Tencent-backed Chinese fitness app Keep enters unicorn club after $80m Series E

Chinese fitness app Keep has become the country’s first sports tech startup to achieve a $1 billion valuation after raising an $80 million Series E funding round led by China-focused growth-stage investor Jeneration Capital Management.

Existing shareholders, including venture capital firm GGV Capital, Chinese tech giant Tencent, early-stage venture investor Morningside Venture Capital and German conglomerate Bertelsmann’s Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), participated in the latest round.

Chinese investment bank Taihecap, formerly known as TH Capital, served as the exclusive financial adviser for the deal.

“We always believe that China’s unbridled demands [for fitness] – driven by some 360 million fitness enthusiasts– would breed new-style sports brands that can leverage data and technology to satisfy such demands from new-generation youngsters,” said GGV Capital principal Li Haojun in a post on GGV’s WeChat official account.

“Led by [the company founder and CEO] Wang Ning and his team, Keep is undoubtedly a leading player in the field,” said Li.

Established in 2014, Keep operates an eponymous mobile app that provides online video training courses and social networking capabilities for users to share their workout progress and follow updates by others. Besides its “Keepland” offline gyms launched last March, the startup develops and sells self-branded sports products such as sportswear, meal replacements and treadmills through its app and online e-commerce websites such as Alibaba’s Tmall.

Keep has developed more than 1,200 video training courses spanning bodybuilding, yoga, gymnastics, as well as warm-up and stretches for running, among others. Apart from self-developed courses, the mobile app also carries professional user-generated content (PUGC) from over 2,200 sports professionals.

The company, which now serves over 200 million users, claimed its online business recorded a year-on-year revenue growth of 286 per cent in 2019, while its offline offerings registered a 300 per cent gain.

Proceeds from its latest financing will be used to expand and improve Keep’s fitness offerings. The company also plans to scale up cooperation with sports professionals to deliver PUGC courses and to increase offerings on the English version of its app.

The Series E round represents the seventh funding round raised by Keep in the last six years and brings its aggregate fundraising amount to $267 million.

In July 2018, the company secured $127 million in a Series D round led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Tencent, GGV Capital, Morningside Venture Capital, and BAI.

Global early-stage venture capital fund Ventech China and China-based BW Ventures are among Keep’s early investors.

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.