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Startups

SoftBank-backed Chinese startup Zuoyebang raises $750m

Deal highlights continued interest in Asia's online education sector

Zuoyebang has more than 50 million total daily active users and 170 million monthly active users.

TOKYO -- Zuoyebang, the operator of a Chinese online tutoring service backed by SoftBank Group's Vision Fund, on Monday said it raised $750 million from a group of investors, in a sign of continued interest in Asia's online education market.

Hong Kong-based private equity firm FountainVest Partners and U.S. investment firm Tiger Global led the series E funding round, which typically refers to a company's fifth major round of fundraising. Existing investors, including SoftBank's Vision Fund and Qatari sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, also participated.

Founded in 2014, Zuoyebang, which means "homework help" in Chinese, targets kindergartners to 12th-graders. Its app offers a wide range of services, including online coursesand live lessons. Using artificial intelligence, it can also help solve problems that users take pictures of and upload.

Zuoyebang has more than 50 million total daily active users and 170 million monthly active users, the company said.

Asia's online education startups have been a rare bright spot as funding and demand has generally dried up amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yuanfudao, another Chinese online education app, in late March secured $1 billion in fresh funding, according to the company. Last week, Indian ed-tech startup Byju's announced that it had received an investment from U.S. venture capital firm Bond.

SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son recently highlighted Zuoyebang as one of the Vision Fund's 88 portfolio companies that are growing during the pandemic. The fund posted a 1.8 trillion yen loss ($17 billion) for the year ended in March due to sharp valuation declines.

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