Spun out of Baidu in 2015 only a year after it was established by Baidu executive Hou Jianbin, Beijing-based Zuoyebang offers online education to students from kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12).

The company started out as a homework aid – most notable for an AI-powered knowledge bank that helped to identify questions from screenshots and match them with appropriate study guides and answers – before expanding into livestream tutoring.

Covid-19, which forced millions of students to study at home, helped Zuoyebang grow at warp speed. The edtech company claimed about 170 million monthly active users as of the end of 2020, of which 50 million were using its services on a daily basis, with over 12 million as paid subscribers. The growth momentum saw the company raise a total $2.1 billion in two rounds of fundraising last year, counting Alibaba, SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Goldman Sachs, Sequoia and Qatar Investment Authority among its investors.

While Zuoyebang is one of the bigger players in China’s booming online education sector, it must do battle with similarly well-funded startups, as well as the likes of streaming giants like Bytedance and Kuaishou, which have been targeting online schooling as a growth area for their businesses.

To build its war chest, Zuoyebang poached Bing Jin, formerly a senior executive at Nasdaq-listed live-streaming company Joyy Inc., in March as its new CFO. A key task for Jin is to shepherd Zuoyebang through a planned stock market debut in the US.

For more background on the company and its competitors, see here.

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