China’s Ping An Insurance acquires stake in edtech firm iTutorGroup

Inside iTutorGroup's office in Shanghai. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China’s largest insurer Ping An Insurance announced on Friday that it has picked up a stake in edtech firm iTutorGroup through its overseas subsidiaries.

Following the investment, iTutorGroup will become part of Ping An’s smart education business. The quantum of the stake and the financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

According to a report by 36Kr, Ping An had initially planned to take over iTutorGroup for $500 million. However, iTutorGroup had denied any possibility of a prospective acquisition at that point in time.

Founded two decades ago, iTutorGroup provides users with online interactive training courses in English, Mathematics, languages and programming. It has “tens of thousands” of teachers on its platform, providing over 10 million online courses every year.

Between 2012 and 2018, the education platform raised four rounds of funding and was valued at about $1.6 billion prior to the capital infusion by Ping An.

According to iTutorGroup, the edtech startup will continue to operate independently while collaborating with Ping An’s smart education system to “achieve maximum synergy and utilisation of resources and technology”.

iTutorGroup said it will seek a valuation of about $2 billion, which would make it the world’s biggest education technology startup, before going for a public listing in either Hong Kong or the US.

Existing investors in iTutorGroup include Chinese internet giant Alibaba and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and GIC, China-based VC firm Qiming Venture Partners and Goldman Sachs.

Edtech startups are increasingly attracting investor interest. Last year, VIPKid bagged a $500-million funding in a Series D+ round led by Coatue Management, Tencent, Sequoia Capital and Yunfeng Capital. The round had reportedly bumped up VIPKid’s valuation to $3 billion.

In September 2018, Liulishuo launched an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange to raise about $71.9 million.

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.