China’s English learning app Liulishuo raises $72m in US IPO

Liulishuo co-founder Wang Yi. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg Photo by Bloomberg

Luilishuo, the AI-powered English language learning app created and operated by Chinese artificial intelligence firm LAIX Inc, raised $71.9 million by offering 5.72 million American depositary shares (ADS) in its lower-than-targeted US initial public offering.

The company first filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $100 million to finance research and development and to continue to invest in and develop its technologies.

A Bloomberg report in July forecast the company to raise as much as $300 million.

On Thursday, LAIX, which is backed by IDG Capital, Trustbridge Partners, GGV Capital, and CMC Capital Partners, raised $71.9 million after pricing its ADS at $12.50, the midpoint of the $11.50 to $13.50 range. It plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LAIX”.

LAIX introduced its flagship English language learning app Liulishuo, which provides English learning courses and services, in 2013.

Liulishuo, which means “speaking fluently” in Mandarin, was co-founded in 2012 by Wang Yi, a Princeton graduate and former product manager at Google.

“Since our inception in 2013, we have built our AI-powered Liulishuo platform to deliver a user-centric, personalized and effective English learning experience accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time,” LAIX disclosed.

As of June 30, 2018, LAIX said it had 83.8 million cumulative registered users in China and globally.

English language learning represents one of the most attractive and promising sectors in China’s education market. It is estimated that there were 438 million English language learners in China in 2017, and the demand for English learning products and services continues to grow as more and more people aspire to improve their language skills.

Financially, LAIX reported a substantial increase in revenues last year. From Rmb12.3 million ($1.8 million) in 2016, the company’s revenue increased to Rmb165.6 million (US$25.4 million) in 2017, and also from Rmb40.1 million ($5.9 million) in the first half of 2017 to Rmb232.3 million (US$35.1 million) in the first half of 2018.

Also Read:

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Singapore Reporter/s

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

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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.