China’s Baidu-backed children storytelling brand Kaishu Story nets $66m

A screenshot of the Kaishu Story mobile app interface.

Kaishu Story, a Chinese online children storytelling brand backed by Baidu, has gathered $66 million in a Series C+ round of financing led by China-focused private equity firm TrustBridge Partners.

Singapore’s state-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings, and Shanghai-based private equity company Loyal Valley Capital participated in the investment, Chinese boutique investment bank TH Capital said in a WeChat post on Wednesday. TH Capital served as the exclusive financial advisor of the deal.

The Series C+ round came less than one year after Kaishu Story raised over $50 million in a Series C round led by Chinese internet search giant Baidu. The previous round also attracted capital injections from New Oriental Education & Technology Group, one of the largest private educational services in China, New York-listed TAL Education, and Shanghai-based Kunyan Investment.

Kaishu Story, which means “Uncle Kai tells stories” in Chinese, was founded in 2013 by Wang Kai, a former host at Chinese national television broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

Beijing-based Kaishu Story primarily provides users aged between zero and 12 with audio-based children story and education content through a mobile app and a WeChat official account. It has so far recorded over 7 billion in total click volume, according to the WeChat post.

The company also offers MP3 and Bluetooth speakers for customers to follow its audio content, as well as parent-and-children curriculums, children’s books, and other reading materials.

The rapid development of Kaishu Story is driven by an increasing number of parents who are more willing to spend money on high-quality education content for their kids. Since the emergence of knowledge payment in China in 2016, the number of users paying for online knowledge in the country has reached 292 million in 2018 and is estimated to stand at 387 million in 2019, according to iiMedia Research.

Upon the completion of the Series C+ round, the six-year-old company has gathered at least $166 million through seven funding rounds. Prior to the Series C round led by Baidu, Kaishu Story raised 156 million yuan ($22 million) in a series B+ round from investors including Kunyan Investment and Loyal Valley Capital in March 2018.

The firm also closed 90 million yuan ($13 million) in a Series B round led by New Oriental Education & Technology Group in late May 2017. Shanghai-listed Zhejiang Daily Digital Culture Group, government-backed Qianhai Equity Investment Fund, and We Capital, the investment vehicle of movie ticketing platform operator Beijing Weiying Technology, were also among investors in its previous rounds.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.