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SoftBank leads new funding round for $2 billion fitness app Keep

SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund led a $360 million funding round in the startup behind China’s most popular workout app Keep, as coronavirus-driven gym closures prompt more users to exercise in their homes.

Founded in 2014, Keep provides customized exercise sessions and instruction to about 300 million registered users.
Founded in 2014, Keep provides customized exercise sessions and instruction to about 300 million registered users. (REUTERS)

Beijing Calories Technology Co. said its series F round also drew investment from Hillhouse Capital, and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Keep is now valued at about $2 billion after the investment and is weighing an initial public offering as soon as this year, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Coatue Management, GGV Capital, Bertelsmann Asia Investments, 5Y Capital and Jeneration Capital also participated in the latest funding round, the company added.

A representative for Keep declined to comment on the valuation, adding the company has no IPO plans for now.

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Founded in 2014, Keep provides customized exercise sessions and instruction to about 300 million registered users. It has an average monthly active users of 38 million. In addition to designing tailored indoor workout plans, the app offers fitness equipments and weight-conscious snacks for sale, according to its website.

The company released its own home exercise bike in 2019, entering the indoor cycling sector which has become an investors’ darling during the pandemic. Competitors include the KKR & Co.-backed virtual reality cycling software startup Zwift Inc., and larger rival Peloton Interactive Inc., whose shares surged more than 400% last year.

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The fitness industry in China is booming, and the market for fitness clubs and studios is estimated to have exceeded 73.8 billion yuan ($11.4 billion) in 2020, up from 28.6 billion yuan in 2015, according to an industry report by Statista.

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