“Discovering a bigger world”

Founded: 2011 in Beijing, China

Category: Information services, Q&A software

Primary office: Beijing, China

Core technical team: Beijing, China

Status: Private

Employees: 1500

Amount raised:  $892.4 million  (7 rounds – August 2019)

OVERVIEW

  • A Chinese question-and-answer and knowledge-sharing platform where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by the community of its users
  • Mission: to connect people and the knowledge, know-how, expertise and first-hand information contained in each individual’s mind

 

PERFORMANCE METRICS

  • Estimated valuation: $2.5 billion (2019)
  • Estimated revenue: $15 million (2019)

 

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • China’s biggest Q&A website
  • Won the social network platform most favored by college students (2016)
  • One of the TOP 30 influential business cases in China (2017)
  • Ranked No.138 on Hurun Global Unicorn List (2019)
  • Registered users: 220+ million (2019)
  • Daily active users (Average): 10 million (2019)
  • Daily average online time: 27 minutes (2019)

Sells

  • Unpaid services
    • Basic Q&A
    • Zhihu Column – Allows users to create in-depth articles continuously about a specific topic
    • Zhihu Roundtable – Allows traditional panel talks to be held (similar to a webinar)

 

  • Paid services
    • Zhihu University – Offers a wider range of paid knowledge services, such as online courses, audio books, and training camps.
    • Zhihu Live – an interactive live streaming session emphasizing “Real-time knowledge sharing and Q&A”
    • Zhihu Bookstore – provides a wide range of electronic books with diverse topics
    • Zhihu paid – consultancy service

Channels

  • Mobile app and website
  • Recognition mechanism (e.g. badges)
  • Use of celebrities and key opinion leaders
  • Social platforms
  • Paid memberships
    • “The Reading Club Membership” – simply provides access to Zhihu’s online books, live-streams, and webinars
    • “The Salt-Elected Membership” – provides all access to Zhihu’s products and exclusive services

Competencies

  • Processes/platform for high-quality questions and credible answers (experts and professionals from various industries that contribute meaningful insights)
  • Strong marketing and recognized brands
  • Big data analytics and artificial intelligence to provide a clear and concise presentation of appropriate information for a better user experience
  • Deep understanding of users (who are often interested in esteem and self-actualization) – meet user psychological needs while also generating revenue

Resources

Assets

  • Powerful stakeholders including Baidu, Tencent, and Kuaishou
  • Partners with companies to launch “enterprise accounts” (e.g., Siemens, Audi, and Infiniti)
  • Highly educated, high income and high consumption power user base (80% of clients have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 20% have overseas educational experience)
  • Zhihu research lab (e.g., artificial intelligence and machine learning ranking technology)
  • Partnerships with XuetangX for resource sharing, market research, and course development
  • Convenient and sustainable profit model
  • Online content analysis bot Walle performs real-time detection and purging of bad user behavior

Processes

  • Uses artificial intelligence to personalize questions according to users’ interests
  • Uses a complicated identity authentication system (e.g., requires submission of identity documents) for users to prevent impersonation and ensure authentic information sharing
  • Frequent app updates so as to innovate, improve, and provide better user experience
  • Processes to build communities
  • Customized annual report – My Zhihu annual report
  • Continuously improve answer ranking mechanism and the home page content

Priorities

  • Aimed to be the leader in the emerging pay-for-knowledge market in China
  • Build a smart community for the general public with artificial intelligence and user-generated content at the core
  • Expand partnerships
  • Diversify product offerings

Assertions That Best Describe What the Company Did to Scale Early, Rapidly & Securely

  1. Increase market share by selling products and services that the target market perceives to be better than available alternatives
  2. Increase market share by applying digital technology to brand, market, sell, and service customers more cost-effectively than competitors
  3. Increase the company’s value by continuously seeking and receiving funding to support the company’s plan to scale and improve its image in the marketplace
  4. Increase profitability by applying processes that make products and services easier to understand, produce and deliver
  5. Continuously improve the user interfaces and applications that directly influence the entirety of the customer experience including personalized content, quality messaging, and the delivery and returns process to increase sales
  6. Increase demand by using scientific and technological advances to develop innovative products and services
  7. Increase demand of products and services by combining two or more resources in a way that the value created from them exceeds the sum of the value created from each resource separately
  8. Increase demand by enabling users to participate in product and service development
  9. Increase sales by applying big-data analytics to produce information about users, suppliers and customers
  10. Define and implement the plan to scale with the effort, skills, and resilience to increase profitability