China VC Weekly: Online Learning, New Retail and AI
Online learning platform Zuoyebang raises $750 million from Tiger Global and others
Chinese online learning platform Zuoyebang announced on Monday it raised $750 million, demonstrating continued investor interest in China’s online education technology ecosystem. In particular, SoftBank lists Zuoyebang among its 88 portfolio startups that have demonstrated growth in recent quarters.
US investment firm Tiger Global and Hong Kong-based private equity firm FountainVest Partners led the Series E financing round. Existing investors such as SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital China, Xiang He Capital and Qatari sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority also participated.
Founded in 2014, Zuoyebang started as a platform under Chinese search giant Baidu where students could search for answers for their homework. As the biggest K12 online education platform in China, Zuoyebang, which translates to “help homework”, targets learners from kindergarten to 12th grade. The startup claims to have more than 170 million monthly active users.
SEE ALSO: 7 Hottest Online Education Startups in China
New retail firm KK Group bags 1 billion yuan in a Series C round
Chinese new retail company KK Group, previously known as KKguan, has recently completed a round of financing worth approximately 1 billion yuan ($141.6 million). The round was led by CMC Capital, while BA Capital, INCE Capital and some existing investors including Aplus Capital also participated.
KK Group has raised three large financing rounds since 2019. In March and October of last year, it bagged 400 million yuan in a Series C round only to top it off with a $100 million series D round in several months. After KKguan was reorganized as KK Group, it managed to raise its largest round to date, $1 billion led by CMC Capital, proving the company’s unicorn status.
About KK Group
KK Group was launched in April 2015. It adopts an “online+offline store business model”, covering three main categories of products: food and snacks, beauty and skin care products, and general merchandise. The company has overseas cooperative warehouses in Japan, South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and other regions, and has opened franchise stores in more than 30 cities across China.
IDG Capital leads a hefty pre-A round in AI firm SmartMore
Chinese artificial intelligence startup SmartMore has reportedly raised tens of millions of dollars in a pre-A round of financing led by IDG Capital, with participation from Zhen Fund and Lenovo Capital.
Commenting on the news, Dr. Shen Xiaoyong, co-founder and CEO of SmartMore, stated that the Internet and AI have changed all aspects of our daily life, but their innovative role in production methods and infrastructure have not been fully taken advantage of. Under the new infrastructure trends, AI will be more deeply integrated in productivity fields, such as semiconductors, chips, and ultra-high-definition displays.
Currently, SmartMore’s products are being used in semiconductors, 3C precision electronics, new energy vehicles, and video quality enhancement devices. The company has already set up offices in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Founded in December 2019, SmartMore is committed to promoting the use of AI, 5G and other technologies in the fields of intelligent manufacturing and ultra-high-definition video. The Shenzhen-based company aims to break through the limitation of single algorithms and solve the problem of manpower shortage and low intelligence in economic production to help industrial customers achieve complete digitalization and automation.