China’s Quora-like Q&A service Zhihu announced today the completion of a 100 million USD series D, our sister site TechNode Chinese is reporting. The funding would boost the startup to unicorn status with a valuation of over 1 billion USD, according to Kaifu Lee, renowned Chinese startup guru and early-stage backer of the company.
Investors of the round include Capital Today, a reputable VC firm that has invested in NetEase, JD, and Meituan-Dianping, as well as several current investors like Tencent, Sogou, SAIF Partners, Qiming Venture Partners, and Sinovation Ventures.
Launched in December 2010, Zhihu is the go-to place for Chinese internet users who want to seek expert insights into various areas. Originally started as an invitation-only Q&A platform for tech-savvy and entrepreneurial minds, it opened registration in 2013 to everyone. Since then, its topics have diversified to cover popular topics from movies, games, and culture, as well as IT and finance.
As of January this year, Zhihu has 65 million registered users with 18.5 million daily active users. The site has received over 6 million questions and 23 million answers in 2016, according to data from the company.
2016 was a crucial transition for Zhihu: they were able to monetize through the launch of new services, including institutional accounts, ads, cooperation with book stores, and Zhihu Live, a service which allows users to join live one-on-one sessions with topic experts for a fee.
However, the company is facing fierce competition in the knowledge-sharing sector from both old rivals like Baidu Zhidao and up comer Fenda. How to commercialize the product without hurting user and community experience remains a big challenge for the company.
After receiving a 1 million RMB angel round from Sinovation Ventures (formerly known as Innovation Works) in January 2011, Zhihu raised a 8 million USD series A from Qiming Venture Partners and Sinovation Ventures in November of the same year. In June 2014, the startup booked a 22 million USD series B from SAIF Partners and Qiming Venture Partners. In November 2015, Tencent led a 55 million USD series C that valued the company at 300 million USD.