SoftBank is reportedly in talks with Zuoyebang over a potential US$500 million investment out of its Vision Fund. Zuoyebang is an app that lets students seek help on study-related problems, a spin-off of Chinese search engine Baidu.
SoftBank appears to be seeking a stake in China’s huge online education market, estimated to be worth US$422 billion by 2020. It’s also a market that has seen several high profile IPOs. Liulishuo just listed on the NYSE last month, the fifth Chinese education companies to list in the U.S. recently after OneSmart, Puxin, Sunlands, and Ambow.
The US$100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund, arguably the world’s largest investor in technology firms, has placed bets on many Chinese companies such as Didi Chuxing and Ele.me.
According to the South China Morning Post, SoftBank is still in negotiations with Zuoyebang, which means “homework help” in Chinese. Zuoyebang has raised more than US$500 million so far since its creation in 2014 by Baidu, counting Goldman Sachs, Sequoia Capital, and GGV Capital among its investors. Other than allowing primary and secondary school students to upload their homework and find answers, the app also provides online courses and mentoring. It has 300 million registered users but hasn’t published any recent active user counts. The app faces competition from Yuanfudao and 17zuoye in China.
Editor: Nadine Freischlad
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