The rivalry between China’s top e-learning apps has become even more intense this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest company to complete a major funding round is Zuoyebang, Who announced todayy (link in Chinese) that it raised $1.6 billion Series E+ from investors including the Alibaba Group. Other participants included returning investors Tiger Global Management, SoftBank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital China and FountainVest Partners.
Zuoyebang’s latest announcement comes just six months after the announcement of a $750 million Series E led by Tiger Global and FountainVest. The latest funding brings the total raised by Zuoyebang so far to $2.93 billion. The company did not disclose its latest value, but Reuters reported in september which he was raising at a $10 billion valuation.
One of Zuoyebang’s main competitors is Yuanfudao, which announced in October that it had reached a valuation of $15.5 billion after closing a $2.2 billion seed round led by Tencent. This propelled Yuanfudao ahead of Byju as the world’s most valuable edtech company. Another popular e-learning app in China is Yiqizuoye, which is supported by Temasek from Singapore.
Zuoyebang offers online classes, live lessons and homework help for K-12 students, and claims around 170 million monthly active users, of which around 50 million use the service daily. In comparison, there were around 200 million K-12 students in 2019 in China, according to the Ministry of Education (link in Chinese).
In fall 2020, the total number of students in Zuoyebang’s paid live classes reached more than 10 million, setting an industry record, according to the company. While much of the growth has been driven by the pandemic, Zuoyebang founder Hou Jianbin said in the company’s funding announcement that she expects online education continues to grow longer term, and will invest in K-12 grades and expand its product categories.