Zhihu, a Chinese online question-and-answer community and similar to US-based Quora, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday, seeking to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "ZH".
Founded in 2010, Zhihu serves the Chinese Internet population in the fields of technology, business, film and television, fashion and culture.
For the first time since its inception, the Zhihu prospectus provides full disclosure of its core information, including revenue and operational data.
The prospectus shows that Zhihu's total revenue in 2020 was RMB 1.352 billion, an increase of 101.7% year-on-year.
Zhihu reported a net loss of RMB 518 million in 2020, narrowing by 48.2% from a net loss of RMB 1 billion in 2019.
Zhihu's gross margin was 56% in 2020 and 46.6% in 2019.
As of December 31, 2020, Zhihu has a cumulative total of 43.1 million content creators and has contributed 353 million pieces of content, including 315 million Q&As.
Zhihu is primarily a content-centric and diversified approach to cash, with online advertising, paid membership, commercial content solutions and other services (including online education and e-commerce) as the main ways to cash in.
Zhihu's online advertising revenue will be RMB 843 million in 2020, up 46% year-over-year, decreasing from 86.1% of total revenue in 2019 to 62.4% of total revenue in 2020.
The prospectus says Zhihu is still in the early stages of cashing in and has great growth prospects in several new cashing-in channels.
In particular, paid membership services will generate RMB 320 million in revenue in 2020, up 264% year-over-year, contributing 23.7% of total revenue in 2020, up from 13.1% in 2019.
Zhihu is also exploring and launching new service models, with a first-of-its-kind commercial content solution in early 2020, contributing RMB136 million in full-year revenue. Online education and e-commerce services generated full-year revenue of RMB 52.63 million, up 1083% year-over-year.
Zhihu reached 75.7 million average monthly active users in Q4 2020, up 33% from Q4 2019.
It grew its average monthly paid membership from 600,000 in 2019 to 2.4 million in 2020.
Zhihu paid 4% in Q4 2020, up 122% from 1.8% in Q4 2019. daily active users opened the Zhihu app an average of 6.2 times per day in Q4 2020.
In terms of shareholdings, prior to the IPO, Zhihu founder, Chairman, and CEO Zhou Yuan owned 475,279 shares of Class A common stock, 19,227,592 shares of Class B common stock, or 8.2%, and 46.6% of the voting rights of the company.