi Guangnian (Byte’s game business) began to cut multiple projects and cut teams in Beijing and other city game studios, and Shanghai 101 Studio, which had more than 370 employees, was abolished as a whole – this is also the earliest ByteDance. One of the established game studios.

In 2018, Byte entered the education and game industries, and regarded these two businesses as new growth points after Toutiao and Douyin.

After three years of exploration, the founder Zhang Yiming also affirmed their breakthrough. In March last year, Zhang Yiming presided over the last all-hands meeting before he stepped down as CEO. He included the education hardware department vigorous intelligence, the game development and publishing team Chaoxiguangnian as a new business with progress.

But education and gaming have never been able to replicate the success of Toutiao or Douyin. The development space of these two businesses in China has also been compressed a lot compared to when the project was established. Since last July, only non-profit educational and training institutions have been able to provide subject tutoring to primary and secondary school students. The game version number has also been suspended for half a year since August last year.

In early May, ByteDance China changed its name from ByteDance Co., Ltd. to Douyin Co., Ltd. Business departments not related to Douyin BU (Business Unit), such as education, games, Feishu, etc., have also become part of the “Douyin Company”. After this round of multi-business layoffs, the territory of education and game business has gradually shrunk, Feishu and Volcano Engine and other businesses have not yet improved significantly, and ByteDance is becoming more and more like a veritable “Douyin company”.

Education layoffs basically affect all business lines

Although this round of layoffs in the education business has been severe and affected all business lines, many of the laid-off employees said that they were not surprised. said one of the laid-off employees.

In November last year, the new CEO Liang Rubo announced that Byte China’s business will be divided into six sectors, and vigorous education is one of them. Guarong, etc.) adult education (enterprise learning, Bytelingo, Tan Shuiyuan, etc.) intelligent hardware (vigorously intelligent learning lights, etc.) campus cooperation (extreme class big data, AI learning, etc.).

Smart education is the key direction of vigorous education’s transformation after the implementation of the “double reduction” policy, and it is also the hardest hit area for this layoff. There are only less than 30 people in the sales and operation team of about 600 people in this business. A middle-level executive said that Hippo Aixue, an intelligent learning product, was tried out in more than a dozen schools for one semester, and it was found that students’ grades had not improved significantly. Next, Hippo Aixue will retain some products and R&D personnel, continue to improve products, and suspend commercialization.

The learning scenario that Byte hopes to build through Hippo Love Learning is: students watch personalized AI video content learning during class, complete the questions assigned by the system after learning, systematically correct students’ homework and master everyone’s knowledge weaknesses, and then use the algorithm Recommend new learning content to students. The real teachers of our school only answer questions in the classroom and do not give lectures.

Chen Lin once said inside Byte that he hopes to let more children learn through tablet in the future. A person close to him said that Chen Lin had seen a teacher in a mountainous area teach A, B, C, D with the pronunciation of “ah, bo, 呲, 嘚” in Chinese Pinyin, which touched him and felt that the teaching provided by AI The effect will be better than that of a teacher with a poor foundation.

The above-mentioned people believe that this idea is too ideal, and it is difficult for public schools to accept the system to completely replace teachers. It is also for this reason that most of the schools receiving the Hippo Love Learning Test are private schools located in villages and towns, and they have not used systematic teaching in every class, which makes it difficult for the system to continuously accumulate data. Bytes is used as an A/B comparison for new Internet products. Testing makes it difficult to quickly improve a product.

Internally, Byte Education believes that at least 10,000 schools need to adopt the system to accumulate enough data – this is too much investment for the current vigorous education. A byte person said that education requires the same patience as boiling traditional Chinese medicine, but vigorous education now requires the efficiency of Western medicine.

Dali Intelligent Learning Lamp will not release new products in the future, and at least half of the team of thousands of people will leave. Launched in October 2020 to the end of 2021, Dali Table Lamp sold 1 million units, but failed to make a profit. Originally, Bytes hoped to add courses and tutoring services to the desk lamp to charge for it, but it was abandoned after the “double reduction”.

Another direction of vigorous educational exploration is going to sea. Guagualong, which originally taught mathematics and English to young children in China, has turned to teaching English to young children overseas. It has been tried for more than a year and has a small scale; in addition, Bytelingo is also internally testing an adult-oriented, contextualized English teaching product Bytelingo ; The overseas business will continue to explore in the future.

In October 2020, Chen Lin once proposed that education is ready to be unprofitable for three years. “LatePost” learned that in the past three years, Byte has invested more than 10 billion yuan in the education business. But when the education business is no longer profitable, scaling back is inevitable.

After the “double reduction”, Chen Lin said at an all-member meeting that although the number of people in the organization has reached the bottom, it has stabilized; although there are many things that can no longer be done, several new directions have been set, and I believe that innovation can still be used. Education changes people.

Multiple game studios shrink in the morning and evening

The layoffs of Chaoxi Guangnian (the main body of the byte game business) are not as large as that of education, but they also face revenue pressure.

101 Game Studio, which was abolished in this round, is one of the earliest studios established by Byte Games. The main body of its team is Mokun Technology, a game company acquired by Byte in 2020, mainly focusing on the development of classic IP games. Fisher, the head of the studio, was a testing supervisor and assistant producer for a well-known game developer in China.

It is understood that 101 Studio currently has three game projects in its hands. After the abolition of the 101 studio, there is only a peerless studio in the Shanghai area of ​​Byte Games, which focuses on the development of large DAUs and medium-to-heavy games.

The “One Piece Passionate Route” promoted by Wushuang Studio reached the top of the iOS free list on the first day of its launch in April 2021, but then failed to continue this achievement, and the seven-day retention rate once dropped to 30%. “It has not been paid back yet,” said a person familiar with the matter.

In addition, some projects of other regional studios of Chaoxi Guangnian will also be abolished, including the P5 project of Beijing Oasis Studio, a player-versus-player shooting game. The byte game release line underwent a team reduction in May this year.

This is not the first time that Guangxi has started layoffs. A person in the light of day and night told LatePost that by the end of 2021, Byte has abolished several projects with large investment, including an open world game developed by Beijing Oasis Studio. Place high expectations.

Byte has been in the game industry for a short time, but it has long been an important traffic channel for game marketing, and it has shown great ambitions as soon as it enters the market.

Byte currently has several game studios established in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou, covering almost all types of mobile games: casual game publishing, medium and heavy game development in various categories, classic IP game development, open world game development, The construction of the competition system, and even the development of virtual idols. In 2021, Byte has successively acquired two game companies, Mutong Technology and Youai Interactive Entertainment. Mutong Technology’s “Endless Showdown” is the most popular multiplayer shooting mobile game in Southeast Asia.

A person in the light of day and night told LatePost that a core strategy of the department is to fully roll out and then stratify game types. Some teams make games that are low-cost but easy to generate cash flow, and then use the money they earn. Money supports big games that take years of research and development.

The first game studio established by ByteDance was Beijing Oasis Studio. Since its establishment, it has launched more than 6 projects, including independent game projects for cultivating young people; development of simple and highly dependent on operations and channels of chess and card games; strategy games that focus on going overseas; medium-sized third-person games Shooting and role-playing games, as well as open-world games with huge investment and participation of over 100 people.

In the early days of Guangnian Chaoxiguangnian, its person in charge, Yan Shuo, also won a management mechanism for the team that is different from that of the group as a whole. For example, you can build your own investment team, the project does not need to consider revenue for the time being, and the bimonthly OKR does not need to focus too much on the digital level. Performance.

Zhang Yiming once said: “The game business has not made much breakthrough, and the indicators of several games are not performing very well.” He said that making games requires more patience, and in terms of mechanism, it will also give the game business more opportunities. much autonomy.

However, in the past three years, the achievements made by Zhaoxi Guangnian have not been outstanding, and the strategy of raising a large development team with low-cost and profitable games has not worked.

The lack of game development technology and experience accumulation is the most prominent problem at the current stage of Chaoxi Guangnian. A person from Guangnian Shanghai studio said that it is difficult for the game to make miracles in a short period of time. If all teams have to work together, the technology, underlying architecture, and tool chain have to be developed from scratch, which is inefficient and has a high failure rate.

The industry as a whole has also changed dramatically over the past three years. Since 2019, the game industry has entered the era of industrialization. Tencent and NetEase have begun to build industrialization pipelines. Mihayou’s “Yuan Shen” has allowed the industry to see the prototype of China’s game industrialization for the first time. “The threshold for making games is much higher than in the past, but Bytes doesn’t know enough about it.” A person from the past and a light year said.

The above-mentioned people said that many producers of Guangnian have transformed from web games and terminal games. They are still looking at the current market and products according to the path of success in the past, thinking that making a game now is as simple as in the past. “That’s why Byte has the guts to set up an open-world game from the very beginning.”

Beginning in 2021, Byte Games began to have requirements for the project’s revenue. According to “LatePost”, one of the current important tasks of Yan Sheng, the person in charge of Byte Games, is to ensure that the project achieves business standards, including turnover and gross profit.

before hitting the ceiling

The two businesses have already encountered problems

The July 2021 “double reduction” policy announced that subject tutoring for primary and secondary school students must be turned into a non-profit business, and online courses should no longer be offered to children under the age of 6. In August 2021, the game version number was suspended for half a year and did not resume until April this year.

However, before the arrival of policy restrictions, ByteDance had invested more than two years in the game and education business, and had not achieved the success that matched the investment.

Guagualong, the best-developed business in Byte Education’s many businesses, also continued to suffer high losses. At the beginning of last year, the user scale was only about one-fifth of similar products of Yuanfudao. There are even fewer breakthroughs in the light of day and night.

According to the statistics of “LatePost”, from 2018 to 2020, ByteDance developed and acquired a large number of projects, and there are about 140 applications on the Apple App Store alone.

But today, Douyin and TikTok are still supporting the growth of ByteDance’s revenue and valuation. The ability of Douyin and TikTok to succeed is more based on the evolution of Toutiao: algorithm-based traffic distribution.

Douyin wins the short video competition in China. TikTok has snatched users from Google and Facebook. It has proved that there is no second company in the world like ByteDance that allows algorithms, operations, and auditing to collaborate so efficiently, promote rapid product evolution, and devour users. time.

After 2018, the successful products launched by Bytes, whether they feature free tomato novels or simple casual games such as “My Kung Fu Special Cow”, also rely on Byte’s traffic advantages.

But large-scale mobile games require multiple capabilities such as IP, mode, creativity, technology, and operations, and often years of development—when user feedback arrives, many important decisions have already been made.

The same goes for online education. The most successful teaching model of online education before, the double-teacher live broadcast class has dozens of links, and many links from delivery, trial listening, payment to renewal, etc. rely on manpower and strong management. In addition, there are four cycles in a year for large classes, and at least 15% of users are lost in each cycle.

In the game and education market with many links and long cycles, Bytes cannot continue the rapid feedback, rapid decision-making, and rapid adjustment that its previous success relied on.

A company that invests resources in a new business that is different from its familiar path and requires a different team culture is naturally not easy to succeed. But when managers are infinitely optimistic about the future and the founders are infinitely invested, they tend to tolerate such innovation investment and failure.

Once managers’ optimism and even enthusiasm dissipate, companies tend to revert to higher-success investments, or even reduce them. This is already the new normal in China’s Internet industry, and Byte is just the last platform giant to shrink its business.

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