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.