Guokr, a popular Chinese mobile and web-based science and technology education community, announced that it has received US$20 million of Series C funding. Of the total investment, US$15 million was secured from TAL Education Group (NYSE: XRS), a leading K-12 after-school tutoring services provider in China, the rest coming from existing investors including IDG.
The company had previously received a combined US$4 million funding from Trustbridge Partners in angel and A round. Series B funding was raised from IDG in 2013.
Born out of NGO Squirrel Group in 2010, Guokr is a Chinese social networking service provider that fosters the learning and sharing scientific knowledge. Topics on Guokr range across fields such as biology, psychology, sociology, physics, astronomy, and many more. The company claims more than 25 million users to date from its website, Guokr.com, and affiliated mobile apps.
Guokr content is mainly generated from three sources: professionally-generated-content (PGC) curated by Guokr editors, user-generated-content (UGC) from knowledgeable users, and offline seminars held by Guokr, which invite specialists in various fields to share their expertise.
Guokr also launched a MOOC platform in 2013, partnering with several open education initiatives including international education platform Coursera. Guokr supports the translation of MOOC content into Chinese for Coursera and other MOOC providers and promotes contents for its user base through Guokr.com. To date, Guokr MOOC platform has accumulated a total of 800,000 registered users. Following the new funding round, Guokr is planning to bring more overseas courses to the platform.
In addition, the company has expanded into more areas of popular science by upgrading an existing web channel to a science column for professional scientists, launching the maternal and baby health app Yanjiusheng, and unveiling its first hardware, an air purifier.
TAL’s co-founder and Investment Unit General Manager, Yachao Liu says the funding will help them to reach a complementary customer base of mostly college-based technology enthusiasts, and thus, building a social community through MOOC-based science and technology content for a younger demographic.
TAL Group was previously known as Xueersi and is now making heavy investments in online education. After investing in three online education companies (childcare portal Babytree, MOOC platform Duobei and graduate school admission test prepping site Kaoyan) in 2013, the company is becoming more aggressive in its acquisitions. Just in October, it announced five investment cases in LTG Exam Prep Platform, U.S. higher education provider Minerva Project, kids’ education company Sharkpark and online education platform CGMentor.
image credit: TAL
Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)