EdTech Unicorn's and the $1B Yuanfudao Mega Round

The Evolution of VC Funding for EdTech Unicorns

Education Intelligence Unit

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April 16, 2020

Yuanfudao just blew up the EdTech Unicorn funding charts. Completing a USD $1B Series G in March 2020, Yuanfudao raised the largest amount of capital ever raised in a single round by an education company anywhere in the world.

EdTech claims 14 Unicorns, or startups valued at or over USD $1B. Yuanfudao, a Chinese online homework and tutoring platform, achieved Unicorn status through previous financing rounds, but this time it changed the game almost doubling the previous records set by ByJu’s in India and VIPKid, also based in China, in the form of USD $500M+ rounds. Yuanfudao reports over 400 million users, delivered over 800 million problem practice services for students nationwide, ‘Xiao Yuan Search’ has provided 36 billion homework tutorials, and ‘Little Yuan Corrector’ has over 250 million daily corrections.

We have been tracking the evolution of Unicorn funding for some time and have updated the chart below to show how staggering this latest development is. The chart below lines all Unicorn funding up at time = 0 for their first public financing round. The x-axis shows the months elapsed since that first round in attempt to compare the evolution of funding and different fundraising strategies employed. In 2018 we found four Unicorn funding archetypes. Since that time, what looked like clear patterns, the evolution of funding has not been as clean and predictable.

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EdTech started a new decade with $3B of Venture Capital in Q1 2020, boosted by Yuanfudao’s Mega $1B Series G. COVID-19 has thrust Education Technology onto the global stage, supporting the rapid transformation of the way the world learns.

Q1 2020 was an extraordinary period for all of us. No matter where in the world you live, COVID-19 has brought a sudden and unprecedented disruption to humanity. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed campus-based educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNESCO estimates that more than 1.5 billion learners – over 90% of the world student population – are confined to their homes.

Providing alternative learning solutions has become the top priority for every ministry of education. Investment in education technology and remote learning will both mitigate the immediate disruption caused by COVID-19 and establish approaches to develop more open and flexible education systems for the future.

The chart below shows over $35B of venture capital funding in EdTech since 2010, backing a vision to transform the way the world learns and supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal four (SDG4). Q1 2020 delivered $3B of Global EdTech Venture Capital, nearly 10% of the prior decades total, in just the first quarter of the new decade. As usual, a number of mega-rounds dominated the quarter – for Q1 this came in Yuanfudao’s $1B Series G, the single largest venture financing round in Education Technology ever.

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The most promising 100 private Chinese digital education startups working to transform the way the world learns.

HolonIQ’s first-ever annual cohort of based digital education 100 startups is a list of 100 of the most promising private Chinese based companies creating innovative products and services in the $6T+ education industry, according to worldwide nominations, HolonIQ analytics and global expert consensus.

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