Zuoyebang, a K-12 online education startup, announced that it has just completed a $60 million Series B funding. The series is co-led by GGV Capital and Xianghe Capital, a venture capital founded by former Baidu executives, with participation of existing investors of Sequoia Capital and Legend Capital.
The new funding is earmarked for R&D, team construction and education content, according to the company’s CEO Hou Jianbin.
Officially launched in January 2014 under Baidu’s Q&A site Baidu Zhidao, Zuoyebang is an online learning platform for K-12 students, where users can seek answers by snapping photo of their problems, find teachers for one-on-one Q&A sessions, live stream videos and receive homework evaluation. The site also serves as a nexus to connect students, teachers and parents. The startup claims to have amassed over 175 million users.
As a part of Baidu’s “aircraft carrier program”, which has opened a series of Baidu assets to outside investment, Zuoyebang was spun off from the Chinese search engine in 2015 and received an A round of an undisclosed amount in the same year.
Like many Chinese startups, Zuoyebang is planning to explore overseas markets as more foreign counterparts are setting their eyes on the Chinese market.
“Generally speaking, K-12 edtech startups are focused on their local markets because the K12 market in different countries varies significantly. But technology-driven startups can break through these barriers. For example, the U.S. adaptive learning company Knewton has entered China as well as 20 other countries around the world. As a tech-driven company, bringing our product to global users is also our long-term goal,” company CEO Hou Jianbin told TechNode.
Of course, there’s plenty of competition in China’s K-12 online education space as Chinese internet giants started to stack their chips in the area. Tencent has invested in two leading players in the industry, Yuanfudao and Entstudy earlier this year.
Zuoyebang still has to face a fierce competition in acquiring and maintaining an active user base, but the new funding has brought the company more time to grow. Although company representatives emphasized that Zuoyebang is now an independent company, its close relation with Baidu will certainly bring more support for its growth, such as in drawing more traffic and possible cooperation with Baidu’s file-sharing platform Wenku and Baidu’s online education arm Chuanke.