Chinese Home Workout App Keep Raises US$80M, Becomes Unicorn

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Chinese fitness app Keep, which provides users with online training to exercise at home, has just secured US$80 million in its latest Series E funding round. The latest capital has reportedly lifted the startup to unicorn status, and comes on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic, which kept millions confined indoors. 

In its latest Series E round, Chinese home workout app Keep has raised US$80 million, which reportedly pushes it above the US$1 billion valuation to be considered a unicorn. The funding was led by Hong Kong-based tech investment firm Jeneration Capital Management, alongside existing investors Californian venture capital GGV Capital, Chinese internet giant Tencent, Morningside Venture Capital and Bertelsmann Asia Investments. 

The capital injection will help Keep develop a “sports solution” that integrates other businesses under its portfolio, including content generation, hardware and community management. 

Keep was founded in 2014 in Beijing, and initially started out as a mobile fitness community providing users online training programs. At present, the app has over 200 million registered users and 3.6 billion user exercise data entries, according to the company. 

Read: 8 free online fitness & yoga classes to do at home during coronavirus 

While gyms and the broader economy has begun to resume functioning as normal in China, where the coronavirus is believed to have calmed in recent weeks, home workouts have risen in popularity as many people have gotten used to indoor confinement. 

According to a report from research firm iResearch, China’s overall fitness app market saw user figures spike 12% year-on-year within the first quarter of 2020. 

The Keep app showed the greatest user base growth in China at 23.2% in the first quarter, with 18.1 million devices using the app each month for an average of over 20 minutes daily.

This was a lifeline for Keep, which experienced a rough quarter in late 2019 and reportedly had to lay off 15% of its staff in October.  

The latest capital raise for Keep signals that investors remain confident that home fitness apps will continue to boom as the coronavirus lingers across the world and more people pivot to alternative gym-free forms of exercise. 

But even before the pandemic, the world of fitness apps had already been steadily rising in popularity amongst consumers, with investors jumping in on the opportunity too. Earlier this year in January, ClassPass announced that it closed a Series E round with an astonishing US$285 million, which elevated it to unicorn status. The round was led by big institutional names including Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek. 

It reflects the growth of the health, fitness and wellness industry trend that has skyrocketed into a trillion-dollar industry in recent years, driven by consumers who are increasingly health-conscious. The coronavirus pandemic is likely to push health and fitness even more into the forefront of priorities for consumers across the world, with the positive outlook for digital and home-friendly exercise options here to stay. 

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  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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