Chinese Edtech Startup Zuoyebang Bags Over US$1.6B

The fresh funding brings Zuoyebang’s total capital haul to US$2.9 billion. The startup claims to have over 170 million monthly active users.

Zuoyebang, which claims to be the largest edtech company in China in terms of number of users, has raised over $1.6 billion in an E+ funding round, the startup announced in a press release yesterday.

The round saw participation from new investors Alibaba Group and SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the press release stated. Existing investors Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital China, and FountainVest Partners also participated.

Zuoyebang is also backed by Goldman Sachs, Coatue Management, GGV Capital, Qatar Investment Authority, Tiantu Capital, and Xiang He Capital.

The fresh funding announcement comes less than six months after Zuoyebang raised $750 million in its Series E round in June this year. The latest financing brings Zuoyebang’s total fundraise to $2.9 billion, according to Crunchbase data.

The startup did not disclose its valuation post-money. But, according to an earlier Reuters report, the new round puts Zuoyebang’s valuation at $10 billion.

According to Zuoyebang Founder and CEO Hou Jianbin, the fresh funds will be utilized to reinvest in education and technology, strengthen core competitive advantages, expand product categories, and increase new business layout. The startup will continue to focus on the K12 segment, the press release said.

Zuoyebang was founded by search engine giant Baidu in 2014. The startup spun off in 2015 and now has over 170 million monthly active users, with about 50 million active daily, according to the press release. Zuoyebang’s total active users exceeds 800 million while its cumulative paid members exceed 12 million, the press release added.

The startup claims that its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered homework help app has the world’s largest question bank with over 300 million questions. In fall of 2020, the total number of participants in Zuoyebang’s paid courses exceeded 10 million, the press release noted. It added that the startup’s number of users has grown more than 24 times over the past three years.

Zuoyebang aims to make online education inclusive. Per the press statement, 70% of its regular-price class users come from third and fourth-tier cities, compared to 60% last year.

The startup’s biggest competitor is Yuanfudao, which raised $2.2 billion in October this year at a valuation of $15.5 billion, making it the world’s biggest edtech unicorn. Yuanfudao is backed by marquee investors including Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Boyu Capital, DST Global, IDG Capital, Temasek Holdings among others.

Header image by Romina BM on Unsplash.

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