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Chinese Edtech Startup Zuoyebang Weighs $500 Million U.S. IPO

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Bloomberg News
·2-min read
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(Bloomberg) -- Chinese online tutoring platform Zuoyebang is considering a U.S. initial public offering that could raise at least $500 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

The education startup is working with advisers on the potential offering, which could take place as soon as the second half of this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Zuoyebang, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., recruited Bing Jin, a senior executive from Nasdaq-listed Joyy Inc. to become its chief financial officer, Bloomberg News reported last month. The company is particularly interested in Jin’s experience in the American capital markets, the people have said.

Loosely translated as “homework assistant,” Zuoyebang is a spinoff of China’s search engine titan Baidu Inc. Founded by former Baidu executive Hou Jianbin in 2015, the startup has raised at least $3.4 billion from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Sequoia Capital China.

The company offers live-steaming classes as well as other remote study services to more than 170 million monthly active users throughout China, according to its website. On any given day, at least 50 million students -- the equivalent of the entire population of Spain -- are using its platform, the company has claimed.

Zuoyebang could be joining a list of Chinese companies that are looking for a U.S. listing despite political tensions between Beijing and Washington. Didi Chuxing, China’s ride-hailing giant, has filed confidentially for a U.S. IPO that could raise several billion dollars, Bloomberg News has reported, while Chinese insurance tech firm Waterdrop Inc. has also lodged a filing for a first-time share sale there. Any deal would add to the nearly $4.6 billion raised by Chinese companies in the U.S. this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deliberations of Zuoyebang’s IPO are ongoing and details including size and timeline could still change, the people said. A representative for the company didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

(Adds IPO data in the sixth paragraph.)

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