Zhihu, a Chinese unicorn in e-learning

by bold-lichterman

On the occasion of #NouvelAnChinois, FrenchWeb presents promising Chinese companies.

Founded in 2011 by Zhou Yuan, Li Shenshen and Huang Jixin, Zhihu is a question-and-answer site. Users ask questions and community experts answer them.

Available initially in China, the start-up opened internationally in 2013. In January 2017, Zhihu had 65 million users, of which 18.5 million were active daily. The site received more than 6 million questions and 23 million responses in 2016, according to company data.

Zhihu obtained the status of unicorn in January 2017. It is the first in her field to cross this threshold. The start-up is valued at $ 1 billion after completing four fundraisers:

  • 146,000 dollars (Sinovation Ventures formerly known as Innovation Works) in January 2011,

  • $ 8 million (Qiming Venture Partners and Sinovation Ventures) in November 2011,

  • $ 22 million (SAIF Partners and Qiming Venture Partners) in June 2014,

  • 55 million dollars (Tencent) in November 2015. The start-up was then valued at 300 million dollars.

The start-up counts Baidu Zhidao and Fenda haut among its competitors. Zhihu was able to diversify during the year 2016 and remain the market leader. It marketed new services such as institutional accounts, advertisements, cooperation with bookstores. The start-up launched Zhihu Live, a paid service. Users can then chat “one-to-one” with an expert.

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