A battle of words surfaces as Zuoyebang accused of posting “obscene material” on competitor’s platform

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The battle between Chinese Q&A platforms for K-12 students Yuansouti and Zuoyebang has surfaced following the latter’s fresh funding news. Yuansouti is accusing Zuoyebang of posting pornographic spam on their app, showing how fierce the insider competition is between the two players.

Chinese online K-12 homework help company Zuoyebang announced a $150 million Series C of financing in the morning of August 14th. The funding was led by China-focused venture capital firm H Capital, followed by Tiger Global Management LLC., Sequoia Capital, Legend Capital, GGV Capital and Xianghe Capital.

In the same afternoon, Zuoyebang’s competitor Yuansouti (小猿搜题, meaning “the small apes searching problems”) held a media conference at its headquarters, accusing Zuoyebang (作业帮, meaning “homework help”) of posting pornographic information on Yuansouti’s app. The company claims that media attention of the “obscene messages” has triggered follow-up reports, and has adversely affected Yuansouti’s reputation, Chinese media Tech QQ is reporting.

Yuansouti revealed that they traced the 5 IP addresses used to post the content to Zuoyebang’s office. Based on public data, they also found that one of the IP addresses was previously used by Zuoyebang’s CEO to register an account on Yuansouti.

“This means that those obscene messages were sent from Zuoyebang offices,” Yuansouti vice president Li Xin said.

He claimed that after Zuoyebang posted the obscene message on the app, the company hired PR companies to upload the screenshots to Weibo and to spread false rumors. About Yuansouti’s accusations, Zuoyebang said that they still need internal communication and have not given any official statement.

Chinese Q&A platforms Yuansouti and Zuoyebang both launched in 2014. Zuoyebang, previously a product under Baidu Zhidao, spun out in 2015 to build the Q&A platform dedicated to middle school and primary school students. Yuansouti was launched by the Fenbiwang in 2014, positioning itself as a platform to search for questions and answers. Yuansouti and Zuoyebang have the same target users of K-12, forming a direct competitive relationship.