Chinese online English tutoring service 51Talk has filed for a public listing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking to raise $100 million USD in funding. The company still hasn’t confirmed whether they will list on the NYSE or the NASDAQ.
If everything goes smoothly, 51Talk will be the first Chinese internet company to list in the U.S. this year, amid a recent preference for local listing among Chinese startups. Instabilities in Chinese stock market, which may bring about by policy adjustments, have affected 51Talk’s decision, according to the company.
Founded in 2011, 51Talk offers one-on-one e-learning courses with teachers mainly sourced from Southeast Asian countries who speak English as their native language. The company currently claims to have 6,000 teachers and 2,000 supporting staff, offering courses to over 100,000 paid users.
Despite stable revenue growth, the company has recording losses due to huge investments in marketing and product development. Its net loss attributable for shareholders hit 402 million yuan in 2015, up from 130 million yuan one year earlier. The company has said that it may continue to record losses in the next few years.
51Talk is one of the major survivors of China’s online education boom, which started in 2014. After sprawling growth, especially the English training sector, consolidation began in 2015, during which 51Talk acquired a rival 91Waijiao, a similar site founded by Gong Haiyan, founder of Chinese online dating service Jiayuan. Remaining competitors include VIPABC and Hujiang.