Where oh where in the world is Ken Carroll?
Three months have passed since the infamous implosion of Kai En English sent shock waves throughout the community of English language teachers here in Shanghai, and now Danwei has revisited the subject with an excellent report by Shanghai-based writer Tessa Thorniley that sought to answer the question: “Why are so many foreigners fleeing China in the wake of language school bankruptcies?”
Thorniley writes that in just the last six months, four of the longest-running English language schools in China — KaiEn, Real Life English, Linguaphone and Genowledge — have collapsed one after the other, and the foreign founders have all fled the country, never to be heard from again. The article offers little new information regarding KaiEn (the only Shanghai-based institution of the four schools) but what piqued our interest was ChinesePod CEO Hank Horkoff’s statement that Ken Carroll and Steve Williams now no longer work for the company.
The last time we heard from Horkoff, Ken Carroll was still a “part-time consultant” with the company, but since then he has been quietly taken off ChinesePod’s homepage and graduated to the alumni section of their staff page.
Horkoff admitted though that the two gentlemen “remain minority shareholders in ChinesePod”. We wonder if this means that the creditors of KaiEn English have legal ground to come after ChinesePod?
The whole situation seems all the more curious when you look at the very first entry on ChinesePod’s corporate blog written when the company was established in 2005. In it, Hank Horkoff states in no uncertain terms that “ChinesePod is a joint venture between Kaien English training centers – a leading English-language trainer in Shanghai – and my firm Network Sense, which develops web software.” If one is able to take Horkoff’s statements at face value, then we can assume that ChinesePod has had a quiet re-org soon after KaiEn’s implosion.
Meanwhile, most of the ex-KaiEn teachers that Shanghaiist has been in touch with have left China in frustration, and some have vowed never to return again to this country. While Shanghai Construction Group (KaiEn’s Chinese partner) had promised to honor teacher salaries, the teachers we spoke to told us they only received 30% of one month’s salary even after putting together all of the necessary documentation — bank statements, witness statements signed by students, managers, HR, etc. and subsequent attempts to get the remainder of the salary owed to them turned out to be fruitless.
Danwei: Bankrupt schools and their fleeing foreign bosses
Previously on Shanghaiist
KaiEn English implodes: A now unemployed teacher’s perspective
Another day, another disgruntled KaiEn English teacher
Some relief for victims of KaiEn English fiasco as ChinesePod CEO downplays Ken Carroll’s role