China’s top private tutoring firm, which has helped millions of Chinese students pass English language proficiency tests, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), has decided that its future lies in live-streaming e-commerce. Hong Kong-listed Koolearn Technology, the online training arm of New York-listed and Beijing-based New Oriental Education Technology Group, said on Thursday it would rename itself as East Buy to better reflect its current business direction. The move follows Beijing’s abrupt ban in mid-2021 against for-profit tutoring in core school subjects, which took investors and industry players by surprise, and upended New Oriental’s business. In the aftermath, Koolearn, along with other China-based education service providers, saw their stock prices plummet . New Oriental, backed by China’s best-known private tutor Yu Minhong, laid off employees and donated 73,000 used classroom tables and desks to rural schools. In a desperate fight for survival, the company shifted its business focus to live-streaming e-commerce by assigning some of its former teachers, including Yu himself , to be online salespeople. One of them was Dong Yuhui, a former English teacher at New Oriental, who became an internet star overnight in June 2022 for one of his live-streaming sessions on Douyin, the domestic version of TikTok, in which he used English phrases and quotes from poems to promote various merchandise and share his world views. After that live stream went viral, Koolearn’s share price gained 600 per cent within a few trading days. The stock climbed more than 6 per cent to close at HK$54.25 on Friday, compared with about HK$4 in early June and topping pre-crackdown levels. “We recognise a shift in our focus towards live-streaming e-commerce and the potential for growth that this area brings to our [company] in the long term,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. “[The new name] would better align our company with our current and future business direction, better position us with our present and future customers,” it said. The name change is subject to approval by a general meeting of shareholders later this month. New Oriental still maintains another listed vehicle in Hong Kong that continues to focus on offline tutoring businesses. “Although we still face many uncertainties in 2023, one thing is certain: everyone lives in the same macro environment, and any changes and opportunities can only come from yourself,” Yu, chairman of New Oriental, wrote in an article listing out his New Year’s resolutions, published on his official WeChat account earlier this week.