yq-20f_20201231.htm

 

 

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 20-F

 

(Mark One)

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period fromto

OR

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Date of event requiring this shell company report

Commission file number: 001-39742

17 Education & Technology Group Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

N/A

(Translation of Registrant’s Name into English)

 

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

 

16/F, Block B, Wangjing Greenland Center

Chaoyang District, Beijing 100102

People’s Republic of China

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

Michael Chao Du, Chief Financial Officer

Telephone: +86 10 5945 1082

Email: michael.du@17zuoye.com

16/F, Block B, Wangjing Greenland Center

Chaoyang District, Beijing 100102

People’s Republic of China

(Name, Telephone, Email and/or Facsimile Number and Address of Company Contact Person)

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares, two representing five Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share

 

YQ

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

(The Nasdaq Global Select Market)

Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share*

 

 

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

(The Nasdaq Global Select Market)

 

*

Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing our American depositary shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, two American depositary shares representing five Class A ordinary shares.

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.

As of December 31, 2020, there were 480,183,070 ordinary shares outstanding, being the sum of 421,729,902 Class A ordinary shares and 58,453,168 Class B ordinary shares.

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “accelerated filer and large accelerated filer” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:

 

Large Accelerated Filer

Accelerated Filer

Non-Accelerated Filer

Emerging Growth Company

 

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

 

The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. Yes No

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has been to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued

by the International Accounting Standards Board

Other

If “other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. Item 17 Item 18

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. Yes No

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

1

 

 

 

 

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

3

 

 

 

 

PART I.

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 1.

IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

4

 

ITEM 2.

OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

4

 

ITEM 3.

KEY INFORMATION

4

 

ITEM 4.

INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

54

 

ITEM 4.A.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

89

 

ITEM 5.

OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

89

 

ITEM 6.

DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

111

 

ITEM 7.

MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

122

 

ITEM 8.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

124

 

ITEM 9.

THE OFFER AND LISTING

125

 

ITEM 10.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

126

 

ITEM 11.

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

141

 

ITEM 12.

DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES

141

 

 

 

 

PART II.

 

 

143

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 13.

DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES

143

 

ITEM 14.

MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS

143

 

ITEM 15.

CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

143

 

ITEM 16.A.

AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT

144

 

ITEM 16.B.

CODE OF ETHICS

144

 

ITEM 16.C.

PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

145

 

ITEM 16.D.

EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES

145

 

ITEM 16.E.

PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS

145

 

ITEM 16.F.

CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT

145

 

ITEM 16.G.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

145

 

ITEM 16.H.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

145

 

 

 

 

PART III.

 

 

146

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 17.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

146

 

ITEM 18.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

146

 

ITEM 19.

EXHIBITS

146

 

 

 

i


 

INTRODUCTION

Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report on Form 20-F to:

 

“17 Education & Technology,” “we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” are to 17 Education & Technology Group Inc., our Cayman Islands holding company and its subsidiaries, its consolidated variable interest entities and the subsidiaries of the consolidated variable interest entities;

 

“ADRs” are to the American depositary receipts that may evidence the ADSs;

 

“ADSs” are to the American depositary shares, two of which represent five Class A ordinary shares;

 

“average MAUs” for a certain period is calculated by dividing (i) the sum of MAUs for each month of such period by (ii) the number of months in such period;

 

“average number of homework assignments each active verified teacher user issued per week” for any period is calculated by dividing (i) the sum of number of homework assignments issued per active verified teacher user using our in-school teacher applications for each week of such period, by (ii) the number of weeks in such period;

 

“average number of sessions of use each active student user maintained per week” for any period is calculated by dividing (i) the sum of number of times of launching our in-school student applications per active user for each week of such period, by (ii) the number of weeks in such period;

 

“China” or the “PRC” are to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purposes of this annual report only, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan;

 

“CGI” are to computer-generated imagery;

 

“Class A ordinary shares” are to our Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;

 

“Class B ordinary shares” are to our Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;

 

“gross billings” for a specific period are to the sum of cash received from each enrollment of our online K-12 tutoring courses in such period inclusive of the applicable VAT and surcharges, net of the total amount of refunds in such period;

 

“MAUs” are to monthly active users, which is the number of users that logged in to the relevant in-school application(s) in a given month at least once. We treat each account as a distinct user when calculating MAUs;

 

“our WFOEs” are to Shanghai Yiqi Zuoye Information Technology Co., Ltd. and Beijing Yiqi Education & Technology Co., Ltd. (each of which, “our WFOE”);

 

“paid courses” are to our online K-12 large-class after-school tutoring courses that are charged not less than RMB99.00 per course;

 

“paid course enrollments” for a certain period are to the cumulative number of paid courses enrolled in and paid for by our students, including multiple paid courses enrolled in and paid for by the same student;

 

“promotional courses” are to our online K-12 large-class after-school tutoring courses that are free;

 

“registered parent users” are to users that have registered and logged onto our in-school parent application at least once since registration;

 


 

 

“RMB” and “Renminbi” are to the legal currency of China;

 

“SaaS” are to software as a service;

 

“shares” or “ordinary shares” are to our Class A and Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;

 

“trial courses” are to our online K-12 large-class after-school tutoring courses that are free or priced lower than RMB99.00 per course;

 

“US$,” “U.S. dollars,” “$,” and “dollars” are to the legal currency of the United States;

 

“verified student users” are to users of our in-school student applications that have completed at least three homework assignments;

 

“verified teacher users” are to users of our in-school teacher applications that have fulfilled our verification requirements with respect to user information provided, number of students enrolled in his or her virtual class(es) and level of student activity, such as having at least three homework assignments issued and completed by at least eight student users enrolled in his or her virtual class(es); and

 

“VIEs” are to variable interest entities, and “our VIEs” are to Shanghai Hexu Information Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing Yiqi Education Information Consultation Co., Ltd. and Beijing Xiaofeng Online Technology Co., Ltd. (each of which, “our VIE”).

Any discrepancies in any table between the amounts identified as total amounts and the sum of the amounts listed therein are due to rounding.

Our reporting currency is Renminbi, or RMB. This annual report on Form 20-F contains translations from RMB to U.S. dollars solely for the convenience of the reader. Unless otherwise noted, all translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to Renminbi in this annual report are made at a rate of RMB6.5250 to US$1.00, the exchange rate in effect as of December 31, 2020 as set forth in the H.10 statistical release of The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. We make no representation that any Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, or at all.

2


 

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

This annual report on Form 20-F contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. The forward looking statements are contained principally in the sections entitled “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview,” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.” Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, including those listed under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

You can identify some of these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to,” “potential,” “continue” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include statements relating to:

 

our mission, goals and strategies;

 

our future business development, financial condition and results of operations;

 

the expected growth of the online education industry in China;

 

our expectations regarding the prospects of our business model and the demand for and market acceptance of our products and services;

 

our expectations regarding maintaining and strengthening our relationships with students, teachers, parents, schools, business partners and other stakeholders;

 

competition in our industry;

 

our proposed use of proceeds;

 

relevant government policies and regulations relating to our industry;

 

general economic and business conditions globally and in China; and

 

assumptions underlying or related to any of the foregoing.

These forward-looking statements involve various risks and uncertainties. Although we believe that our expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, our expectations may later be found to be incorrect. Our actual results could be materially different from our expectations. Important risks and factors that could cause our actual results to be materially different from our expectations are generally set forth in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview,” “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects,” and other sections in this annual report. You should read thoroughly this annual report and the documents that we refer to with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should read this annual report and the documents that we refer to in this annual report and have filed as exhibits to this annual report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.

3


 

PART I.

ITEM 1.IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

Not applicable.

ITEM 2.OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

Not applicable.

ITEM 3.KEY INFORMATION

A.

Selected Financial Data

The following selected consolidated statements of operations and selected consolidated cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2019 and 2020 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are included in this annual report beginning on page F-1. The selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2018 is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included herein. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, or U.S. GAAP. Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future periods. You should read this Selected Consolidated Financial Data section together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes in conjunction with “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” included elsewhere in this annual report.

4


 

The following table presents our selected consolidated statements of operations for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

US$

 

 

 

(in thousands, except for share amount and per share data)

 

Selected Consolidated Statements of Operations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues

 

 

310,706

 

 

 

406,245

 

 

 

1,294,371

 

 

 

198,371

 

Cost of revenues

 

 

(104,967

)

 

 

(173,476

)

 

 

(495,671

)

 

 

(75,965

)

Gross profit

 

 

205,739

 

 

 

232,769

 

 

 

798,700

 

 

 

122,406

 

Operating expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sales and marketing expenses(1)

 

 

(303,492

)

 

 

(583,818

)

 

 

(1,097,932

)

 

 

(168,265

)

Research and development expenses(1)

 

 

(398,627

)

 

 

(491,266

)

 

 

(614,770

)

 

 

(94,218

)

General and administrative expenses(1)

 

 

(203,129

)

 

 

(157,793

)

 

 

(420,114

)

 

 

(64,385

)

Total operating expenses

 

 

(905,248

)

 

 

(1,232,877

)

 

 

(2,132,816

)

 

 

(326,868

)

Loss from operations

 

 

(699,509

)

 

 

(1,000,108

)

 

 

(1,334,116

)

 

 

(204,462

)

Interest income

 

 

33,980

 

 

 

23,834

 

 

 

8,422

 

 

 

1,291

 

Interest expense

 

 

 

 

 

(485

)

 

 

(2,925

)

 

 

(448

)

Foreign currency exchange gain (loss)

 

 

8,576

 

 

 

12,907

 

 

 

(15,557

)

 

 

(2,384

)

Other income, net

 

 

882

 

 

 

102

 

 

 

4,268

 

 

 

654

 

Loss before provision for income tax

 

 

(656,071

)

 

 

(963,750

)

 

 

(1,339,908

)

 

 

(205,349

)

Net loss

 

 

(656,071

)

 

 

(963,750

)

 

 

(1,339,908

)

 

 

(205,349

)

Accretion of convertible redeemable preferred shares

 

 

(244,371

)

 

 

(600,535

)

 

 

(2,837,991

)

 

 

(434,941

)

Net loss available to ordinary shareholders

 

 

(900,442

)

 

 

(1,564,285

)

 

 

(4,177,899

)

 

 

(640,290

)

Net loss per ordinary share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic and diluted

 

 

(18.50

)

 

 

(27.25

)

 

 

(44.68

)

 

 

(6.85

)

Weighted average shares used in calculating net loss

   per ordinary share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic and diluted

 

 

48,676,298

 

 

 

57,410,827

 

 

 

93,503,437

 

 

 

93,503,437

 

 

Note:

(1)

Share-based compensation expenses were allocated as follows:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

US$

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Share-based compensation expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sales and marketing expenses

 

 

4,911

 

 

 

8,737

 

 

 

35,077

 

 

 

5,376

 

Research and development expenses

 

 

12,254

 

 

 

22,508

 

 

 

68,688

 

 

 

10,527

 

General and administrative expense

 

 

106,365

 

 

 

61,845

 

 

 

252,273

 

 

 

38,663

 

Total

 

 

123,530

 

 

 

93,090

 

 

 

356,038

 

 

 

54,566

 

 

5


 

The following table presents our selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020:

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

US$

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Selected Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

 

1,252,983

 

 

 

653,859

 

 

 

2,834,962

 

 

 

434,477

 

Total current assets

 

 

1,336,557

 

 

 

757,624

 

 

 

3,046,580

 

 

 

466,909

 

Total assets

 

 

1,441,244

 

 

 

918,289

 

 

 

3,389,742

 

 

 

519,500

 

Accrued expenses and other current liabilities

 

 

222,459

 

 

 

309,031

 

 

 

539,787

 

 

 

82,725

 

Deferred revenue, current

 

 

75,737

 

 

 

243,521

 

 

 

596,307

 

 

 

91,388

 

Total current liabilities

 

 

322,727

 

 

 

680,704

 

 

 

1,205,503

 

 

 

184,750

 

Total liabilities

 

 

342,414

 

 

 

702,638

 

 

 

1,325,592

 

 

 

203,155

 

Total mezzanine equity

 

 

4,075,044

 

 

 

4,675,579

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total shareholders’ (deficit)/equity

 

 

(2,976,214

)

 

 

(4,459,928

)

 

 

2,064,150

 

 

 

316,345

 

 

The following table presents our selected consolidated cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

RMB

 

 

US$

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Selected Consolidated Cash Flow Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash used in operating activities

 

 

(418,865

)

 

 

(631,288

)

 

 

(522,988

)

 

 

(80,150

)

Net cash used in investing activities

 

 

(48,947

)

 

 

(28,594

)

 

 

(89,504

)

 

 

(13,717

)

Net cash generated from financing activities

 

 

1,550,372

 

 

 

84,449

 

 

 

2,797,421

 

 

 

428,724

 

Effect of exchange rate changes

 

 

72,803

 

 

 

(11,709

)

 

 

(38,499

)

 

 

(5,902

)

Net increase (decrease) in cash, cash equivalents

   and restricted cash

 

 

1,155,363

 

 

 

(587,142

)

 

 

2,146,430

 

 

 

328,955

 

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at the beginning

   of the year

 

 

120,481

 

 

 

1,275,844

 

 

 

688,702

 

 

 

105,548

 

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at the end of the

   year

 

 

1,275,844

 

 

 

688,702

 

 

 

2,835,132

 

 

 

434,503

 

 

B.

Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not Applicable.

C.

Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not Applicable.

D.

Risk Factors

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

We have a limited operating history with our online after-school tutoring business, which makes it difficult to predict our prospects and our business and financial performance.

We have a short operating history with our online after-school tutoring business. While we introduced our smart in-school classroom solution in 2012 for in-school learning, we only started to offer online K-12 after-school tutoring courses in a large-class dual-teacher format in 2017. Our limited history of operating under the current business model of after-school tutoring business with a primary focus on online K-12 large-class dual-teacher tutoring courses may not serve as an adequate basis for evaluating our prospects and operating results, including net

6


 

revenues, gross billings, cash flows and operating margins, and our past revenues and historical growth rate may not be indicative of our future performance. Our net revenues from online K-12 tutoring services grew by 283.0% from RMB93.9 million in 2018 to RMB359.6 million in 2019 and increased by 238.9% to RMB1,218.6 million (US$186.8 million) in 2020. We cannot assure you that we will be able to achieve similar results or grow at the same rate as we had in the past or at all. We have encountered, and may continue to encounter in the future, risks, challenges and uncertainties associated with operating an education technology business, such as building and managing reliable and secure IT systems and infrastructure, expanding the adoption by schools and teachers of our smart in-school classroom solution, addressing regulatory compliance and uncertainty, engaging, training and retaining high-quality employees such as our instructors, offline teacher service representatives and IT support staff, cooperating with third-party service providers to ensure the availability of sufficient qualified tutors, and improving and expanding our online after-school tutoring business and exploring additional education products. If we do not manage these risks and challenges successfully, our operating and financial results may differ materially from our expectations and our business and financial performance may suffer.

If we are not able to continue to attract students to purchase our courses and to increase the spending of our students on our online after-school tutoring services, our business and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

We generate revenues primarily from students paying for our online after-school tutoring courses. Our ability to continue to attract students to purchase our online after-school tutoring courses and to increase their spending are critical to the continued success and growth of our business. This in turn will depend on several factors, including our ability to recruit, train and retain high-quality instructors, cooperate with third-party service providers to ensure the availability of sufficient qualified tutors, continue to develop, adapt or enhance the quality of our course offerings to meet the evolving demands of our existing or prospective students, expand the adoption of schools and teachers of our smart in-school classroom solution, adapt our promotional activities to changes in market demand, legal regime and administrative practice, enhance our brand equity and awareness to a broader base of potential customers, and effectively utilize the data insights from our smart in-school classroom solution to refine our educational content offered and provide a more localized, personalized and effective learning experience for students.

Our ability to retain existing students and their parents by improving students’ academic performance and delivering a satisfactory learning experience is also critical to the success of our business. Our ability to improve the academic performance of our students is largely dependent upon the learning ability, attitude, efforts and time and resource commitments of each student, which are beyond our control. Students may feel dissatisfied with the quality of our educational content offerings and the teachers and tutors they encounter during our courses or fail to perform up to expectation after attending our programs. In addition, our programs may not be able to satisfy all of our students or their parents’ requirements. Satisfaction with our courses may be affected by a number of factors, many of which may not relate to the quality or effectiveness of our course offerings. If students or parents feel that we are not providing them the learning experience they have subscribed for, they may choose to withdraw from or not to renew their existing courses. For our online K-12 large-class dual-teacher tutoring courses, we usually offer refunds for remaining classes to students who decide to withdraw from a course, and if students withdraw from a course 30 minutes before the start of the third class, they are offered a full, unconditional refund. Although we have not experienced any significant refund requests in the past, if an increasing number of students request refunds, our cash flow, revenues and results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, the students who fail to improve their performance after attending our programs or have unsatisfactory learning experiences with us may also choose not to refer other students to us, which in turn may adversely affect the number of course enrollments.

All of these factors may contribute to reduced student engagement and increased challenges in attracting and enrolling prospective students. We must also manage our growth while maintaining consistent and high teaching quality, and respond effectively to competitive pressures. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain students to purchase our courses and to increase the spending of our students, our net revenues and gross billings may decline, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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If we are unable to develop and refine our smart in-school classroom solution to meet the evolving demands of schools and teachers, or if we are unable to maintain consistent quality and comprehensive grade and subject coverage of products offered to teachers, students and parents as part of our smart in-school classroom solution, our business and reputation may be materially and adversely affected.

Our smart in-school classroom solution development team works closely with our offline teacher service representatives to understand the educational needs of teachers and feedback from teachers and their students that utilize our smart in-school classroom solution and develop, update and improve our smart in-school classroom solution to reflect the feedback received so as to better help improve education efficiency in school. We also work to continually update the educational content offered in our smart in-school classroom solution to reflect the latest updates in education curricula and textbooks and have expanded our use cases to cover all key educational activities including class preparation and delivery, homework-related activities and academic assessment. The adjustments, updates and expansions of our existing smart in-school classroom solution and the development of new product features or content may not be accepted by existing or prospective schools and teachers and their students that utilize our solution. Even if we are able to develop acceptable new product features and content, we may not be able to introduce them as quickly as teachers require or as quickly as our competitors introduce competing offerings. Furthermore, offering new product features and content or upgrading existing ones may require us to commit significant resources and make significant investments in product and content development. If we are unsuccessful in pursuing product and content development and upgrading opportunities due to the financial constraints, unable to attract product and content development personnel, or encounter other related challenges, our ability to maintain existing relationships with schools and teachers or attract new schools or teachers to adopt our smart in-school classroom solution and our business and reputation may be materially and adversely affected.

Our success depends heavily on the continued and growing adoption by schools and teachers of our smart in-school classroom solution, and if we fail to maintain existing relationships with schools and teachers or attract new schools or teachers to adopt our solution, our business and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

The success of our business depends in large part on our ability to continue to attract new schools and teachers to adopt our smart in-school classroom solution in their day-to-day teaching and maintain our existing relationships with schools and teachers to encourage them to continue to utilize our smart in-school classroom solution. In particular, to attract new schools and teachers, we need to convince the school officials and teachers, many of whom are used to educating students using traditional methods and may not be used to such digital teaching methods, to invest significant time and resources to adjust the manner in which they teach students. The use of smart in-school classroom solutions at schools in China has just emerged in recent years, and many administrators and teachers may have concerns regarding the perceived loss of control over the education process that might result from utilizing a smart in-school classroom solution and offering educational content online, as well as skepticism regarding the ability of schools to provide high-quality education utilizing such a smart in-school classroom solution at the same standard they set for their traditional education classrooms. Through the continued improvements of our smart in-school classroom solution and ongoing efforts of our offline teacher service representatives, the acceptance of the integration of technology and education in school and use of our smart in-school classroom solution has increased over the past few years and was further accelerated due to the impacts of COVID-19 in 2020. However, it may still be difficult to overcome this resistance to adopt our smart in-school classroom solution and achieve greater industry acceptance.

In addition, schools that currently adopt our smart in-school classroom solution may experience turnover in their management. There is no assurance that the new management will have an interest in continuing or expanding the adoption of our smart in-school classroom solution in their school, and the new management may attempt to discontinue their relationship with us or ban the use of our smart in-school classroom solution. Furthermore, as the Chinese K-12 education curricula are mandated by municipal-level governments and the majority of the schools where our smart in-school classroom solutions are adopted are public schools, we face risks and challenges in maintaining our relationships with key participants in municipal public school system. If we are not successful in developing and maintaining relationships with key participants in the municipal public school system or we are unable to cooperate with such key participants and the public schools in an effective manner, we may fail in the maintenance and expansion of the network of schools and teachers adopting our smart in-school classroom solutions, and our business and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

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We primarily rely on our offline teacher service team to provide customer service for our smart in-school classroom solution in schools across China. We must continue to recruit, train and retain qualified offline teacher service representatives at scale to meet the demands from expansion of our school and teacher network. We must also provide ongoing training to our offline teacher service representatives to ensure that they stay abreast of changes in our smart in-school classroom solution and other changes and trends necessary to promote our solution effectively. Although we have not experienced major difficulties in engaging, training or retaining qualified offline teacher service representatives in the past, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to effectively engage and train such offline teacher service representatives quickly enough to keep pace with our growth while maintaining consistent selection and training quality, or at all. Furthermore, over time, some of our offline teacher service representatives may choose to leave us or even join our competitors. These actions may lead to the schools and teachers with which the sales personnel have an existing relationship switching to our competitors products and solutions, thereby weakening our competitive position in the industry. In addition, if our offline teacher service representatives are unable to effectively conduct promotional activities and provide customer service for teachers to help them learn to use our products or regularly communicate with teachers and schools to understand their education needs and feedback, we may be unable to effectively promote the adoption of our solution to more schools and teachers or maintain existing school and teacher relationships, which will have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our business depends on the continued success of our brand, and if we fail to maintain and enhance the recognition of our brand, we may face difficulty expanding the network of schools and teachers adopting our smart in-school classroom solution and attracting students to our online K-12 tutoring services, and our reputation and operating results may be harmed.

We believe that market awareness of our brand has contributed significantly to the success of our business. Maintaining and enhancing our brand is critical to our efforts to increase our network of schools and teachers adopting our smart in-school classroom solution and attract students to our online after-school tutoring services, which are in turn critical to our business. Our ability to maintain and enhance brand recognition and reputation depends primarily on the continued and expanding adoption by schools and teachers of our smart in-school classroom solution and products in their day-to-day teaching, which serves as a cost-effective way to promote our brand to perspective students and their parents, and the perceived effectiveness and quality of both our smart in-school classroom solution as well as our online after-school tutoring services. Failure to maintain and enhance our brand recognition could have a material and adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition. In recent years, we have devoted significant resources to our brand promotion efforts and the hiring and training of our offline teacher service representatives in connection with the continued expansion of the network of schools and teachers adopting our smart in-school classroom solution, but we cannot assure you that these efforts will be successful. If we are unable to further enhance our brand recognition, or if our brand image is negatively impacted by any negative publicity relating to our company, solution, products, courses or teachers, regardless of its veracity, we may not be able to expand the network of schools and teachers adopting our smart in-school classroom solution or attract students to our online K-12 tutoring services successfully or efficiently, and our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

We face significant competition, and if we fail to compete efficiently, we may lose our market share or fail to gain additional market share, which would adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The online education industry in China is competitive, and we expect competition in this sector to persist and intensify. We face competition in both China’s K-12 smart in-school classroom solutions market and after-school tutoring market from other online educational service providers. Some of our current or future competitors may have longer operating histories, greater brand recognition, or greater financial, technical or marketing resources than we do. We compete with these online education service providers across a range of factors, including, among others, functions covering diversified educational scenarios and friendly user experience, high-quality content synchronized with local curriculum, textbook versions and academic assessment objectives, insights based on learning data and empowered by data analytics capabilities, application of a wide range of advanced technology in different educational scenarios, effectiveness of customer services and sales and marketing efforts, and track record, trust and brand recognition. Our competitors may adopt similar curricula and marketing approaches, with different pricing and service packages for after-school tutoring services that may have greater appeal than our offerings. In addition, some of our competitors may have more resources than we do and may be able to devote greater resources

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than we can to the development and promotion of their product and services and respond more quickly than we can to the changes in student preferences, testing materials, admission standards, market needs or new technologies. As a result, our course enrollments may decrease due to intense competition. If we reduce course fees or increase spending in response to competition in order to retain or attract students and high-quality instructors and other personnel, or pursue new market opportunities, our net revenues may decrease and our costs and expenses may increase as a result of such actions that may adversely affect our operating margins. If we are unable to successfully compete for students, maintain or increase our level of course fees, attract and retain competent instructors or other key personnel, maintain our competitiveness in terms of the quality of our education services in a cost-effective manner, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.

If we are not able to continue to recruit, train and retain qualified instructors, we may not be able to maintain consistent teaching quality for our online K-12 tutoring services, and our business, financial conditions and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.

We have adopted a dual-teacher model, comprised of high-quality instructors and qualified tutors. Our instructors are critical to maintaining the quality of our course offerings, the learning experience of our students and our brand and reputation. We seek to recruit high-quality instructors with strong education background and teaching skills who have a strong command of the subject areas to be taught and meet our qualifications. The number of instructors in China with the necessary experience and qualifications to teach our courses is limited and we must provide competitive pay and offer attractive career development opportunities to attract and retain them. We also provide ongoing training to our instructors and organize discussion sessions amongst our instructors to ensure that they stay abreast of changes in course materials, student demands and other changes and trends necessary to teach effectively. Furthermore, as we continue to develop new educational content, we may need to engage additional high-quality instructors with appropriate skill sets or backgrounds to deliver instructions effectively. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to effectively engage and train such instructors quickly, or at all. Furthermore, given other potentially more attractive opportunities for our high-quality instructors, over time some of them may choose to leave us. Departure of quality instructors may reduce the attractiveness of our course offerings and negatively impact our paid course enrollments. Furthermore, in the event such instructors join our competitors, students may decide to follow such quality instructors and enroll in their courses offered through other online education companies, which may further weaken our competitive position in the industry. Although we have not experienced major difficulties in engaging, training or retaining high-quality instructors in the past, we may not always be able to engage, train and retain enough high-quality instructors to keep pace with our growth and our expansion into more comprehensive grade, subject matter and course material coverage, while maintaining consistent education quality. We may also face significant competition in engaging high-quality instructors from our competitors or from other opportunities that are perceived as more desirable. A shortage of high-quality instructors, a decrease in the quality of our instructors’ performance, whether actual or perceived, or a significant increase in the cost to engage or retain high-quality instructors would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Uncertainties exist in relation to new legislation or proposed changes in the PRC regulatory requirements regarding online private education and smart in-school classroom solutions, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The private education industry and smart in-school classroom solution industry in the PRC are subject to regulations in various aspects. Relevant rules and regulations are relatively new and evolving and could be changed to accommodate the development of the education, in particular, the online private education, markets and the further adoption of smart in-school classroom solutions from time to time.

Pursuant to the amended Law for Promoting Private Education, or the amended Private Education Law, a private school must obtain a private school operating permit. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Private Education.” However, we are an online tutoring service provider, which is different from traditional offline education service providers, and it remains unclear in practice as to whether and how an online tutoring service provider like us needs to comply with the operating permit requirement under the amended Private Education Law. In August 2018, the Ministry of Justice, or MOJ, published the draft amendment to the Regulations on the Implementation of the Law for Promoting Private Education of the PRC, or MOJ Draft, for public comment. According to the MOJ Draft, we must file with the department of education at the provincial level, as we provide online non-diploma-awarding education services. The MOJ Draft

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further stipulates that an internet technology service platform that provides training and educational activities must review and register the identity information of the entities or individuals applying for access to the platform. See Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Private Education. As of the date of this annual report, the MOJ Draft is still pending for final approval and has not come into effect. It remains uncertain when and how the MOJ Draft would come into effect, and whether and how local governments would promulgate rules related to the filing or licensing requirement applicable to online education service providers like us. If we are not able to comply with the filing or licensing requirement in a timely manner or at all, we may be subject to fines, confiscation of the gains derived from our non-compliant operations, suspension of our non-compliant operations or claims for compensation of any economic loss suffered by our students or other relevant parties.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Education, or the MOE, jointly with certain other PRC government authorities, promulgated the Implementation Opinions on Regulating Online After-School Training, or the Online After-School Training Opinions, effective on July 12, 2019. The Online After-School Training Opinions are intended to regulate academic after-school training involving internet technology provided to students in primary and secondary schools. Among other things, the Online After-School Training Opinions require that online after-school training institutions shall file with the competent provincial education regulatory authorities and that such education regulatory authorities and other provincial government authorities shall jointly review these filings and the qualifications of the institutions making these filings. The Online After-School Training Opinions also impose a number of new regulations requiring, among other things, that (i) each class shall not last longer than 40 minutes and shall be taken at intervals of not less than 10 minutes; (ii) live streaming courses provided to students receiving compulsory education shall not end later than 9:00 p.m.; (iii) fees shall not be collected in a lump sum for more than 60 classes when charged based on the number of classes, or for a course length of more than three months when charged based on the length of the course; and (iv) instructors providing after-school tutoring services related to academic curriculum are required to obtain the necessary teaching qualification licenses. According to the Online After-School Training Opinions, provincial education regulatory authorities shall promulgate local implementing rules regarding these filing requirements. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to After-school Tutoring and Educational Apps.” Accordingly, on March 23, 2021, the State Council’s Office of Education Steering Committee released an article warning parents of K-12 students about after-school tutoring service providers’ collection of tuition fees in ways that are in violation of the Online After-School Training Opinions.

We have completed the filings in accordance with the Online After-School Training Opinions with respect to our major online after-school tutoring platform, training contents and instructors, and we are in the process of completing filings or updating the filing information for the rest of them. As the Online After-School Training Opinions are relatively new and evolving, we cannot assure you that we are in full compliance with all relevant rules or we will be able to timely obtain or maintain all the necessary filings. For example, as of December 31, 2020, 61.1% of our K-12 instructors who are required by law to obtain teaching qualification licenses have done so, and another 10.8% have passed the teaching qualification exam, which is the prerequisite for obtaining a teaching qualification license. The relevant governmental authorities may, from time to time, conduct inspections on compliance with the Online After-School Training Opinions and the relevant local rules. Failure to comply with these applicable regulatory requirements or promptly complete filings may subject us to fines, regulatory orders to suspend our operations or other regulatory and disciplinary sanctions. We are making efforts to comply with relevant rules and regulations by, for example, notifying our K-12 instructors to obtain the necessary teacher qualification licenses. As of the date of this annual report, we have not been subject to any penalties from the relevant government authorities regarding our possible failure to comply with the relevant circulars, opinions or implementation rules.

Moreover, the MOE, jointly with certain other PRC government authorities, issued the Opinions on Guiding and Regulating the Orderly and Healthy Development of Educational Mobile Apps on August 10, 2019, or the Opinions on Educational Apps, which requires, among others, mobile apps that offer services for school teaching and management, student learning and student life, or home-school interactions, with school faculty, students or parents as the main users, and with education or learning as the main application scenarios, be filed with the competent provincial regulatory authorities for education. As of the date of this annual report, we have completed the filing requirements for all of our in-school apps that form part of our smart in-school classroom solution as well as our after-school online tutoring apps that are in formal operations as required under the Opinions on Educational

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Apps. As the Opinions on Educational Apps are relatively new and evolving, we cannot assure you that we are in full compliance with all relevant rules and will be able to complete or maintain all necessary filing requirements and comply with other regulatory requirements under the Opinions on Educational Apps and their related rules and regulations in a timely manner, or at all. The relevant governmental authorities may, from time to time, conduct inspections or impose more stringent regulatory approach on compliance with the Opinions on Educational Apps and the relevant local rules. If we fail to promptly complete or maintain any such filing and comply with other applicable regulatory requirements, we may be subject to fines, regulatory orders to suspend our apps or other regulatory and disciplinary sanctions. Furthermore, if any school that is deemed as users of our smart in-school classroom solution applications fails to file with the competent governmental authorities as required, such schools may be inquired by relevant governmental authorities, which creates uncertainties as to whether such school would continue to use our smart in-school classroom solution applications, and our business may be materially and adversely affected. We also cannot preclude the possibility that other misconduct by schools or teachers may subject us to more stringent regulatory requirements, or limits on our operation or promotional activities. See Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Private Education and —Regulation Relating to After-school Tutoring and Educational Apps.

Given the foregoing, the interpretation and application of the existing laws and regulations and the newly promulgated implementation rules and interpretations, if any, that govern the online private education industry and the smart in-school classroom solution industry would create substantial uncertainties regarding the legality of our business operation, which create risks that we may be found to violate the existing laws and regulations and any newly promulgated implementation rules and interpretations, including those laws and regulations under “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation Relating to After-School Tutoring and Educational Apps.” It is also uncertain whether and how PRC government authorities would further promulgate new laws and regulations applicable to online training institutions and the smart in-school classroom solution industry, including those promulgated to apply more stringent social and ethical standards in the education sector in general. There is no assurance that we can comply with any newly promulgated laws and regulations in a timely manner or at all, and any failure to comply may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If we are not able to continue to cooperate with third-party service providers that help us recruit and train qualified tutors, we may not be able to meet the demands of and maintain consistent teaching quality for our rapidly growing online after-school tutoring business, and our business, financial conditions and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.

We engage third-party service providers to recruit, train and manage the tutors for our online after-school tutoring courses at our request and settle payment of service fees to such third-party service providers. In order for us to successfully meet the demands of and maintain consistent teaching quality for our rapidly growing online after-school tutoring business, we must cooperate with third-party service providers that can supply us with qualified tutors at scale who can provide the necessary assistance for our instructors and work closely with our students and parents during their entire course experience. As the tutors for our online after-school tutoring courses work closely with the students and their parents, they are critical to maintaining the quality of our courses, ensuring our students and parents are satisfied with the students’ learning experience and maintaining our brand and reputation. It is critical for us to continue to work with third-party service providers that can continue to recruit, train and manage qualified tutors who have a strong command of the subject areas to be taught and meet our standards and qualifications.

The tutors enter into employment or service contracts with third-party service companies and are not our employees. The third-party service companies select tutors based on the standards we provide in our agreements. While we request that the third-party service providers provide continued training to these tutors and we oversee the performance of these tutors and may request the third-party service companies to replace tutors that do not meet our standards, management of tutors through third parties may not be as timely and effective as were they our employees. We are confident of the overall service quality and dedication of our tutors, each of whom works full-time for our students. However, these tutors may not have the same level of commitment to our students or be as well-trained if they were our own employees, and we have less control over the services provided by them than our own employees. If these tutors fail to perform in accordance with the terms of our agreements with the third-party service providers or fail to provide satisfactory teaching experience to students, we may fail to meet student expectations and our brand and student loyalty may be adversely affected. Any negative publicity or poor feedback regarding teaching services offered by these tutors may harm our brand and reputation and in turn cause us to lose students and market share.

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We currently rely on certain third-party service providers to recruit, train and manage our tutors. We typically enter into service agreements with such third-party service providers on an annual basis. If we are unable to enter into new agreements or extend existing agreements with these third-party service companies on terms and conditions acceptable to us, we may lose tutors. We may not be able to find alternative third-party service companies to provide similar tutor recruitment, training and management services in a timely and reliable manner, or at all. Although we have not experienced major difficulties in recruiting, training and managing qualified tutors through such third-party service providers to meet our course demands in the past, our current third-party service providers may not be able to hire, train and retain enough qualified tutors to keep pace with our anticipated growth while maintaining consistent teaching quality required across our expanding course offerings and rising course enrollments. Any termination of our arrangement with our current third-party service companies, or their refusal or inability to continue to recruit, train and manage qualified tutors for us to our specificity, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We face uncertainties with respect to the development of regulatory requirements on operating licenses and permits for our online education services in China. Failure to renew and maintain requested licenses or permits in a timely manner or obtain newly required ones due to adverse changes in regulations or policies could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The internet industry and education industry in China are highly regulated by the PRC government. As an internet-based education service provider, we are required to obtain and maintain all necessary approvals, licenses or permits and make all necessary registration and filings applicable to our business operations in China, and we may be required to apply for and obtain additional licenses or permits for our operations as the interpretation and implementation of current PRC laws and regulations are still evolving, and new laws and regulations may also be promulgated.

We print and provide physical education materials to our students. If the government authorities deem our printing and provision of physical education materials to students as “publication of books” under Administrative Regulations on Publishing, we may be required to entrust qualified publishers to publish such physical education materials, failure of which may subject us to penalties, including orders to cease illegal activities, discontinuation of operations, correction order, condemnation, fines, civil and criminal liability. As of the date of this annual report, each of Shanghai VIE and Beijing Yiqi Science Technology Co., Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai VIE, holds a Publication Operation License. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Publishing.” We may be required to apply for and obtain additional licenses, permits or recordation or expand the scope of the licenses so obtained by us, given the significant uncertainties of the interpretation and implementation of certain regulatory requirements applicable to online education business. As of the date of this annual report, online education institutions are not explicitly required to obtain the License for Online Transmission of Audio-Visual Programs, the Permit for Production and Operation of Radio and TV Programs or to complete filings as an internet live-streaming platform primarily because there are no implementation rules, explicit interpretation from government authorities or prevailing enforcement practice deeming internet education services as “internet audio-visual program”, “radio and television program” and “internet live-streaming services” as defined in relevant rules and regulations promulgated by relevant government authorities. In addition, as of the date of this annual report, there are no implementation rules, explicit interpretation from government authorities or prevailing enforcement practice deeming the provision of our educational content to students and teachers through our applications and online platforms as “online publishing” which requires an Online Publishing Service Permit. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Online Publishing.” However, there is no assurance that local PRC authorities will not adopt different enforcement practice, or any PRC government will not issue more explicit interpretation and rules or promulgate new laws and regulations from time to time to further regulate the online education industry, which may subject us to additional licensing requirements to continue to operate our business. As of the date of this annual report, each of Shanghai VIE and Beijing Yiqi Education Information Consultation Co., Ltd., or Beijing VIE, has obtained a Permit for Production and Operation of Radio and TV Programs. Furthermore, Shanghai VIE and Beijing VIE each currently holds a Value-added Telecommunications Business Operating License for certain internet information service, or ICP License. But we cannot assure you that our ICP Licenses can be updated in a timely manner or at all with respect to business activities, websites and applications associated with our business operations because relevant laws and regulations are constantly evolving and can be subject to differing interpretations by PRC government authorities. Failures to obtain or update such licenses may subject us to fines, confiscation of relevant gains, suspend the operations of our online platforms and other liabilities. As of the date of this annual report, no material fines or other penalties have been imposed on us for failure to obtain such additional licenses, permits or filings, or to expand the scope of the licenses obtained by us.

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There can be no assurance that once required, we will be able to obtain or maintain all the required approvals, licenses, permits and complete or maintain all necessary filings, recordations, renewals, expansion of scope, and registrations on a timely basis for our online education services, given the significant amount of discretion the PRC authorities may have in interpreting, implementing and enforcing relevant rules and regulations, as well as other factors beyond our control and anticipation. In addition, there can also be no assurance that we will be able to maintain our existing licenses, approvals, registrations or permits. If we fail to obtain and maintain required permits, to expand scope of such permits obtained by us in a timely manner or obtain or renew any permits and certificates, or fail to complete the necessary filings, recordations, renewals or registrations on a timely basis, we may be subject to fines, confiscation of the gains derived from our non-compliant operations, suspension of our non-compliant operations or claims for compensation of any economic loss suffered by our students or other relevant parties, and our business, financial conditions and operational results may be materially and adversely affected.

We have grown rapidly and expect to continue to invest in our growth for the foreseeable future. If we fail to manage this growth effectively, the success of our business model will be compromised.

We have experienced rapid growth in recent years, primarily driven by fast-growing paid course enrollments of our online K-12 large-class dual-teacher tutoring courses. Our net revenues grew by 30.7% from RMB310.7 million in 2018 to RMB406.2 million in 2019 and increased by 218.6% to RMB1,294.4 million (US$198.4 million) in 2020. Our rapid growth has placed, and will continue to place, a significant strain on our demand for more instructors, tutors, offline teacher service representatives and IT support staff, administrative and operating infrastructure, product development, educational content development, sales and marketing capacities, facilities and other resources. To further expand our business operations, we need to attract more students, scale up our educational content offerings, increase our educational content development professionals and employees of other functions, as well as strengthen our technology and infrastructure. We will also be required to refine our operational, financial and management controls and reporting systems and procedures. If we fail to efficiently manage this expansion of our business, our costs and expenses may increase more than we plan and we may not successfully attract a sufficient number of students, instructors and other personnel and expand our network of schools and teachers adopting our smart in-school classroom solution in a cost-effective manner, respond to competitive challenges, or otherwise execute our business strategies. In addition, we may, as part of carrying out our growth strategies, adopt new initiatives to offer additional courses and educational content and to implement new pricing models and strategies. We cannot assure you that these initiatives may achieve the anticipated results. These proposed changes may not be well received by our existing and prospective students, in which case their experience with our online after-school tutoring services may suffer, which could damage our reputation and business prospects.

Our ability to effectively implement our strategies and manage any significant growth of our business will depend on a number of factors, including our ability to: (i) continually develop and improve our smart in-school classroom solution to make it more appealing to existing and prospective students, teachers and parents; (ii) maintain and increase our paid course enrollments in online after-school tutoring courses; (iii) maintain and expand the number of schools and teachers that adopt our smart in-school classroom solution; (iv) effectively recruit, train, retain and motivate a large number of new employees, particularly our instructors, IT support staff, offline teacher service representatives and educational product and content development professionals, and cooperate with third-party service providers to maintain sufficient number of qualified tutors to meet our growing business demands; (v) continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls and efficiencies; (vi) successfully implement enhancements and improvements to our systems and infrastructure; (vii) protect and further develop our intellectual property rights; and (viii) make sound business decisions in light of the scrutiny associated with operating as a public company. These activities require significant capital expenditures and investment of valuable management and financial resources, and our growth will continue to place significant demands on our management. There are no guarantees that we will be able to effectively manage any future growth in an efficient, cost-effective and timely manner, or at all. Our growth in a relatively short period of time is not necessarily indicative of results that we may achieve in the future. If we do not effectively manage the growth of our business and operations, our reputation, results of operations and overall business and prospects could be negatively impacted.

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We have a history of net losses and we may not achieve profitability in the future.

We had net losses of RMB656.1 million, RMB963.8 million and RMB1,339.9 million (US$205.3 million), respectively, in 2018, 2019 and 2020. We also had negative cash flows from operating activities of RMB418.9 million, RMB631.3 million and RMB523.0 million (US$80.2 million), respectively, in 2018, 2019 and 2020. We cannot assure you that we will be able to generate net profits or positive cash flow from operating activities in the future. Our ability to achieve profitability will depend in large part on our ability to increase our operating margin, either by growing our revenues at a rate faster than our costs and operating expenses increase, or by reducing our costs and operating expenses as a percentage of our net revenues. Accordingly, we intend to continue to invest to attract new students, hire high-quality instructors and other personnel, cooperate with third-party service providers to maintain sufficient number of qualified tutors, expand our network of schools and teachers adopting our smart in-school classroom solution, and strengthen our educational content development and technologies and data analytics capabilities to enhance student experience. These efforts may be more costly than we expect, and our net revenues may not increase sufficiently to offset the expenses. We may continue to take actions and make investments that do not generate optimal financial results and may even result in significantly increased operating and net losses in the short term with no assurance that we will eventually achieve our intended long-term benefits or profitability. These factors, among others set out under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” may negatively affect our ability to achieve profitability in the near term, if at all.

We may not be successful in our expansion of online after-school tutoring services or in our exploration of additional educational services.

We started to offer online K-12 after-school tutoring courses in a large-class dual-teacher format in 2017. We aim to continue to expand the coverage of such tutoring courses to cover additional subjects and more versions of different education curricula and textbooks within each subject matter and each grade. Expansions and upgrades to our existing products and courses may not be well received by our students, teachers and parents, and newly introduced course offerings and educational content may not achieve success as expected. We are also starting to explore additional education services beyond large-class dual-teacher online after-school tutoring courses, such as AI-enabled courses and education informatization services for education-related government entities, schools and service providers, with which we have limited experience. Our lack of experience with these new products and services may adversely affect our prospects and our ability to compete with the existing market players in any of these product and service categories. The development of new products, services and content could disrupt our ongoing business, disrupt our management’s attention, be costly and time-consuming and require us to make significant investments in research and product development, develop new technologies, and increase sales and marketing efforts, all of which may not be successful. We cannot assure you that any of such new products or services will achieve market acceptance or generate sufficient revenues to offset the costs and expenses incurred in relation to our development and promotion efforts. If we are unsuccessful in our expansion of after-school tutoring products or in our exploration of additional educational services due to financial constraints, failure to attract qualified personnel or other reasons, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

We may not be able to maintain or increase our course fee level.

Our results of operations are affected by the pricing of our online K-12 after-school course offerings. We determine our course fees primarily based on the demand for our course offerings, the cost of our operations, the course fees charged by our competitors, our pricing strategy to gain market share and general economic conditions in the PRC. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to maintain or increase our tuition level in the future without adversely affecting the demand for our online course offerings.

Our failure to protect our intellectual property rights may undermine our competitive position, and litigation to protect our intellectual property rights or defend against third-party allegations of infringement may be costly and ineffective.

We believe that our patents, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property are essential to our success. We have devoted considerable time and energy to the development and improvement of our websites, applications, our system infrastructure and our course materials.

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We rely primarily on patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and other contractual restrictions for the protection of the intellectual property used in our business. Nevertheless, these provide only limited protection and the actions we take to protect our intellectual property rights may not be adequate. Furthermore, our pending intellectual property right applications may be rejected. Our trade secrets may become known or be independently discovered by our competitors. Third parties may in the future pirate our educational content and course materials developed in-house and may infringe upon or misappropriate our other intellectual property. Infringement upon or the misappropriation of, our proprietary technologies or other intellectual property could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Although we have taken measures to monitoring and policing the unauthorized use of our copyrighted course materials, policing the unauthorized use of intellectual property rights can be difficult and expensive. In addition, our instructors with whom we have signed exclusive contracts engage in content development for our courses. Although instructors acknowledge in their employment agreements with us that we own the intellectual property of any content developed by such instructors in connection with their employment, some instructors may continue to use these course content if they resign with us and join our competitors, which may negatively impact the attractiveness of our courses to prospective students and parents, and our intellectual property rights for such course content could be costly and time consuming to defend. Although we have entered into agreements with certain instructors to prohibit them from using our course content without our prior consent, we cannot ensure compliance of instructors with such agreement.

Furthermore, litigation may be necessary to enforce our intellectual property rights, protect our trade secrets or determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. Such litigation may be costly and divert management’s attention away from our business. An adverse determination in any such litigation would impair our intellectual property rights and may harm our business, prospects and reputation. Enforcement of judgments in China is uncertain, and even if we are successful in litigation, it may not provide us with an effective remedy. In addition, we have no insurance coverage against litigation costs and would have to bear all costs arising from such litigation to the extent we are unable to recover them from other parties. The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may be involved in legal and other disputes from time to time arising out of our operations, in particular for allegations relating to our infringement of intellectual property rights of third parties, which may be expensive to defend and may disrupt our business and operations.

We have and may continue to be involved in legal and other disputes in the ordinary course of our business, including allegations against us for potential infringement of third-party copyrights or other intellectual property rights. We may also encounter disputes from time to time over rights and obligations concerning intellectual property rights and other legal rights, in particular third-party copyrights that may be infringed by us or the instructors and tutors in our business operation, and we may not prevail in those disputes. Our educational content is typically subject to internal review before being approved to launch and our content monitoring personnel monitor our live courses and other content of our in-school and after-school products and services. We have also adopted policies and procedures to prohibit instructors, tutors and other personnel from infringing upon third-party copyrights or, other intellectual property rights. However, we cannot assure you that our efforts will be effective in preventing potential infringement of third-party intellectual property rights or that instructors, tutors or other personnel will not, against our policies, use third-party copyrighted materials or intellectual property without proper authorization in our classes or on our applications or websites. The students, teachers and parents using our applications or websites may post unauthorized third-party content on our applications or websites, which we may not be able to detect in time, or at all. We may incur liability for unauthorized duplication or distribution of materials posted on our applications or websites or used in our classes. We have been and are now subject to allegations on the grounds of intellectual property rights infringement and other legal theories based on the content of the materials that we or instructors and tutors of our courses distribute or use in our business operation.

Any claims against us, with or without merit, could be time-consuming and costly to defend or litigate, divert our management’s attention and resources or result in the loss of goodwill associated with our brand. The application and interpretation of China’s intellectual property right laws and the procedures and standards for granting trademarks, patents, copyrights, know-how or other intellectual property rights in China, and the laws governing personal rights are still evolving and remain uncertain, and we cannot assure you that PRC courts or regulatory authorities would agree with our analysis. If a lawsuit against us is successful, we may be required to pay substantial damages and/or enter into royalty or license agreements with commercially unreasonable terms, or we

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may be unable to enter into such agreements at all. We may also lose, or be limited in, the rights to offer some of our course offerings, parts of our products or be required to make changes to our course materials, applications or other software. As a result, the scope of our course materials could be reduced, which could adversely affect the effectiveness of our curriculum, limit our ability to attract new students, limit the effectiveness of and slow down the speed of adoption of our smart in-school classroom solution, harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

If our security measures are breached or failed and result in unauthorized disclosure or unintended leakage of data, we could lose existing students, fail to attract new students and be exposed to protracted and costly litigation.

Maintaining platform security is of critical importance to us because we store and transmit proprietary and confidential information, which includes proprietary and confidential student, teacher, parent, instructor and tutor information, such as names, addresses, ID card numbers, bank account numbers and other personal information as well as personal academic learning and teaching information, all which is primarily stored in our digital database. To ensure the confidentiality and integrity of our data, we maintain a comprehensive and rigorous data security program. For example, we have implemented advanced data encryption measures to ensure secured storage and transmission of data, and prevent any unauthorized access or use of our user data. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Data Privacy and Security.” These measures, however, may not be as effective as we anticipate. As an education technology company, we face an increasing number of threats to our platform and computer systems, including unauthorized activity and access, system viruses, worms, malicious code, denial of service attacks, phishing attacks, and organized cyberattacks, any of which could breach our security and disrupt our platform and technology infrastructure. The techniques used by computer hackers and cyber criminals to obtain unauthorized access to data or to sabotage computer systems change frequently and generally are not detected until after an incident has occurred. We have implemented certain safeguards and processes to thwart hackers and protect the data in our platform and computer systems. However, our efforts to maintain the security and integrity of our platform, and the cybersecurity measures taken by our third-party service providers may be unable to anticipate, detect or prevent all attempts to compromise our systems. If our security measures are breached or fail as a result of third-party action, employee error, malfeasance or otherwise, it could result in the loss or misuse of or authorized third-party access to proprietary and confidential student, teacher, parent, employee and company information, which could subject us to liability, interrupt our business or adversely affect our reputation, potentially over an extended period of time.

Increased regulation of data utilization practices, including self-regulation, under existing laws that limit our ability to collect, transfer and use data, could have an adverse effect on our business. If we were to disclose data about our students, teachers, parents, instructors and tutors in a manner that was objectionable to them, our business reputation could be adversely affected, and we could face potential legal claims that could impact our operating results. Failure to comply with these obligations could subject us to liability, and to the extent that we need to alter our business model or practices to adapt to these obligations, we could incur additional expenses.

Any of these issues could harm our reputation, adversely affect our ability to attract and enroll prospective students, adversely affect our ability to maintain our filings, cause prospective students not to enroll or stay enrolled, cause schools and teachers to not adopt or cease their use of our smart in-school classroom solution, or subject us to third-party lawsuits, regulatory fines or other action or liability. Further, any reputational damage resulting from breach of our security measures could create distrust of our company by prospective students, teachers, parents or investors. We may be required to expend significant additional resources to protect us against the threat of security measures breaches or to alleviate problems caused by such disruptions or breaches.

We are subject to a variety of laws and other obligations regarding data protection, and any failure to comply with applicable laws and obligations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our business generates and processes a large quantity of personal and behavioral data. We face risks inherent in handling large volumes of data and in protecting the security and privacy of such data. We are subject to various regulatory requirements relating to the security and privacy of data, including restrictions on the collection, storage and use of personal information and requirements to take steps to prevent personal data from being divulged, stolen, or tampered with. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Internet Information Security and Privacy Protection.” Regulatory requirements regarding the

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protection and privacy of data are constantly evolving and can be subject to differing interpretations or significant change, making the extent of our responsibilities in that regard uncertain. For example, the Cybersecurity Law of the PRC became effective in June 2017, but there are great uncertainties as to the interpretation and application of the law. It is possible that those regulatory requirements may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our practices. In addition, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or the MIIT, the Ministry of Public Security, and the State Administration for Market Regulation jointly issued an announcement on January 23, 2019 regarding carrying out special campaigns against mobile internet application programs collecting and using personal information in violation of applicable laws and regulations, which prohibits business operators from collecting personal information irrelevant to their services, or forcing users to give authorization in disguised manner. Furthermore, the Cyberspace Administration of China issued the Provisions on the Cyber Protection of Childrens Personal Information on August 22, 2019, which took effect on October 1, 2019. The Provisions on the Cyber Protection of Childrens Personal Information requires, among others, that network operators who collect, store, use, transfer and disclose personal information of children under the age of 14 shall establish special rules and user agreements for the protection of childrens personal information, inform the childrens guardians in a noticeable and clear manner, and shall obtain the consent of the childrens guardians. We have been taking and will continue to take reasonable measures to comply with such announcement and provisions; however, as the announcement and provisions are relatively new, we cannot assure you we can adapt our operations to it in a timely manner. Evolving interpretations of such announcements and provisions or any future regulatory changes might impose additional restrictions on us generating and processing personal and behavioral data. We may be subject to additional regulations, laws and policies adopted by the PRC government to apply more stringent social and ethical standards in data privacy resulting from the increased global focus on this area. To the extent that we need to alter our business model or practices to adapt to these announcement and provisions and future regulations, laws and policies, we could incur additional expenses.

Any failure, or perceived failure, by us, or by our third-party partners, to maintain the security of our user data or to comply with applicable privacy, data security and personal information protection laws, regulations, policies, contractual provisions, industry standards, and other requirements, may result in civil or regulatory liability, including governmental or data protection authority enforcement actions and investigations, fines, penalties, enforcement orders requiring us to cease operating in a certain way, litigation, or adverse publicity, and may require us to expend significant resources in responding to and defending allegations and claims. Moreover, claims or allegations that we have failed to adequately protect our users’ data, or otherwise violated applicable privacy, data security and personal information protection laws, regulations, policies, contractual provisions, industry standards, or other requirements, may result in damage to our reputation and a loss of confidence in us by our students, teachers, parents or our partners, potentially causing us to lose course enrollments, school partners, content providers, other business partners and revenues, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique global and industry-wide challenges, including challenges to our business. In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of many corporate offices and schools across China. Given the strict quarantine measures put in place during this period, normal economic activity throughout China was sharply curtailed and normal in-school education was temporarily suspended. All of our revenues and our workforce are concentrated in China. Consequently, to the extent that COVID-19 exerts long-term negative impact on the Chinese economy, our results of operations and financial performance may be adversely affected. Since we lease offices and live-broadcasting studios in certain Chinese cities to support our online after-school tutoring service operation, research and development and daily operations, the COVID-19 outbreak caused temporary office and studio closures and rotation arrangements from late January to early May 2020, resulting in lower work efficiency and productivity. COVID-19 also temporarily caused our teacher service team to be unable to provide face-to-face customer service to our teacher users, which negatively impacted our user experience among school teachers. During this period impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as a result of the temporary closure of schools in China, students were prompted to engage in more online education as they study at home, which has positively affected the online after-school tutoring industry, including us. In addition, the number of schools and teachers that adopted our smart in-school classroom solution also grew more rapidly during this period of temporary school closure and more school administrators and education department officials gained insights into the benefits and advantages of our smart in-school classroom solution and products and became more open to accepting the

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integration of technology and teaching in the classroom. However, some of our third-party service providers may have experienced business interruptions during the period of COVID-19 outbreak, which may have led to lower efficiency and quality in services provided to us and our students. For example, our third-party service providers that support students in our trial courses experienced difficulties in recruiting sufficient numbers of qualified workers to meet our increased demand from late January to early May 2020.

Many of the quarantine measures within China have since been relaxed as of the date of this annual report, and we have resumed normal operations since early May 2020. While the duration and further development of the pandemic, and its disruption to our business and related financial impact cannot be reasonably estimated at this time, our consolidated results of operations for 2020 have not been materially affected by continued impacts from COVID-19. However, our results of operations may still be adversely affected to the extent that COVID-19 continues to affect the Chinese economy in general. In addition, the longer-term trajectory of COVID-19, both in terms of scope and intensity of the pandemic, in China as well as globally, together with its impact on the industry and the broader economy are still difficult to assess or predict and face significant uncertainties that will be difficult to quantify. Relaxation of restrictions on economic and social activities may also lead to new cases which may lead to re-imposed restrictions. If there is not a material recovery in the COVID-19 situation, or the situation further deteriorates in China or globally, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.

If third-party education materials publishers and partners refuse to grant us intellectual property rights to educational content on acceptable terms or terminate their agreements with us, or if we are unable to adequately protect their educational content rights, our business could be adversely affected.

We rely on licenses from third-party education materials publishers and partners to distribute digital education textbook content to our school partners, teachers and students and to develop our other education products and content. We do not have long-term contracts or arrangements with most publishers and partners that guarantee the availability of such digital content. If we are unable to secure and maintain the rights to distribute, or otherwise use, the digital content upon terms that are acceptable to us, or if the publishers terminate their agreements with us, we would not be able to acquire such digital content from other sources and our ability to attract more schools and teachers to adopt our smart in-school classroom solution or new students to enroll in our online after-school tutoring services and retain existing schools, teachers and students could be adversely impacted. Some of our licenses give the publisher the right to withdraw our rights to distribute or use the digital content without cause and/or give the publisher the right to terminate the entire license agreement without cause. If a publisher exercises such a right, this could adversely affect our business and results of operations. Moreover, to the extent we are able to secure and maintain rights to distribute, or otherwise use, the digital textbook content, our competitors may be able to obtain the same rights on more favorable terms.

In addition, our ability to distribute, or otherwise use, the digital textbook content depends on publishers’ belief that we include effective digital rights management technology to control access to such digital content. If the digital rights management technology that we use is compromised or otherwise malfunctions, we could be subject to claims, and publishers may be unwilling to include their content in our product and service offerings, which would adversely affect our business and prospects.

Refunds or potential refund disputes of our course fees may negatively affect our cash flows, financial condition, and reputation.

For our online courses, we offer refunds for any remaining classes in a course to students who withdraw from the course. The refund is equal to the amount related to the undelivered classes. In addition, if students withdraw from a course 30 minutes before the start of the third class, they are offered a full, unconditional refund. The number of refund requests and the amount of refunds could be affected by a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control. These factors include, without limitation to, student dissatisfaction with our teaching quality and our educational content offerings, a perceived decline in our teaching quality due to the departure of popular instructors, privacy concerns relating to our services, negative publicity regarding us or online education in general, and any change or development in PRC laws and regulations with respect to fees and tuitions charged by online education service providers like us. Any refund payments that we may be required to make to our students, as well as the expenses we could incur for processing refunds and resolving refund disputes, could be substantial and could adversely affect our business operations and financial condition. A high volume of refunds and refund disputes may also generate negative publicity that could harm our reputation.

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The success and future growth of our business will be affected by teacher, student and parent acceptance of and market trends in integration of technology and education.

We operate at the intersection of the education and technology industries, and our business model features integrating technology closely with education to provide a more efficient and engaging learning experience. However, the integration of technology and education remains a relatively new concept in China, and there are limited proven methods to project user demand or preference or available industry standards on which we can rely. For example, despite the growing adoption of schools and teachers of our smart in-school classroom solution, there is no guarantee that it will also be well received by the broader education and teaching community. In addition, even with the proliferation of internet and mobile devices in China, we believe that some of our target students and their parents may still be inclined to choose traditional, face-to-face courses over online courses as they find the former more intimate and reliable. We cannot assure you that our products and services will continue to be attractive to our users in the future. If our smart in-school classroom solution and online after-school tutoring services, both of which utilize data insights and technology, become less appealing to our users, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

Any significant disruption to or failures of our information technology systems, including events beyond our control, could reduce student satisfaction and could harm our reputation and cause our education services to be less attractive to our students.

The performance and reliability of our information technology system is critical to our operations and reputation. Our network infrastructure is currently deployed and our data is currently mainly maintained through several third-party internet data centers and cloud computing service providers in China. Our operations depend on each of the data centers’ and service providers’ ability to protect its and our system in its facilities against events such as damage or interruption from natural disasters, power or telecommunications failures, air quality issues, environmental conditions, computer viruses or attempts to harm our systems, criminal acts and similar events, which events are beyond our control. If our arrangements with such data centers and service providers are terminated or if there is a lapse of service or damage to any of their facilities, we could experience interruptions in our service. Although we continually back up our databases on both real-time and delayed bases, we may still lose important operating data or suffer disruption to our operations if there is a failure of the database system or the backup system. We may be required to invest significant resources in protecting against the foregoing technological disruptions, or to remediate problems and damages caused by such incidents, which could increase the cost of our business and in turn adversely affect our financial conditions and results of operations. We cannot assure you that we will be able to expand our information technology infrastructure in a timely and cost-effective manner to meet the increasing demands of our business growth. Any interruptions in the accessibility of or deterioration of the quality of access to our system could reduce teachers’, students’ and parents’ satisfaction and reduce the attractiveness of our smart in-school classroom solution and online K-12 tutoring course offerings, which would result in reduction in the number of teachers using our smart in-school classroom solution and number of students enrolling in our after-school tutoring courses. Although we have not experienced any significant disruptions to or failures of our information technology systems, we cannot assure you that such disruptions or failures will not happen in the future.

In addition, we rely on third-party mobile application distribution channels, such as Apple’s App Store and Android application stores, to distribute our mobile applications to students, teachers and parents. As such, the promotion, distribution and operation of our mobile applications are subject to such distribution channels’ standard terms and policies for application developers, which are subject to the interpretation of, and frequent changes by, these distribution channels. If Apple’s App Store or any other major distribution channel interprets or changes its standard terms and conditions in a manner that is detrimental to us in the future, or terminate its existing relationship with us, or if any third-party infringement claims are brought against our mobile applications, our mobile applications could be temporarily or permanently removed from such third-party mobile application distribution channels and our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

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If we fail to adopt new technologies that are important to our business, in particular the technology upgrades related to live broadcasting and AI, our competitive position and ability to generate revenues may be materially and adversely affected.

The technology used in internet and value-added telecommunications services in general, and in online education services in particular, may evolve and change over time. We believe our technologies are core to our success and are critical to the implementation of our business model. In particular, implementation of technologies to improve teaching efficiency is an important part of our smart in-school classroom solution and is critical to attracting new teachers to adopt our solution. As an education technology company, we must anticipate and adapt to such technological changes and adopt new technologies in a timely fashion. We also rely on our data and technology capabilities to build and maintain our platform and infrastructure. We cannot assure you that we can keep up with the fast pace of the technology industry, and continue to develop, innovate and utilize our proprietary capabilities. In particular, the application of technology in education is still at an early stage and under exploration. Our technologies may become obsolete or insufficient, and we may have difficulties in following and adapting to technological changes in the online education industry in a timely and cost-effective manner. New solutions and technologies developed and introduced by competitors could render our technology obsolete. Developing and integrating new technologies into our existing programs and algorithms could be expensive and time-consuming. We may not succeed in developing and incorporating new technologies at all. If we fail to continue to develop, innovate and utilize our technologies effectively and on a timely basis, our business, financial performance and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

If our AI programs or proprietary data analytics algorithms, especially those related to localized and real-time educational content generation, are flawed or ineffective, our business and reputation could be harmed.

We rely on our proprietary data analytics algorithms to analyze student homework and academic assessment results data and based thereon to generate personalized and localized recommended study questions for students and teachers to aid in their learning and teaching, respectively, and to continually develop and improve the educational content offered in our online after-school tutoring courses. Although we have invested substantially in the development and continued improvement of our algorithms, we cannot assure you that our algorithms do not and will not carry any flaw or defect that could compromise our data analysis results. Particularly, some of these flaws or defects may not become evident until the algorithm is put to actual usage or after its continued failure to accurately generate on-point personalized or localized study question recommendations. Even if the algorithm is properly designed, its performance may be affected by the quality and volume of student learning performance data we aggregated. We also expect to experience significant growth in the amount of data we need to process as we continue to develop our business and enlarge our student base. As the amount of data and variables we process increases, the calculations that our algorithms must process become increasingly complex and the likelihood of any defect or error increases. In addition, a significant component of our smart in-school classroom solution is powered by our AI programs, which address complex challenges such as autoscoring, speech recognition and evaluation and grammar error detection. We may incur significant expenses to remediate any defects in our AI programs or data analytics algorithms, or may not be able to correct them at all. Although we have not experienced any material defects to date, we cannot assure you that our AI programs and algorithms are flawless. If any incidents of material defects took place, our student and teacher experiences with our products and courses would be significantly harmed, and they may lose confidence and trust in our products and courses. As a result, we may incur significant reputational damage and market share loss.

Inability to adequately and promptly respond to changes in examination systems, admission standards, test materials, teaching methods and regulation changes in the PRC could render our courses and services less attractive to students.

In China, school admissions rely heavily on examination results, and students’ performance in these exams is critical to their education and future employment prospects. It is therefore common for students to take after-school tutoring classes to improve their test performance, and the success of our business to a large extent depends on the continued use of entrance exams or tests by schools in their admissions. However, such heavy emphasis on examination scores may decline or fall out of favor with educational institutions or government authorities in China.

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Admission and assessment processes undergo constant changes, in terms of subject and skill focus, question type, examination format and the manner in which the processes are administered. We are therefore required to continually update and enhance our curricula, course materials and teaching methods. Any failure to respond to the changes in a timely and cost-effective manner will adversely impact the marketability of our courses and products, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Regulations and policies that decrease the weight of scholastic competition achievements in the admissions process mandated by government authorities or adopted by schools may have an impact on our enrollments. For example, the MOE issued certain implementation guidelines to clarify that local educational administrative departments at all levels, public schools and private schools are not allowed to use examinations to select their students for admission to middle schools from primary schools. As a result, public schools may not use various competitions or examination certificates as the criteria or basis for enrollment. Failure to track and respond to these changes in a timely and cost-effective manner would render our courses, services and products less attractive to students, which may materially and adversely affect our reputation and ability to continue to attract students.

We may not be able to timely develop our educational content in a cost-effective manner to make them appealing to existing and prospective students, or at all.

Our educational content development team works closely with our instructors on developing, updating and improving our existing courses and educational content and developing new courses and educational content to stay abreast of the latest educational trends and changes in education curricula and textbook content in their respective subject areas. The adjustments, updates and expansions of our existing courses and educational content and the development of new courses and educational content may not be accepted by existing or prospective students. Even if we are able to develop acceptable new course materials, we may not be able to introduce them as quickly as students require or as quickly as our competitors introduce competing offerings. Furthermore, offering new courses and educational content or upgrading existing ones may require us to commit significant resources and make significant investments in educational content development. If we are unsuccessful in pursuing educational content development and upgrading opportunities due to the financial constraints, failure to attract educational content development professionals or qualified instructors, or other factors, our ability to attract and retain students could be impaired and our financial results could suffer.

We cannot assure you that we will not be subject to liability claims for any inappropriate or illegal content in our educational content offerings, which could cause us to incur legal costs and damages our reputation.

Although we implement various content monitoring procedures, we cannot assure you that there will be no inappropriate or illegal content included in our educational content or applications and websites. In addition, our quiz questions designed internally based on our understanding of the relevant examination requirements may be investigated by the regulatory authorities. We may face civil, administrative or criminal liability or legal or regulatory sanctions, such as requiring us to restrict or discontinue our content, products or services, if an individual or corporate, governmental or other entity believes that any of our educational content or content displayed on our applications and websites violates any laws, regulations or governmental policies or infringes upon its legal rights. Even if such a claim were not successful, defending such a claim may cause us to incur substantial costs. Moreover, any accusation of inappropriate or illegal content in our educational content offerings or our applications and websites could lead to significant negative publicity, which could harm our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.

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The recognition of our brand may be adversely affected by any negative publicity concerning us and our business, shareholders, affiliates, directors, officers, instructors and other employees and tutors and other workers supplied by third-party service providers, as well as the industry in which we operate, regardless of its accuracy, that could harm our reputation and business.

We believe that the market recognition of our brand has significantly contributed to the success of our business and that maintaining and enhancing our brand recognition is critical to sustaining our competitive advantages. Negative publicity about us and our business, shareholders, affiliates, directors, officers, instructors, offline teacher service representatives and other employees and tutors and other full-time and part-time workers supplied by third-party service providers, as well as the industry in which we operate, can harm the recognition of our brand. Negative publicity, regardless of merits, could be related to a wide variety of matters, including but not limited to:

 

alleged misconduct or other improper activities committed by our students or our directors, officers, instructors, offline teacher service representatives and other employees and tutors and other full-time and part-time workers supplied by third-party service providers, including misrepresentation made by our employees or full-time and part-time workers supplied by third-party service providers to potential students, teachers and parents during sales and marketing activities, and other fraudulent activities to artificially inflate the popularity of our products, services or course offerings;

 

false or malicious allegations or rumors about us or our directors, shareholders, affiliates, officers, instructors, offline teacher service representatives and other employees and tutors and other workers supplied by third-party service providers;

 

complaints by our students and their parents about our course offerings;

 

complaints by students, teachers and parents about our smart in-school classroom solution and products;

 

refund disputes of course fees between us and our students and their parents or administrative penalties;

 

security breaches of private user or transaction data;

 

employment-related claims relating to alleged employment discrimination, wage and hour violations; and

 

governmental and regulatory investigations or penalties resulting from our failure to comply with applicable laws, regulations and policies, including those adopted by the government to apply more stringent social, ethical and environmental standards in connection with increased global focus on these areas.

For example, in October 2018, it was reported that certain of our self-directed learning resources contained certain interactive, multi-media features that distracted students from learning and, in some cases, caused students to spend money on certain functions. We responded quickly to such reports and conducted a thorough internal investigation of all of our applications and learning resources to modify or remove, as applicable, any potentially improper content and features in such applications and resources. We also ceased to provide such self-directed learning resources and offered to refund money that were spent by students.

In addition to traditional media, there has been an increasing use of social media platforms and similar technologies in China, including instant messaging applications, social media websites and other forms of internet-based communications that provide individuals with access to a broad audience of consumers and other interested persons. The availability of information on instant messaging applications and social media platforms is virtually immediate as is its impact without affording us an opportunity for redress or correction. The opportunity for dissemination of information, including inaccurate information, is seemingly limitless and readily available. Information concerning our company, shareholders, affiliates, directors, officers, instructors, offline teacher service representatives and other employees and tutors and other workers supplied by third-party service providers, may be posted on such platforms at any time. The risks associated with any such negative publicity or incorrect or misleading information cannot be completely eliminated or mitigated and may materially harm the recognition of our brand, reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.

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If our senior management and other key personnel are unable to work together effectively or efficiently or if we lose their services, our business may be severely affected.

The continued services of our senior management and other key personnel are important to our continued success. In particular, we rely on the expertise and experience of Mr. Andy Chang Liu, our founder, chairman and CEO. We also rely on the experience and services from other senior management. If they cannot work together effectively or efficiently, our business may be severely disrupted. If one or more of our senior management were unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, we might not be able to replace them easily or at all, and our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. Competition for experienced management personnel in the online education industry is intense, the pool of qualified candidates is limited, and we may not be able to retain the services of our senior executives or key personnel, or to attract and retain high-quality senior executives or key personnel in the future. If any of our senior management joins a competitor or forms a competing business, we may lose students, teaching staff, and other key professionals and staff members. Our senior management has entered into employment agreements with us which contain confidentiality and non-compete clauses. However, if any dispute arises between our senior management and us, we may have to incur substantial costs and expenses in order to enforce such agreements in China or we may be unable to enforce them at all.

Our success also depends on our having highly trained content and product development, financial, technical, human resource, sales and marketing staff, management personnel and qualified and dedicated instructors and tutors. We will need to continue to hire additional personnel as our business grows. A shortage in the supply of personnel with requisite skills or our failure to recruit them could impede our ability to increase revenues from our existing courses, products and services, to launch new offerings and to expand our operations, and would have an adverse effect on our business and financial results.

We are subject to third-party payment processing-related risks.

We accept payments through major third-party online payment channels in China, as well as bank transfers for our customers. We may also be susceptible to fraud, user data leakage and other illegal activities in connection with the various payment methods we offer. In addition, our business depends on the billing, payment and escrow systems of the third-party payment service providers to maintain accurate records of payments by customers and collect such payments. If the quality, utility, convenience or attractiveness of these payment processing and escrow services declines, or if we have to change the pattern of using these payment services for any reason, the attractiveness of our company could be materially and adversely affected. We are also subject to various rules, regulations and requirements, regulatory or otherwise, governing electronic funds transfers which could change or be reinterpreted to make it difficult or impossible for us to comply. If we fail to comply with these rules or requirements, we may be subject to fines and higher transaction fees and become unable to accept the current online payments solutions from our customers, and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. Business involving online payment services is subject to a number of risks that could materially and adversely affect third-party online payment service providers’ ability to provide payment processing and escrow services to us, including:

 

dissatisfaction with these online payment services or decreased use of their services;

 

increasing competition, including from other established Chinese internet companies, payment service providers and companies engaged in other financial technology services;

 

changes to rules or practices applicable to payment systems that link to third-party online payment service providers;

 

breach of customers’ personal information and concerns over the use and security of information collected from buyers;

 

service outages, system failures or failures to effectively scale the system to handle large and growing transaction volumes;

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increasing costs to third-party online payment service providers, including fees charged by banks to process transactions through online payment channels, which would also increase our cost of revenues; and

 

failure to manage funds accurately or loss of funds, whether due to employee fraud, security breaches, technical errors or otherwise.

Our brand image, business and results of operations may be adversely impacted by misconduct, improper activities and misuse of our product and service offerings by users, employees and workers supplied by third-party service providers, many of which are beyond our control.

We allow instructors and tutors to engage in real-time communication with our students and their parents. Our courses undergo multiple rounds of internal review and pilot testing before being broadly released. We regularly and actively monitor our live courses, chat messages and other content and communications on our platform to ensure that we are able to identify content that may be deemed inappropriate or in violation of laws, regulations and government policies. When any inappropriate or illegal content is identified, we promptly remove the content. However, since we have limited control over the real-time and offline behavior of our students, instructors, tutors supplied by third-party service providers and other users, to the extent any improper behavior is associated with our content, applications or websites, our ability to protect our brand image and reputation may be limited. In addition, if any of our students, instructors, tutors supplied by third-party service providers or other users suffer or allege to have suffered physical, financial or emotional harm following contact initiated through our content, applications or websites, we may face civil lawsuits or other liabilities initiated by the affected individual or governmental or regulatory actions against us. In response to allegations of illegal or inappropriate activities conducted on our applications or websites or any negative media coverage about us, PRC governmental authorities may intervene and hold us liable for non-compliance with PRC laws and regulations concerning the dissemination of information on the internet and subject us to administrative penalties or other sanctions, such as requiring us to restrict or discontinue some of the content, features and services provided through our applications or websites. As a result, our business may suffer and our brand image, student and teacher base, results of operations and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

We are exposed to the risk of other types of fraud or other misconduct by employees and tutors supplied by third-party service providers. Other types of misconduct include, but are not limited to, intentionally failing to comply with government regulations, engaging in unauthorized activities when interacting with our students and during the course of their work, such as mishandling student records and data, and making misrepresentation to our prospective students, teachers and school partners during marketing activities, all of which could harm our business and reputation. It is not always possible to deter misconduct by employees and tutors supplied by third-party service providers, and such risks are greater with respect to misconduct, improper activities and misuse of our products and data by tutors of paid courses and teaching staff of trial courses supplied by third-party service providers, over whom we have less control as they are not our own employees. Although we set out confidentiality and conduct requirements for such tutors in our agreements with third-party service providers and third-party service providers set out similar requirements in their employment or service contracts with such tutors, and we oversee the performance of such tutors supplied by third-party service providers and request these third-party service companies to replace workers that engage in misconduct and illegal activities, such efforts may not be effective in controlling and deterring misconduct and improper activities. The precautions we take to prevent and detect misconduct by employees and tutors supplied by third-party service providers may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses, which could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Increases in labor costs, inflation and implementation of stricter labor laws in the PRC may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

The currently effective PRC Labor Contract Law took effect from January 1, 2008 and was later amended on December 28, 2012. The PRC Labor Contract Law has reinforced the protection of employees who, under the PRC Labor Contract Law, have the right, among others, to have written employment contracts, to enter into employment contracts with no fixed term under certain circumstances, to receive overtime wages and to terminate or alter terms in labor contracts. Furthermore, the PRC Labor Contract Law sets forth additional restrictions and increases the costs involved with dismissing employees. To the extent that we need to significantly reduce our workforce, the PRC Labor Contract Law could adversely affect our ability to do so in a timely and cost-effective

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manner, and our results of operations could be adversely affected. In addition, for employees whose employment contracts include noncompetition terms, the PRC Labor Contract Law requires us to pay monthly compensation after such employment is terminated, which will increase our operating expenses. Because the PRC governmental authorities have introduced various new labor-related regulations since the PRC Labor Contract Law took effect, and the interpretation and implementation of these regulations are still evolving, our employment practices could violate the PRC Labor Contract Law and related regulations and could be subject to related penalties, fines or legal fees. If we are subject to severe penalties or incur significant legal fees in connection with labor law disputes or investigations, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

We engage independent third-party service providers to recruit, train and manage tutors of paid courses and teaching staff of trial courses at our request and settle payment of service fees to such third-party service providers. But we cannot preclude the possibility that these workers supplied by third-party service providers may be classified as “dispatched workers” by courts, arbitration tribunals or government agencies. In December 2012, the Labor Contract Law was amended and in January 2014, the Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch were promulgated, to impose more stringent requirements on the use of employees of temp agencies, who are known in China as “dispatched workers.” For example, the number of dispatched workers may not exceed a certain percentage of the total number of employees and the dispatched workers can only engage in temporary, auxiliary or substitutable work. However, since the application and interpretation of the PRC Labor Contract Law and the Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch are limited and uncertain, we cannot assure you our business operation will be deemed to be in full compliance with them. If we are found to be in violation of any requirements under the Labor Contract Law, the Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch or their related rules and regulations, we may be ordered by the labor authority to rectify the non-compliance by entering into written employment contracts with the deemed “dispatched workers,” or be subject to regulatory penalty, other sanction or liability or be subject to labor disputes.

We expect that our labor costs, including wages and employee benefits, will continue to increase. Unless we are able to pass on these increased labor costs to our customers by attracting new customers or increasing the prices of our products and courses, our financial conditions and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.

Our results of operations are subject to seasonal fluctuations.

Our industry generally experiences seasonality, primarily due to seasonal changes in service days and course enrollments. For example, we may generate higher growth in net revenues in the second and fourth quarters in the future because of the increased paid course enrollments for the spring and fall semesters. We may also experience lower net margin in the first and third quarters in the future, primarily due to higher sales and marketing expenses resulting from increased enrollments in our promotional courses for the summer and winter holiday seasons. Overall, the historical seasonality of our business has been relatively mild due to our rapid growth, but seasonality may increase in the future. Due to our limited operating history, the seasonal trends that we have experienced in the past may not be indicative of our future operating results. Our financial condition and results of operations for future periods may continue to fluctuate. As a result, the trading price of our ADSs may fluctuate from time to time due to seasonality.

We have granted, and expect to continue to grant, share-based awards under our share incentive plans, which may result in increased share-based compensation expenses.

We adopted share incentive plans in 2015, 2018 and 2020, or the 2015 Plan, the 2018 Plan and the 2020 Plan, respectively, for the purpose of granting share-based compensation awards to employees, officers, directors and consultants to incentivize their performance and promote the success of our business. As of February 28, 2021, the maximum aggregate number of ordinary shares that may be issued under the 2015 Plan, the 2018 Plan and the 2020 Plan is 59,899,375, 25,703,602 and 20,521,221, respectively. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation of Directors and Executive Officers—Share Incentive Plans.” We recorded RMB123.5 million, RMB93.1 million and RMB356.0 million (US$54.6 million) in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, in share-based compensation expenses. We expect to continue to grant awards under our share incentive plans, which we believe is of significant importance to our ability to attract and retain key personnel and employees. As a result, our expenses associated with share-based compensation may increase, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

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If we cannot maintain our corporate culture as we grow, we could lose the innovation, collaboration and focus that contribute to our business.

We believe that a critical component of our success is our corporate culture, which fosters innovation and has roots in genuine care for children’s education and a deep understanding of our students, teachers and schools as well as the evolving education industry in China. As we continue to expand and grow our business, we may find it difficult to maintain these valuable aspects of our corporate culture. Any failure to preserve our culture could undermine our reputation in the marketplace and negatively impact our ability to attract and retain employees and students, which would in turn jeopardize our future success.

We face risks related to natural and other disasters, including severe weather conditions or outbreaks of health epidemics, and other extraordinary events, which could significantly disrupt our operations.

In addition to the impact of COVID-19, our business could be materially and adversely affected by natural disasters, other health epidemics or other public safety concerns affecting the PRC, and particularly Beijing. Natural disasters may give rise to server interruptions, breakdowns, system failures, technology platform failures, internet failures or other operation interruptions for us and our service providers, which could cause the loss or corruption of data or malfunction of software or hardware as well as adversely affect our ability and the ability of our service providers to conduct daily operations and to deliver our products and course offerings. Our business could also be adversely affected if employees of ours or our service providers are affected by health epidemics. In addition, our results of operations could be adversely affected to the extent that any health epidemic harms the Chinese economy in general.

Our headquarters are located in Beijing, where most of our directors and management and the majority of our employees currently reside. Most of our system hardware and back-up systems are hosted in facilities located in Beijing and most of our service providers are located in Beijing. Consequently, if any natural disasters, health epidemics or other public safety concerns were to affect Beijing, our operation may experience material disruptions, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We have limited business insurance coverage, which could expose us to significant costs and business disruption.

Insurance companies in China currently do not offer as extensive an array of insurance products as insurance companies in more developed economies. We do not maintain any liability insurance or property insurance policies covering students, equipment and facilities for injuries, death or losses due to fire, earthquake, flood or any other disaster. Consistent with customary industry practice in China, we do not maintain business interruption insurance, nor do we maintain key-man life insurance. We have determined that the costs of insuring for these risks and the difficulties associated with acquiring such insurance on commercially reasonable terms make it impractical for us to have such insurance. Any uninsured business disruptions may result in our incurring substantial costs and the diversion of resources, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

If we fail to develop and maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may be unable to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud, and investor confidence and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely impacted.

Prior to our initial public offering, we have been a private company with limited accounting personnel and other resources with which to address our internal controls. In the course of preparing our consolidated financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2019, we identified one material weakness and other control deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting. As defined in the standards established by the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a “material weakness” is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

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The material weakness that has been identified relates to our lack of sufficient skilled staff with appropriate knowledge of U.S. GAAP for the purpose of financial reporting and our lack of formal accounting policies and procedures manual to ensure proper financial reporting to comply with U.S. GAAP and SEC requirements. The material weakness, if not timely remedied, may lead to significant misstatements in our consolidated financial statements in the future. Following the identification of the material weakness, we have taken measures and plan to continue to take measures to remediate these control deficiencies. See Item 15. Controls and Procedures—Internal Control Over Financial Reporting. As of December 31, 2020, based on our management’s assessment on the performance of the remediation measures, we determined that the material weakness had been remediated. In the future we may determine that we have additional material weaknesses, or our independent registered public accounting firm may disagree with our management assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls.

Since our initial public offering, we have become a public company in the United States and are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules and regulations of the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Section 404, requires that we include a report from management on our internal control over financial reporting in our annual report on Form 20-F beginning with our annual report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2021. In addition, once we cease to be an “emerging growth company” as such term is defined in the JOBS Act, our independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.

During the course of documenting and testing our internal control procedures, in order to satisfy the requirements of Section 404, we may identify other or more material weaknesses or deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting. In addition, if we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control over financial reporting, as these standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 and our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude that we have effective internal control over financial reporting at a reasonable assurance level. Generally speaking, if we fail to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment, we could suffer material misstatements in our financial statements and fail to meet our reporting obligations, which would likely cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information. This could in turn limit our access to capital markets, harm our results of operations and lead to a decline in the trading price of our ADSs. Additionally, ineffective internal control over financial reporting could expose us to increased risk of fraud or misuse of corporate assets and subject us to potential delisting from the stock exchange on which we list, regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions. We may also be required to restate our consolidated financial statements for prior periods. Furthermore, we have incurred and anticipate that we will continue to incur considerable costs, management time and other resources in an effort to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other requirements.

Our operations depend on the performance of the internet infrastructure and telecommunications networks in China.

The successful operation of our business depends on the performance of the internet infrastructure and telecommunications networks in China. Almost all access to the internet is maintained through state-owned telecommunications operators under the administrative control and regulatory supervision of the MIIT. Moreover, we have entered into contracts with various subsidiaries of a limited number of telecommunications service providers at provincial level and rely on them to provide us with data communications capacity through local telecommunications lines. We have limited access to alternative networks or services in the event of disruptions, failures or other problems with China’s internet infrastructure or the telecommunications networks provided by telecommunications service providers. We regularly serve a large number of parents, students and teachers. With the expansion of our business, we may be required to upgrade our technology and infrastructure to keep up with the increasing traffic on our online applications and websites. However, we have no control over the costs of the services provided by telecommunications service providers. If the prices we pay for telecommunications and internet services rise significantly, our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. If internet access fees or other charges to internet users increase, our user traffic may decline and our business may be harmed.

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We may need additional capital in the future to pursue our business objectives. If we cannot obtain additional capital on acceptable terms, or at all, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

We may need to raise additional capital to respond to business challenges or opportunities, accelerate our growth, develop new offerings or enhance our technological capacities. Due to the unpredictable nature of the capital markets and our industry, there can be no assurance that we will be able to raise additional capital on terms favorable to us, or at all, if and when required, especially if we experience disappointing results of operations. If adequate capital is not available to us as required, our ability to fund our operations, take advantage of unanticipated opportunities, develop or enhance our infrastructure or respond to competitive pressures could be significantly limited. If we do raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, the ownership interests of our shareholders could be significantly diluted. These newly issued securities may have rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of existing shareholders.

We may not be able to achieve the benefits we expect from future investments and acquisitions.

We may make equity investments in or acquisitions of additional businesses, assets and technologies that complement our existing business in the future. This may include opportunities to expand our offerings and strengthen our technology and data capabilities. If the businesses or assets we acquire or invest in do not subsequently generate the anticipated financial performance or if any goodwill impairment test triggering event occurs, we may need to revalue or write down the value of goodwill and other intangible assets in connection with such acquisitions or investments, which would harm our results of operations. In addition, investments and acquisitions could result in the use of substantial amounts of cash, potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities, significant amortization expenses related to intangible assets, significant diversion of management attention and exposure to potential unknown liabilities of the acquired business. In addition, as we often do not have control over the companies in which we only have minority stake, we cannot ensure that these companies will always comply with applicable laws and regulations in their business operations. Material non-compliance by our investees may cause substantial harms to our reputations and the value of our investment. In addition, we may be unable to identify appropriate acquisition or strategic investment targets when it is necessary or desirable to make such acquisition or investment to remain competitive or to expand our business. Even if we identify an appropriate acquisition or investment target, we may not be able to successfully negotiate the terms of the acquisition or investment, finance the proposed transaction or integrate the relevant businesses into our existing business and operations. In the event that our investments and acquisitions are not successful, our results of operations and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

A severe and prolonged global economic recession and the slowdown in the Chinese economy may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

COVID-19 had a severe and negative impact on the Chinese and the global economy since early 2020. Whether this will lead to a prolonged downturn in the economy is still unknown, especially considering the multiple recent outbreaks in various countries and regions as well as the uncertainties brought by the newly launched vaccination programs. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the global macroeconomic environment was facing numerous challenges. The growth rate of the Chinese economy had already been slowing since 2012 compared to the previous decade and the trend may continue. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 6.6% in 2018, 6.1% in 2019, and 2.3% in 2020. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies which had been adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including the United States and China, even before 2020. Unrest, terrorist threats and the potential for war in the Middle East and elsewhere may increase market volatility across the globe. There have also been concerns about the relationship between China and other countries, including the surrounding Asian countries, which may potentially have economic effects. In particular, there is significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States and China with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs. It is unclear whether these challenges and uncertainties will be contained or resolved and what effects they may have on the global political and economic conditions in the long term. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions, as well as changes in domestic economic and political policies and the expected or perceived overall economic growth rate in China. Any severe or prolonged slowdown in the global or Chinese economy may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

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Fluctuations in exchange rates could have a material and adverse effect on the value of your investment and our results of operations.

The conversion of Renminbi into foreign currencies, including the U.S. dollar, is based on rates set by the People’s Bank of China. The Renminbi has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar and other currencies, at times significantly and unpredictably. The value of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. We cannot assure you that Renminbi will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against the U.S. dollar and other currencies in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between Renminbi and U.S. dollar in the future.

Significant revaluation of the Renminbi may have a material and adverse effect on your investment. For example, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars we receive from our initial public offering into Renminbi for our operations, appreciation of the Renminbi against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the Renminbi amount we would receive from the conversion. Conversely, if we decide to convert our Renminbi into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs or for other business purposes, appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Renminbi would have a negative effect on the U.S. dollar amount available to us.

Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. As of the date of this annual report, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure, or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert Renminbi into foreign currency.

We face certain risks relating to the real properties that we lease.

We lease real properties from third parties primarily for our office and live broadcasting studios in China, and the lease agreements for most of these leased properties have not been registered with the PRC government authorities as required by PRC law. Although the failure to do so does not in itself invalidate the leases, we may be ordered by the PRC government authorities to rectify such noncompliance and, if such noncompliance were not rectified within a given period of time, we may be subject to fines imposed by PRC government authorities ranging from RMB1,000 and RMB10,000 for those of our lease agreements that have not been registered with the relevant PRC government authorities.

As of the date of this annual report, we are not aware of any regulatory or governmental actions, claims or investigations being contemplated or any challenges by third parties to our use of our leased properties the lease agreements of which have not been registered with the government authorities. However, we cannot assure you that the government authorities will not impose fines on us due to our failure to register any of our lease agreements, which may negatively impact our financial condition.

In addition, some of the ownership certificates or other similar proof of certain leased properties have not been provided to us by the relevant lessors. Therefore, we cannot assure you that such lessors are entitled to lease the relevant real properties to us. If the lessors are not entitled to lease the real properties to us and the owners of such real properties decline to ratify the lease agreements between us and the respective lessors, we may not be able to enforce our rights to lease such properties under the respective lease agreements against the owners. As of the date of this annual report, we are not aware of any claim or challenge brought by any third parties concerning the use of our leased properties without obtaining proper ownership proof. If our lease agreements are claimed as null and void by third parties who are the real owners of such leased real properties, we could be required to vacate the properties, in the event of which we could only initiate the claim against the lessors under relevant lease agreements for indemnities for their breach of the relevant leasing agreements. We cannot assure you that suitable alternative locations are readily available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, and if we are unable to relocate our operations in a timely manner, our operations may be interrupted.

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Failure to make adequate contributions to various employee benefits plans as required by PRC regulations may subject us to penalties.

Companies operating in China are required to participate in various government-sponsored employee benefit plans, including certain social insurance, housing funds and other welfare-oriented payment obligations, and contribute to the plans in amounts equal to certain percentages of salaries, including bonuses and allowances, of employees up to a maximum amount specified by the local government from time to time at locations where our employees are based. The requirement of employee benefit plans has not been implemented consistently by the local governments in China given the different levels of economic development in different locations. To efficiently administrate the contribution of employment benefit plans of our employees in some cities, we engage third-party agents to make the contribution for our employees. Our failure in making contributions to various employee benefit plans and in complying with applicable PRC labor-related laws may subject us to late payment penalties, and we could be required to make up the contributions for these plans as well as to pay late fees and fines. If we are subject to late fees or fines in relation to the underpaid employee benefits, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, to the extent that we can make a reasonable estimate of the liability arising from our failure in making full contributions to various employee benefit plans, we record a related contingent liability. However, the amount of our estimates may be inaccurate, in which case our financial condition and cash flow may be adversely affected if we were to pay late fees or fines in relation to the underpaid employee benefits.

Our advertising content may subject us to penalties and other administrative actions.

Under PRC advertising laws and regulations, we are obligated to monitor our advertising content to ensure that such content is true and accurate and in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. In addition, education or training advertisement are further prohibited from containing content such as guarantee for passing of examination or the effect of education or training, recommendation and/or endorsement by scientific research institutes, academic institutions, educational organizations, industry associations, professionals or beneficiaries using their name or image. Violation of these laws and regulations may subject us to penalties, including fines, confiscation of our advertising income, orders to cease dissemination of the advertisements and orders to publish an announcement correcting the misleading information. In circumstances involving serious violations by us, PRC government authorities may force us to terminate our advertising operations or revoke our licenses. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Advertising.”

While we have made significant efforts to ensure that our advertisements are in full compliance with applicable PRC laws and regulations, we cannot assure you that all the content contained in our advertisements is true and accurate as required by, and complies in all aspects with, the advertising laws and regulations, especially given the uncertainty in the interpretation of these PRC laws and regulations. If we are found to be in violation of applicable PRC advertising laws and regulations, we may be subject to penalties and our reputation may be harmed, which may negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Risks Relating to Our Corporate Structure

If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating certain of our operations in China do not comply with PRC regulations relating to the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.

Foreign ownership in entities that provide value-added telecommunication services (except for e-commerce, domestic multi-party communications, store-and-forward and call center), such as provision of online course content, is subject to restrictions under current PRC laws and regulations. Specifically, foreign ownership of an internet information service provider may not exceed 50%, and the major foreign investor is required to have a record of good performance and operating experience in managing value-added telecommunications business. We are a company registered in the Cayman Islands. Shanghai WFOE and Beijing WFOE, or our wholly foreign owned entities, or our WFOEs, are our PRC subsidiaries and foreign-invested enterprises under PRC laws. To comply with PRC laws and regulations, we conduct such business activities in China primarily through Shanghai VIE, one of our VIEs. Our WFOEs have entered into a series of contractual arrangements with our respective VIEs and their respective shareholders. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.” As a result of these contractual arrangements, we exert control over our VIEs and consolidate financial results of our VIEs and their subsidiaries in our financial statements under U.S. GAAP. Our VIEs hold the licenses, approvals and key assets that are essential for our operations.

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In the opinion of our PRC counsel, Tian Yuan Law Firm, (i) the ownership structure of our VIEs and our WFOEs does not result in any violation of PRC laws and regulations currently in effect; and (ii) the contractual arrangements among each of our WFOEs, our respective VIEs and their respective shareholders governed by PRC law will not result in any violation of PRC laws or regulations currently in effect. However, we have been further advised by our PRC counsel that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current or future PRC laws and regulations. Thus, the PRC government may ultimately take a view contrary to the opinion of our PRC counsel. If the PRC government otherwise find that we are in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations or lack the necessary permits or licenses to operate our business, the relevant governmental authorities would have broad discretion in dealing with such violation, including, without limitation:

 

revoking the business licenses and/or operating licenses of such entities;

 

imposing fines on us;

 

confiscating any of our income that they deem to be obtained through illegal operations;

 

discontinuing or placing restrictions or onerous conditions on our operations;

 

placing restrictions on our right to collect revenues; and

 

shutting down our servers or blocking our application/software.

Any of these events could cause significant disruption to our business operations and severely damage our reputation, which would in turn materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If occurrences of any of these events results in our inability to direct the activities of our VIEs in China that most significantly impact its economic performance, and/or our failure to receive the economic benefits from our consolidated variable interest entities, we may not be able to consolidate their financial results in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

We rely on contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their shareholders for our business operations, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control.

We have relied and expect to continue to rely on contractual arrangements with our VIEs, and their shareholders to operate our business in China. These contractual arrangements may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us with control over our VIEs. For example, our VIEs and their shareholders could breach their contractual arrangements with us by, among other things, failing to conduct the operations of our VIEs in an acceptable manner or taking other actions that are detrimental to our interests.

If we had direct ownership of our VIEs in China, we would be able to exercise our rights as a shareholder to effect changes in the board of directors of our VIEs, which in turn could implement changes, subject to any applicable fiduciary obligations, at the management and operational level. However, under the current contractual arrangements, we rely on the performance by our VIEs and their shareholders of their obligations under the contracts to exercise control over our VIEs. The shareholders of our VIEs may not act in the best interests of our company or may not perform their obligations under these contracts. Such risks exist throughout the period in which we intend to operate certain portion of our business through the contractual arrangements with our VIEs. If any dispute relating to these contracts remains unresolved, we will have to enforce our rights under these contracts through the operations of PRC law and arbitration, litigation and other legal proceedings and therefore will be subject to uncertainties in the PRC legal system. See “—Any failure by our VIEs or their shareholders to perform their obligations under our contractual arrangements with them would have a material and adverse effect on our business.” Therefore, our contractual arrangements with our VIEs may not be as effective in ensuring our control over the relevant portion of our business operations as direct ownership would be.

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Any failure by our VIEs or their shareholders to perform their obligations under our contractual arrangements with them would have a material and adverse effect on our business.

If our VIEs or their shareholders fail to perform their respective obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and expend additional resources to enforce such arrangements. We may also have to rely on legal remedies under PRC law, including seeking specific performance or injunctive relief, and contractual remedies, which we cannot assure you will be sufficient or effective under PRC law. For example, if the shareholders of our VIEs were to refuse to transfer their equity interests in our VIEs to us or our designee if we exercise the purchase option pursuant to these contractual arrangements, or if they were otherwise to act in bad faith toward us, then we may have to take legal actions to compel them to perform their contractual obligations.

All the agreements under our contractual arrangements are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in China. Accordingly, these contracts would be interpreted in accordance with PRC law and any disputes would be resolved in accordance with PRC legal procedures. The legal system in the PRC is not as developed as in some other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. Meanwhile, there are very few precedents and little formal guidance as to how contractual arrangements in the context of a consolidated variable interest entity should be interpreted or enforced under PRC law. There remain significant uncertainties regarding the ultimate outcome of such arbitration should legal action become necessary. In addition, under PRC law, rulings by arbitrators are final, parties cannot appeal the arbitration results in courts, and if the losing parties fail to carry out the arbitration awards within a prescribed time limit, the prevailing parties may only enforce the arbitration awards in PRC courts through arbitration award recognition proceedings, which would require additional expenses and delay. In the event we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, or if we suffer significant delay or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to exert effective control over our VIEs, and our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected. See “—Risks Relating to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.”

The shareholders of our VIEs may have actual or potential conflicts of interest with us, which may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

The shareholders of our VIEs may have actual or potential conflicts of interest with us. These shareholders may breach, or cause our VIEs to breach, or refuse to renew, the existing contractual arrangements we have with them and our VIEs, which would have a material and adverse effect on our ability to effectively control our VIEs and receive economic benefits from them. For example, the shareholders may be able to cause our agreements with our VIEs to be performed in a manner adverse to us by, among other things, failing to remit payments due under the contractual arrangements to us on a timely basis. We cannot assure you that when conflicts of interest arise any or all of these shareholders will act in the best interests of our company or such conflicts will be resolved in our favor.

Currently, we do not have any arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest between these shareholders and our company, except that we could exercise our purchase option under the exclusive option agreements with these shareholders to request them to transfer all of their equity interests in the VIEs to a PRC entity or individual designated by us, to the extent permitted by PRC law. For individuals who are also our directors and officers, we rely on them to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands, which provide that directors and officers owe a fiduciary duty to the company that requires them to act in good faith and in what they believe to be the best interests of the company and not to use their position for personal gains. The shareholders of our respective VIEs have executed powers of attorney to appoint our WFOEs or a person designated by our WFOEs to vote on their behalf and exercise voting rights as shareholders of our respective VIEs. If we cannot resolve any conflict of interest or dispute between us and the shareholders of our VIEs, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.

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Contractual arrangements in relation to our VIEs may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities and they may determine that we or our PRC consolidated variable interest entities owe additional taxes, which could negatively affect our financial condition and the value of your investment.

Under applicable PRC laws and regulations, arrangements and transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities. We could face material and adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that the contractual arrangements in relation to our VIEs were not entered into on an arm’s length basis in such a way as to result in an impermissible reduction in taxes under applicable PRC laws, rules and regulations, and adjust income of our VIEs in the form of a transfer pricing adjustment. A transfer pricing adjustment could, among other things, result in a reduction of expense deductions recorded by our VIEs for PRC tax purposes, which could in turn increase their tax liabilities without reducing our PRC subsidiaries’ tax expenses. In addition, the PRC tax authorities may impose late payment fees and other penalties on our VIEs for the adjusted but unpaid taxes according to the applicable regulations. Our financial position could be materially and adversely affected if our VIEs’ tax liabilities increase or if they are required to pay late payment fees and other penalties.

Our current corporate structure and business operations may be affected by the newly enacted Foreign Investment Law.

On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress, or NPC, promulgated the Foreign Investment Law, which took effect on January 1, 2020. Since it is relatively new, uncertainties exist in relation to its interpretation and implementation. The Foreign Investment Law does not explicitly classify whether variable interest entities that are controlled through contractual arrangements would be deemed as foreign invested enterprises if they are ultimately “controlled” by foreign investors. However, it has a catch-all provision under definition of “foreign investment” that includes investments made by foreign investors in China through other means as provided by laws, administrative regulations or the State Council. Therefore, it still leaves leeway for future laws, administrative regulations or provisions of the State Council to provide for contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment, and it remains uncertain whether our contractual arrangements will be deemed to be in violation of the market access requirements for foreign investment in the PRC and if yes, how our contractual arrangements should be dealt with.

The Foreign Investment Law grants national treatment to foreign-invested entities, except for those foreign-invested entities that operate in industries specified as either “restricted” or “prohibited” from foreign investment in the Special Administrative Measures (Negative List) for Foreign Investment Access jointly promulgated by the Ministry of Commerce, or MOFCOM, and the National Development and Reform Commission, or the NDRC, as amended from time to time. The Foreign Investment Law provides that foreign-invested entities are barred from operating in “prohibited” industries and will require market entry clearance and other approvals from relevant PRC government authorities if operating in “prohibited” industries. On December 26, 2019, the Supreme People’s Court issued the Interpretations on Certain Issues Regarding the Application of Foreign Investment Law, or the FIL Interpretations, which came into effect on January 1, 2020. In accordance with the FIL Interpretations, any claim to invalidate an investment agreement will be supported by courts if such agreement is found to be entered into for purposes of making investments in the “prohibited industries” under the negative list or for purposes of investing in “restricted industries” while failing to satisfy the conditions set out in the Negative List. If our control over our VIEs through contractual arrangements are deemed as foreign investment in the future, and any business of our VIEs is “restricted” or “prohibited” from foreign investment under the “negative list” effective at the time, we may be deemed to be in violation of the Foreign Investment Law, the contractual arrangements that allow us to have control over our VIEs may be deemed as invalid and illegal, and we may be required to unwind such contractual arrangements and/or restructure our business operations, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our business operation.

Furthermore, if future laws, administrative regulations or provisions mandate further actions to be taken by companies with respect to existing contractual arrangements, we may face substantial uncertainties as to whether we can complete such actions in a timely manner, or at all. Failure to take timely and appropriate measures to cope with any of these or similar regulatory compliance challenges could materially and adversely affect our current corporate structure and business operations.

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We may lose the ability to use and enjoy assets held by our VIEs that are material to the operation of certain portion of our business if the entities go bankrupt or become subject to a dissolution or liquidation proceeding.

As part of our contractual arrangements with our VIEs, our VIEs hold certain assets that are material to the operation of certain portion of our business, including licenses, permits, domain names and most of our IP rights. If our VIEs go bankrupt and all or part of their assets become subject to liens or rights of third-party creditors, we may be unable to continue some or all of our business activities, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Under the contractual arrangements, our VIEs may not, in any manner, sell, transfer, mortgage or dispose of their assets or legal or beneficial interests in the business without our prior consent. If our VIEs undergoes a voluntary or involuntary liquidation proceeding, the independent third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of these assets, thereby hindering our ability to operate our business, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Relating to Doing Business in China

Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.

All of our operations are conducted in China, and most of our assets are located in China. Accordingly, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be influenced to a significant degree by economic, political and social conditions in China generally. The PRC economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the level of development, growth rate, level of government involvement and control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. The PRC government exercises significant control over China’s economic growth through allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy, and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies. In addition, the PRC government continues to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing relevant industrial policies.

While the PRC economy has experienced significant growth over the past decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. In addition, the rate of growth has been slowing since 2012, and the impact of COVID-19 on the Chinese and global economies in 2020 was severe. Any adverse changes in economic conditions in China, in the policies of the PRC government or in the laws and regulations in China could have a material adverse effect on the overall economic growth of China. Such developments could adversely affect our business and operating results, lead to reduction in demand for our solutions and services and adversely affect our competitive position. The PRC government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall PRC economy, but may have a negative effect on us. For example, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations. In addition, in the past, the PRC government has implemented certain measures, including interest rate adjustment, to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may cause decreased economic activity in China, which may adversely affect our business and results of operations. In addition, the increased global focus on social, ethical and environmental issues may lead to China’s adoption of more stringent standards in these areas, which may adversely impact the operations of China-based companies including us.

Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.

The PRC legal system is a civil law system based on written statutes, where prior court decisions have limited precedential value. The PRC legal system is evolving rapidly, and the interpretations of many laws, regulations and rules may contain inconsistencies and enforcement of these laws, regulations and rules involves uncertainties.

From time to time, we may have to resort to administrative and court proceedings to enforce our legal rights. However, since PRC judicial and administrative authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be more difficult to predict the outcome of a judicial or administrative proceeding than in more developed legal systems. These uncertainties may impede our ability to enforce the contracts we have entered into and could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

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Furthermore, the PRC legal system is based, in part, on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published in a timely manner, or at all, but which may have retroactive effect. As a result, we may not always be aware of any potential violation of these policies and rules. Such unpredictability towards our contractual, property (including intellectual property) and procedural rights could adversely affect our business and impede our ability to continue our operations.

You may experience difficulties in effecting service of legal process, enforcing foreign judgments or bringing actions in China against us or our management named in the annual report based on foreign laws.

We are an exempted company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands; however, we conduct all of our operations in China and most of our assets are located in China. In addition, most of our directors and executive officers are nationals or residents of jurisdictions other than the United States and most of their assets are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult for you to effect service of process upon us or our management named in the annual report inside mainland China. It may also be difficult for you to enforce in U.S. courts of the judgments obtained in U.S. courts based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws against us and our officers and directors. In addition, there is uncertainty as to whether the courts of the Cayman Islands or the PRC would recognize or enforce judgments of U.S. courts against us or such persons predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state.

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedures Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedures Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. China does not have any treaties or other forms of written arrangement with the United States that provide for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In addition, according to the PRC Civil Procedures Law, the PRC courts will not enforce a foreign judgment against us or our directors and officers if they decide that the judgment violates the basic principles of PRC laws or national sovereignty, security or public interest. As a result, it is uncertain whether and on what basis a PRC court would enforce a judgment rendered by a court in the United States.

The custodians or authorized users of our controlling non-tangible assets, including chops and seals, may fail to fulfill their responsibilities, or misappropriate or misuse these assets.

Under the PRC law, legal documents for corporate transactions, including agreements and contracts are executed using the chop or seal of the signing entity or with the signature of a legal representative whose designation is registered and filed with relevant PRC market regulation administrative authorities.

In order to secure the use of our chops and seals, we have established internal control procedures and rules for using these chops and seals. In any event that the chops and seals are intended to be used, the responsible personnel will submit the application through our office automation system and the application will be verified and approved by authorized employees in accordance with our internal control procedures and rules. In addition, in order to maintain the physical security of our chops, we generally have them stored in secured locations accessible only to authorized employees. Although we monitor such authorized employees, the procedures may not be sufficient to prevent all instances of abuse or negligence. There is a risk that our employees could abuse their authority, for example, by entering into a contract not approved by us or seeking to gain control of one of our subsidiaries or our VIEs or their subsidiaries. If any employee obtains, misuses or misappropriates our chops and seals or other controlling non-tangible assets for whatever reason, we could experience disruption to our normal business operations. We may have to take corporate or legal action, which could involve significant time and resources to resolve and divert management from our operations.

If we are classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC income tax purposes, such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders or ADS holders.

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with a “de facto management body” within China is considered a “resident enterprise” and will be subject to the enterprise income tax on its global income at the rate of 25%. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management body” as the body that exercises full and substantial control and overall management over the business, productions, personnel, accounts and properties of an enterprise. In 2009, the State Administration

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of Taxation, or the SAT, issued the Circular of the State Administration of Taxation on Issues Relating to Identification of PRC-Controlled Overseas Registered Enterprises as Resident Enterprises in Accordance with the De Facto Standards of Organizational Management, or SAT Circular 82, which provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the de facto management body of a PRC-controlled enterprise that is incorporated offshore is located in China. Although this circular only applies to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups, not those controlled by PRC individuals or foreigners, the criteria set forth in the circular may reflect SATs general position on how the de facto management body text should be applied in determining the tax resident status of all offshore enterprises. According to SAT Circular 82, an offshore incorporated enterprise controlled by a PRC enterprise or a PRC enterprise group will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having its de facto management body in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its global income only if all of the following conditions are met: (i) the primary location of the day-to-day operational management is in China; (ii) decisions relating to the enterprises financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in China; (iii) the enterprises primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals, and board and shareholder resolutions, are located or maintained in China; and (iv) at least 50% of voting board members or senior executives habitually reside in China.

We believe none of our entities outside of China is a PRC resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes. However, the tax resident status of an enterprise is subject to determination by the PRC tax authorities and uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation of the term “de facto management body.” If the PRC tax authorities determine that our company or any of our subsidiaries outside of China is a PRC resident enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, we could be subject to PRC tax at a rate of 25% on our worldwide income, which could materially reduce our net income, and we may be required to withhold a 10% withholding tax from dividends we pay to our shareholders that are non-resident enterprises, including the holders of our ADSs. In addition, non-resident enterprise shareholders (including the ADS holders) may be subject to PRC tax at a rate of 10% on gains realized on the sale or other disposition of ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, if such income is treated as sourced from within China. Furthermore, if we are deemed a PRC resident enterprise, dividends payable to our non-PRC individual shareholders (including the ADS holders) and any gain realized on the transfer of ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such shareholders may be subject to PRC tax at a rate of 10% in the case of non-PRC enterprises or a rate of 20% in the case of non-PRC individuals unless a reduced rate is available under an applicable tax treaty. It is unclear whether non-PRC shareholders of our company would be able to claim the benefits of any tax treaties between their country of tax residence and the PRC in the event that we are treated as a PRC resident enterprise. Any such tax may reduce the returns on your investment in the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares.

We face uncertainties with respect to indirect transfer of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their non-PRC holding companies.

We face uncertainties regarding the reporting on and consequences of previous private equity financing transactions involving the transfer and exchange of shares in our company by non-resident investors. In February 2015, the SAT issued the Bulletin on Issues of Enterprise Income Tax on Indirect Transfers of Assets by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises, or SAT Bulletin 7. Pursuant to SAT Bulletin 7, an ‘‘indirect transfer’’ of PRC assets, including a transfer of equity interests in an unlisted non-PRC holding company of a PRC resident enterprise, by non-PRC resident enterprises may be re-characterized and treated as a direct transfer of the underlying PRC assets, if such arrangement does not have a reasonable commercial purpose and was established for the purpose of avoiding payment of PRC enterprise income tax. As a result, gains derived from such indirect transfer may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax, and the transferee or other person who is obligated to pay for the transfer is obligated to withhold the applicable taxes, currently at a rate of 10% for the transfer of equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise. On October 17, 2017, the SAT issued the Announcement of the State Administration of Taxation on Issues Concerning the Withholding of Non-resident Enterprise Income Tax at Source, or SAT Bulletin 37, which came into effect on December 1, 2017. The SAT Bulletin 37 further clarifies the practice and procedure of the withholding of nonresident enterprise income tax. We also face uncertainties on the reporting and consequences of future private equity financing transactions, share exchanges or other transactions involving the transfer of shares in our company by investors that are non-PRC resident enterprises.

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The PRC tax authorities may pursue non-resident enterprises involved in our previous or future private equity financing transactions with respect to a filing or the transferees with respect to withholding obligation, and request our PRC subsidiaries to assist in the filing. As a result, we and non-resident enterprises in such transactions may become at risk of being subject to filing obligations or being taxed under SAT Bulletin 7 and SAT Bulletin 37, and may be required to expend valuable resources to comply with them or to establish that we and our non-resident enterprises should not be taxed under these regulations, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

If our preferential tax treatments are revoked or become unavailable or if the calculation of our tax liability is successfully challenged by the PRC tax authorities, we may be required to pay tax, interest and penalties in excess of our tax provisions.

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules, the statutory enterprise income tax rate is 25%, but certain “high and new technology enterprises strongly supported by the state,” or HNTEs, are qualified for a preferential enterprise income tax rate of 15% subject to certain qualification criteria. Currently, one of our VIEs, Shanghai VIE, enjoys a preferential enterprise income tax rate of 15% as it is recognized as a HNTE by relevant PRC governmental authorities. The qualification as an HNTE is subject to annual evaluation and a three-year review by the relevant PRC governmental authorities. If Shanghai VIE fails to maintain its HNTE status, experiences any increase in the enterprise income tax rate, or faces any discontinuation, retroactive or future reduction or refund of any of the preferential tax treatments currently enjoyed, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

Further, in the ordinary course of our business, we are subject to complex income tax and other tax regulations, and significant judgment is required in the determination of a provision for income taxes. Although we believe our tax provisions are reasonable, if the PRC tax authorities successfully challenge our position and we are required to pay tax, interest and penalties in excess of our tax provisions, our financial condition and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.

The M&A Rules and certain other PRC regulations may make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions.

The Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Companies by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules, adopted by six PRC regulatory agencies in 2006 and amended in 2009, and some other regulations and rules concerning mergers and acquisitions established complex procedures and requirements for some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors, including requirements in some instances that the MOFCOM be notified in advance of any change-of-control transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a PRC domestic enterprise. Moreover, the Anti-Monopoly Law promulgated by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or SCNPC, which became effective in 2008 requires that transactions which are deemed concentrations and involve parties with specified turnover thresholds must be cleared by the MOFCOM before they can be completed. On February 7, 2021, the Anti-monopoly Commission of the State Council, published the Anti-Monopoly Guidelines for the Internet Platform Economy Sector that aims at specifying some of the circumstances under which an activity of internet platforms may be identified as monopolistic act as well as classifying that concentrations involving variable interest entities shall be subject to anti-monopoly review. In addition, the security review rules issued by the MOFCOM that became effective in September 2011 specify that mergers and acquisitions by foreign investors that raise “national defense and security” concerns and mergers and acquisitions through which foreign investors may acquire de facto control over domestic enterprises that raise “national security” concerns are subject to strict review by the MOFCOM, and the rules prohibit any activities attempting to bypass a security review, including by structuring a transaction through a proxy or contractual control arrangement.

In the future, we may pursue potential strategic acquisitions that are complementary to our business and operations. Complying with the requirements of the above-mentioned regulations and other relevant rules to complete such transactions could be time-consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval or clearance from the MOFCOM, may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions, which could affect our ability to expand our business or maintain our market share.

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Failure to comply with PRC regulations regarding the registration requirements for employee stock ownership plans or share option plans may subject the PRC plan participants or us to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.

In February 2012, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, promulgated the Notices on Issues Concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Stock Incentive Plan of Overseas Publicly Listed Company, replacing earlier rules promulgated in 2007. Pursuant to these rules, PRC citizens and non-PRC citizens who reside in China for a continuous period of not less than one year and participate in any stock incentive plan of an overseas publicly listed company are required to register with SAFE through a domestic qualified agent, which could be the PRC subsidiaries of such overseas-listed company, and complete certain other procedures, unless certain exceptions are available. In addition, an overseas-entrusted institution must be retained to handle matters in connection with the exercise or sale of stock options and the purchase or sale of shares and interests. We and our executive officers and other employees who are PRC citizens or non-PRC citizens living in China for a continuous period of not less than one year and have been granted options are subject to these regulations as our company has become an overseas-listed company. Failure to complete SAFE registrations may subject them to fines of up to RMB300,000 for entities and up to RMB50,000 for individuals and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into our PRC subsidiaries and our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends to us. We also face regulatory uncertainties that could restrict our ability to adopt additional incentive plans for our directors, executive officers and employees under PRC law. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Foreign Exchange—Regulation on Stock Incentive Plans.”

In addition, the SAT has issued certain circulars concerning employee share options and restricted shares. Under these circulars, our employees working in China who exercise share options or are granted restricted shares will be subject to PRC individual income tax. Our PRC subsidiaries have obligations to file documents related to employee share options or restricted shares with relevant tax authorities and to withhold individual income taxes for those employees who exercise their share options. If our employees fail to pay or we fail to withhold their income taxes according to relevant laws and regulations, we may face sanctions imposed by the tax authorities or other PRC government authorities. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Relating to Foreign Exchange—Regulation on Stock Incentive Plans.”

PRC regulations relating to offshore investment activities by PRC residents may limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to change their registered capital or distribute profits to us or otherwise expose us or our PRC resident beneficial owners to liability and penalties under PRC laws.

In July 2014, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control on Domestic Residents’ Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment Through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37. SAFE Circular 37 requires PRC residents (including PRC individuals and PRC corporate entities as well as foreign individuals that are deemed as PRC residents for foreign exchange administration purposes) to register with SAFE or its local branches in connection with their direct or indirect offshore investment activities. SAFE Circular 37 further requires amendment to the SAFE registrations in the event of any changes with respect to the basic information of the offshore special purpose vehicle, such as change of a PRC individual shareholder, name and operation term, or any significant changes with respect to the offshore special purpose vehicle, such as increase or decrease of capital contribution, share transfer or exchange, or mergers or divisions. SAFE Circular 37 is applicable to our shareholders who are PRC residents and may be applicable to any offshore acquisitions that we make in the future. According to the Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving Policies for the Foreign Exchange Administration of Direct Investment released on February 13, 2015 by the SAFE, local banks will examine and handle foreign exchange registration for overseas direct investment, including the initial foreign exchange registration and amendment registration, under SAFE Circular 37 from June 1, 2015. The PRC residents shall, by themselves or entrusting accounting firms or banks, file with the online information system designated by SAFE with respect to its existing rights under offshore direct investment each year prior to the requisite time.

If our shareholders who are PRC residents or entities do not complete their registration with the local SAFE branches or qualified local banks or complete annual filing of its existing rights under offshore direct investment, our PRC subsidiaries may be prohibited from distributing to us its profits and proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation, and we may be restricted in our ability to contribute additional capital to our PRC subsidiaries. Moreover, failure to comply with the SAFE registration described above could result in liability under PRC laws for evasion of applicable foreign exchange restrictions.

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We have used our best efforts to notify PRC residents or entities who directly or indirectly hold shares in our Cayman Islands holding company and who are known to us as being PRC residents or entities to complete the foreign exchange registrations and annual filings of its existing rights under offshore direct investment. However, we may not be informed of the identities of all the PRC residents or entities holding direct or indirect interest in our company, nor can we compel our beneficial owners to comply with SAFE registration requirements. We cannot assure you that all shareholders or beneficial owners of ours who are PRC residents or entities have complied with, and will in the future make, obtain or update any applicable registrations or approvals required by, SAFE regulations.

The failure or inability of such shareholders or beneficial owners to comply with SAFE regulations, or failure by us to amend the foreign exchange registrations of our PRC subsidiaries, could subject us to fines or legal sanctions, restrict our overseas or cross-border investment activities, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to make distributions or pay dividends to us or affect our ownership structure. As a result, our business operations and our ability to distribute profits to you could be materially and adversely affected.

We may rely on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our PRC subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to make payments to us could have a material and adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.

We are a Cayman Islands holding company and we rely principally on dividends and other distributions on equity from our PRC subsidiaries for our cash requirements, including the funds necessary to pay dividends and other cash distributions to our shareholders for services or any debt we may incur. If our PRC subsidiaries incur debt on its own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict its ability to pay dividends or make other distributions to us. Under PRC laws and regulations, our PRC subsidiaries, which is a foreign-owned enterprise, may pay dividends only out of its respective accumulated profits as determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. In addition, a foreign-owned enterprise is required to set aside at least 10% of its accumulated after-tax profits each year, if any, to fund a certain statutory reserve fund, until the aggregate amount of such fund reaches 50% of its registered capital. Such reserve funds cannot be distributed to us as dividends. At its discretion, a foreign-owned enterprise may allocate a portion of its after-tax profits based on PRC accounting standards to an enterprise expansion fund.

Our PRC subsidiaries generate essentially all of their revenue in Renminbi, which is not freely convertible into other currencies. As a result, any restriction on currency exchange may limit the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to use their Renminbi revenues to pay dividends to us.

The PRC government may continue to strengthen its capital controls, and more restrictions and substantial vetting processes may be put forward by SAFE for cross-border transactions falling under both the current account and the capital account. Any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other kinds of payments to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to grow, make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our business, pay dividends, or otherwise fund and conduct our business.

In addition, the Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules provide that a withholding tax rate of up to 10% will be applicable to dividends payable by Chinese companies to non-PRC-resident enterprises unless otherwise exempted or reduced according to treaties or arrangements between the PRC central government and governments of other countries or regions where the non-PRC-resident enterprises are incorporated.

PRC regulation of loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may delay or prevent us from using the proceeds of our initial public offering to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries and our VIEs in China, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

We are an offshore holding company conducting our operations in China through our PRC subsidiaries and VIEs and their subsidiaries. We may make loans to our PRC subsidiaries and VIEs and their subsidiaries subject to the approval from or registration with governmental authorities and limitation on amount, or we may make additional capital contributions to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China. Any loans to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China, which are treated as foreign-invested enterprises, or FIEs, under PRC law, are subject to applicable foreign exchange loan registrations. In addition, an FIE shall use its capital pursuant to the principle of

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authenticity and self-use within its business scope. The capital of an FIE shall not be used for the following purposes: (i) directly or indirectly used for payment beyond the business scope of such FIE or the payment prohibited by relevant laws and regulations; (ii) directly or indirectly used for investment in securities or investments in financial management other than banks principal-secured products unless otherwise provided by relevant laws and regulations; (iii) the granting of loans to non-affiliated enterprises, except where it is expressly permitted in the business license; and (iv) paying the expenses related to the purchase of real estate that is not for self-use (except for the foreign-invested real estate enterprises).

SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming the Administration of Foreign Exchange Settlement of Capital of Foreign-invested Enterprises, or SAFE Circular 19, effective June 2015, in replacement of a former regulation. According to SAFE Circular 19, the flow and use of the RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company is regulated such that RMB capital may not be used for the issuance of RMB entrusted loans, the repayment of inter-enterprise loans or the repayment of bank loans that have been transferred to a third party. Although SAFE Circular 19 allows RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested enterprise to be used for equity investments within China, it also reiterates the principle that RMB converted from the foreign currency-denominated capital of a foreign-invested company may not be directly or indirectly used for purposes beyond its business scope. Thus, it is unclear whether SAFE will permit such capital to be used for equity investments in China in actual practice. SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming and Standardizing the Foreign Exchange Settlement Management Policy of Capital Account, or SAFE Circular 16, effective on June 9, 2016, which reiterates some of the rules set forth in SAFE Circular 19, but changes the prohibition against using RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company to issue RMB entrusted loans to a prohibition against using such capital to issue loans to non-associated enterprises. Violations of SAFE Circular 19 and SAFE Circular 16 could result in administrative penalties. SAFE Circular 19 and SAFE Circular 16 may significantly limit our ability to transfer any foreign currency we hold, including the net proceeds from our initial public offering, to our PRC subsidiaries, which may adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business in China. On October 23, 2019, the SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Further Promoting the Convenience of Cross-border Trade and Investment, or the SAFE Circular 28, which, among other things, allows all foreign-invested companies to use Renminbi converted from foreign currency-denominated capital for equity investments in China, as long as the equity investment is genuine, does not violate applicable laws, and complies with the negative list on foreign investment. However, since the SAFE Circular 28 is newly promulgated, it is unclear how SAFE and competent banks will carry this out in practice.

In light of the various requirements imposed by PRC regulations on loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies, we cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the necessary government registrations or obtain the necessary government approvals on a timely basis, or at all, with respect to future loans by us to our PRC subsidiaries or VIEs or their subsidiaries or with respect to future capital contributions by us to our PRC subsidiaries. If we fail to complete such registrations or obtain such approvals, our ability to use the proceeds from our initial public offering and to capitalize or otherwise fund our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

Governmental control of currency conversion may limit our ability to utilize our revenues effectively and affect the value of your investment.

The PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility of the Renminbi into foreign currencies and, in certain cases, the remittance of currency out of China. We receive all of our revenues in Renminbi. Under our current corporate structure, our Cayman Islands holding company may rely on dividend payments from our PRC subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have. Under existing PRC foreign exchange regulations, payments of current account items, including profit distributions, interest payments and trade and service-related foreign exchange transactions, can be made in foreign currencies without prior approval of the SAFE, by complying with certain procedural requirements. Specifically, under the existing exchange restrictions, without prior approval of SAFE, cash generated from the operations of our PRC subsidiaries in China may be used to pay dividends to our company. However, approval from or registration with appropriate government authorities is required where Renminbi is to be converted into foreign currency and remitted out of China to pay capital expenses such as the repayment of loans denominated in foreign currencies. As a result, we need to obtain SAFE approval to use cash generated from the operations of our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated variable interest entities to pay off their respective debt in a currency other than Renminbi owed to entities outside China, or to make other capital expenditure payments outside China in a currency other than Renminbi.

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In light of the flood of capital outflows of China in 2016 due to the weakening Renminbi, the PRC government has imposed more restrictive foreign exchange policies and stepped-up scrutiny of major outbound capital movement including overseas direct investment. More restrictions and substantial vetting processes are put in place by SAFE to regulate cross-border transactions falling under the capital account. If any of our shareholders regulated by such policies fails to satisfy the applicable overseas direct investment filing or approval requirement timely or at all, it may be subject to penalties from the relevant PRC authorities. The PRC government may at its discretion further restrict access in the future to foreign currencies for current account transactions. If the foreign exchange control system prevents us from obtaining sufficient foreign currencies to satisfy our foreign currency demands, we may not be able to pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of the ADSs.

Our ADSs may be delisted under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act if the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, is unable to inspect auditors who are located in China. The delisting of our ADSs, or the threat of their being delisted, may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment. Additionally, the inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections deprives our investors with the benefits of such inspections.

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the HFCA Act, was enacted on December 18, 2020. The HFCA Act states if the SEC determines that we have filed audit reports issued by a registered public accounting firm that has not been subject to inspection by the PCAOB for three consecutive years beginning in 2021, the SEC shall prohibit our shares or ADSs from being traded on a national securities exchange or in the over the counter trading market in the U.S.

Our auditor, the independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit report included elsewhere in this annual report, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the PCAOB, is subject to laws in the United States pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance with the applicable professional standards. Since our auditor is located in China, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB has been unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditor is currently not inspected by the PCAOB.

On March 24, 2021, the SEC adopted interim final rules relating to the implementation of certain disclosure and documentation requirement of the HFCA Act. We will be required to comply with these rules if the SEC identifies us as having a “non-inspection” year under a process to be subsequently established by the SEC. The SEC is assessing how to implement other requirements of the HFCA Act, including the listing and trading prohibition requirements described above.

The SEC may propose additional rules or guidance that could impact us if our auditor is not subject to PCAOB inspection. For example, on August 6, 2020, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, or the PWG, issued the Report on Protecting United States Investors from Significant Risks from Chinese Companies to the then President of the United States. This report recommended the SEC implement five recommendations to address companies from jurisdictions that do not provide the PCAOB with sufficient access to fulfil its statutory mandate. Some of the concepts of these recommendations were implemented with the enactment of the HFCA Act. However, some of the recommendations were more stringent than the HFCA Act. For example, if a company was not subject to PCAOB inspection, the report recommended that the transition period before a company would be delisted would end on January 1, 2022.

The SEC has announced that the SEC staff is preparing a consolidated proposal for the rules regarding the implementation of the HFCA Act to address the recommendations in the PWG report. It is unclear when the SEC will complete its rulemaking and when such rules will become effective and what, if any, of the PWG recommendations will be adopted. The implications of this possible regulation in addition to the requirements of the HFCA Act are uncertain. Such uncertainty could cause the market price of our ADSs to be materially and adversely affected, and our securities could be delisted or prohibited from being traded "over-the-counter" earlier than would be required by the HFCA Act. If our securities are unable to be listed on another securities exchange by then, such a delisting would substantially impair your ability to sell or purchase our ADSs when you wish to do so, and the risk and uncertainty associated with a potential delisting would have a negative impact on the price of our ADSs.

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The PCAOBs inability to conduct inspections in China prevents it from fully evaluating the audits and quality control procedures of our independent registered public accounting firm. As a result, we and investors in our ordinary shares are deprived of the benefits of such PCAOB inspections. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our independent registered public accounting firms audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to the PCAOB inspections, which could cause investors and potential investors in our stock to lose confidence in audit procedures and reported financial information and the quality of our financial statements.

In May 2013, the PCAOB announced that it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with the CSRC and the PRC Ministry of Finance, which establishes a cooperative framework between the parties for the production and exchange of audit documents relevant to investigations undertaken by the PCAOB in the PRC or by the CSRC or the PRC Ministry of Finance in the United States. The PCAOB continues to be in discussions with the CSRC and the PRC Ministry of Finance to permit joint inspections in the PRC of audit firms that are registered with the PCAOB and audit Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges.

It may be difficult for overseas regulators to conduct investigations or collect evidence within China.

Shareholder claims or regulatory investigations that are common in jurisdictions outside China are difficult to pursue as a matter of law or practicality in China. For example, in China, there are significant legal and other obstacles to providing information needed for regulatory investigations or litigation initiated outside China. Although the authorities in China may establish a regulatory cooperation mechanism with the securities regulatory authorities of another country or region to implement cross-border supervision and administration, such cooperation with the securities regulatory authorities in the United States or other jurisdictions may not be efficient in the absence of a mutual and practical cooperation mechanism. Furthermore, according to Article 177 of the PRC Securities Law, or Article 177, which became effective in March 2020, no overseas securities regulator is allowed to directly conduct investigation or evidence collection activities within the territory of the PRC, and without the consent by the Chinese securities regulatory authorities and the other competent governmental agencies, no entity or individual may provide documents or materials related to securities business to any foreign party. While detailed interpretation of or implementation rules under Article 177 have yet to be promulgated, the inability of an overseas securities regulator to directly conduct investigation or evidence collection activities within China and the potential obstacles for information provision may further increase difficulties you face in protecting your interests. See also “—Risks relating to the ADS—You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law” for risks associated with investing in us as a Cayman Islands company.

Proceedings instituted by the SEC against PRC-based “big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

Starting in 2011 the PRC-based “big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, were affected by a conflict between U.S. and Chinese law. Specifically, for certain U.S.-listed companies operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from the Chinese firms access to their audit work papers and related documents. The firms were, however, advised and directed that under Chinese law, they could not respond directly to the U.S. regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through the CSRC.

In late 2012, this impasse led the SEC to commence administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 against the Chinese accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm. A first instance trial of the proceedings in July 2013 in the SEC’s internal administrative court resulted in an adverse judgment against the firms. The administrative law judge proposed penalties on the firms including a temporary suspension of their right to practice before the SEC, although that proposed penalty did not take effect pending review by the Commissioners of the SEC. On February 6, 2015, before a review by the Commissioners had taken place, the firms reached a settlement with the SEC. Under the settlement, the SEC accepts that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents will normally be made to the CSRC. The firms will receive matching Section 106 requests, and are required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance require them to facilitate production via the CSRC. If

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they fail to meet specified criteria, the SEC retains authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on the firms depending on the nature of the failure. Remedies for any future noncompliance could include, as appropriate, an automatic six-month bar on a single firms performance of certain audit work, commencement of a new proceeding against a firm, or, in extreme cases, the resumption of the current proceeding against all four firms. If additional remedial measures are imposed on the PRC-based big four accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, in administrative proceedings brought by the SEC alleging the firms failure to meet specific criteria set by the SEC with respect to requests for the production of documents, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

In the event that the SEC restarts the administrative proceedings, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about any such future proceedings against these audit firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, U.S.-listed companies and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.

If our independent registered public accounting firm was denied, even temporarily, the ability to practice before the SEC and we were unable to timely find another registered public accounting firm to audit and issue an opinion on our financial statements, our financial statements could be determined to be not in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to the delisting of the ADSs or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of the ADSs in the United States.

Recent litigation and negative publicity surrounding China-based companies listed in the U.S. may result in increased regulatory scrutiny of us and negatively impact the trading price of our ADSs.

We believe that litigation and negative publicity surrounding companies with operations in China that are listed in the U.S. have negatively impacted stock prices for such companies. Various equity-based research organizations have published reports on China-based companies after examining, among other things, their corporate governance practices, related party transactions, sales practices and financial statements that have led to special investigations and stock suspensions on national exchanges. Any similar scrutiny of us, regardless of its lack of merit, could result in a diversion of management resources and energy, potential costs to defend ourselves against rumors, decreases and volatility in the ADS trading price, and increased directors and officers insurance premiums, and could have a material adverse effect upon our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Changes in international trade policies and rising political tensions, particularly between the U.S. and China, may adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Although cross-border business may not be an area of our focus, if we plan to expand our business internationally in the future, any unfavorable government policies on international trade, such as capital controls or tariffs, may affect the demand for our products and services, impact our competitive position, or prevent us from being able to conduct business in certain countries. If any new tariffs, legislation, or regulations are implemented, or if existing trade agreements are renegotiated, such changes could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Recently, there have been heightened tensions in international economic relations, such as the one between the United States and China. The U.S. government has recently imposed, and has recently proposed to impose additional, new, or higher tariffs on certain products imported from China to penalize China for what it characterizes as unfair trade practices. China has responded by imposing, and proposing to impose additional, new, or higher tariffs on certain products imported from the United States. Following mutual retaliatory actions for months, on January 15, 2020, the United States and China entered into the Economic and Trade Agreement Between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China as a phase one trade deal, effective on February 14, 2020. It remains unclear what additional actions, if any, will be taken by the U.S. or other governments with respect to international trade, tax policy related to international commerce, or other trade matters.

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The situation is further complicated by the political tensions between the United States and China that escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of the NPCs decision on Hong Kong national security legislation, sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of Treasury on certain officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the central government of the PRC and the executive orders issued by U.S. President in August 2020 that prohibit certain transactions with certain China-based companies and their respective subsidiaries. Against this backdrop, China has implemented, and may further implement, measures in response to the changing trade policies, treaties, tariffs and sanctions and restrictions against Chinese companies initiated by the U.S. government. For example, the MOFCOM published new rules in January 2021 to counter restrictions imposed by foreign countries on Chinese citizens and companies. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations on Anti Long-Arm Jurisdiction.” Rising trade and political tensions could reduce levels of trade, investments, technological exchanges and other economic activities between China and other countries, which would have an adverse effect on global economic conditions, the stability of global financial markets, and international trade policies.

Although the direct impact of the current international trade and political tension, and any escalation of such tension, on the online education industry in China is uncertain, the negative impact on general, economic, political and social conditions may adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks relating to the ADS

The trading price of the ADSs is likely to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to investors.

The trading price of the ADSs has been volatile since our ADSs started to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, including the performance and fluctuation of the market prices of other companies with business operations located mainly in China that have listed their securities in the United States. In addition to market and industry factors, the price and trading volume for the ADSs may be highly volatile for factors specific to our own operations, including the following:

 

actual or anticipated variations in our revenues, earnings, cash flow and changes or revisions of our expected results;

 

fluctuations in operating metrics;

 

announcements of new investments, acquisitions, strategic partnerships or joint ventures by us or our competitors;

 

announcements of new products, services and courses and expansions by us or our competitors;

 

changes in financial estimates by securities analysts;

 

announcements of studies and reports relating to the quality of our product, service and course offerings or those of our competitors;

 

changes in the performance or market valuations of other online education companies;

 

conditions in the online education market;

 

detrimental negative publicity about us, our competitors or our industry;

 

additions or departures of key personnel;

 

release of lockup or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding equity securities or sales of additional equity securities;

 

regulatory developments affecting us or our industry;

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general economic or political conditions affecting China or elsewhere in the world;

 

fluctuations of exchange rates between the RMB and the U.S. dollar; and

 

potential litigation or regulatory investigations.

Any of these factors may result in large and sudden changes in the volume and price at which the ADSs will trade. Furthermore, the stock market in general experiences price and volume fluctuations that are often unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of companies like us. These broad market and industry fluctuations may adversely affect the market price of our ADSs. Volatility or a lack of positive performance in the ADS price may also adversely affect our ability to retain key employees, most of whom have been granted equity incentives.

In the past, shareholders of public companies have often brought securities class action suits against companies following periods of instability in the market price of their securities. If we were involved in a class action suit, it could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit, which could harm our results of operations. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

If securities or industry analysts cease to publish research or reports about our business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for the ADSs will be influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about our business. If one or more analysts who cover us downgrade the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause the market price or trading volume for the ADSs to decline.

Our dual-class voting structure will limits your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

We have adopted a dual-class voting structure such that our ordinary shares consist of Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares (with certain shares remaining undesignated, with power for our directors to designate and issue such classes of shares as they think fit). Holders of Class A ordinary shares are entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B ordinary shares are entitled to thirty votes per share. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof, while Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Holders of Class B ordinary shares have the ability to control matters requiring shareholders’ approval, including any amendment of our memorandum and articles of association. Any future issuances of Class B ordinary shares may be dilutive to the voting power of holders of Class A ordinary shares. Any conversions of Class B ordinary shares into Class A ordinary shares may dilute the percentage ownership of the existing holders of Class A ordinary shares within their class of ordinary shares. Such conversions may increase the aggregate voting power of the existing holders of Class A ordinary shares. In the event that we have multiple holders of Class B ordinary shares in the future and certain of them convert their Class B ordinary shares into Class A ordinary shares, the remaining holders who retain their Class B ordinary shares may experience increases in their relative voting power.

As of February 28, 2021, Mr. Andy Chang Liu, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, beneficially owned all of our issued Class B ordinary shares. These Class B ordinary shares constitute 12.1% of our total issued and outstanding share capital and 80.5% of the aggregate voting power of our total issued and outstanding share capital due to the disparate voting powers associated with our dual-class share structure. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.” As a result of the dual-class share structure and the concentration of ownership, holders of Class B ordinary shares will have considerable influence over matters such as decisions regarding mergers and consolidations, election of directors and other significant corporate actions. Such holders may take actions that are not in the best interest of us or our other shareholders. This

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concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could have the effect of depriving our other shareholders of the opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and may reduce the price of our ADSs. This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions that holders of Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

The dual-class structure of our ordinary shares may adversely affect the trading market for our ADSs.

Certain shareholder advisory firms have announced changes to their eligibility criteria for inclusion of shares of public companies on certain indices, including the S&P 500, to exclude companies with multiple classes of shares and companies whose public shareholders hold no more than 5% of total voting power from being added to such indices. In addition, several shareholder advisory firms have announced their opposition to the use of multiple class structures. As a result, the dual class structure of our ordinary shares may prevent the inclusion of our ADSs representing Class A ordinary shares in such indices and may cause shareholder advisory firms to publish negative commentary about our corporate governance practices or otherwise seek to cause us to change our capital structure. Any such exclusion from indices could result in a less active trading market for our ADSs. Any actions or publications by shareholder advisory firms critical of our corporate governance practices or capital structure could also adversely affect the value of our ADSs.

We currently do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future and you must rely on price appreciation of our ADSs for return on your investment.

We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in our ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends, subject to certain requirements of Cayman Islands law. In addition, our shareholders may by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our directors. Under Cayman Islands law, a Cayman Islands company may pay a dividend out of either profit or share premium account, provided that in no circumstances may a dividend be paid if this would result in the company being unable to pay its debts as they fall due in the ordinary course of business. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in our ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of our ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in our ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in our ADSs.

The sale or availability for sale of substantial amounts of our ADSs could adversely affect their market price.

Sales of substantial amounts of our ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could adversely affect the market price of our ADSs and could materially impair our ability to raise capital through equity offerings in the future. Shares held by our existing shareholders may also be sold in the public market in the future subject to the restrictions in Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act and the applicable lock-up agreements. We cannot predict what effect, if any, market sales of securities held by our significant shareholders or any other shareholder or the availability of these securities for future sale will have on the market price of our ADSs.

Our seventh memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our ordinary shares and the ADSs.

Our seventh memorandum and articles of association contain provisions to limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in change-of-control transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. Our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred

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shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our ordinary shares, including Class A ordinary shares represented by ADSs. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of the ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our ordinary shares and the ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

Our seventh memorandum and articles of association and the deposit agreement provide that the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (or, if the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a particular dispute, the state courts in New York County, New York) is the exclusive judicial forum within the U.S. for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising out of or relating in any way to the federal securities laws of the United States, and any suit, action or proceeding arising out of or relating in any way to the ADSs or the deposit agreement, which could limit the ability of holders of our ordinary shares, the ADSs or other securities to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us, our directors and officers, the depositary, and potentially others.

Our seventh memorandum and articles of association provide that the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (or, if the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a particular dispute, the state courts in New York County, New York) is the exclusive forum within the United States for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising out of or relating in any way to the federal securities laws of the United States, regardless of whether such legal suit, action, or proceeding also involves parties other than our company. The deposit agreement provides that the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (or, if the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a particular dispute, the state courts in New York County, New York) shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any suit, action or proceeding against or involving us or the depositary, arising out of or relating in any way to the deposit agreement or the transactions contemplated thereby or by virtue of owning the ADSs. The enforceability of similar federal court choice of forum provisions in other companies’ organizational documents has been challenged in legal proceedings in the United States, and it is possible that a court could find this type of provision to be inapplicable or unenforceable. If a court were to find the federal choice of forum provision contained in our Seventh memorandum and articles of association or the deposit agreement to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions. If upheld, the forum selection clause in our Seventh memorandum and articles of association, as well as the forum selection provision in the deposit agreement, may limit a security-holder’s ability to bring a claim against us, our directors and officers, the depositary, and potentially others in his or her preferred judicial forum, and this limitation may discourage such lawsuits. Holders of our shares or the ADSs will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with the federal securities laws and the regulations promulgated thereunder pursuant to the exclusive forum provision in the Seventh memorandum and articles of association and deposit agreement. In addition, the forum selection provision of the deposit agreement does not effect the right of an ADS holder or the depositary to require any claim against us, including a federal securities law claim, to be submitted to arbitration or to commence an action in any court in aid of that arbitration provision or to enter judgment upon or enforce any arbitration award.

The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to direct the voting of the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs.

Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights as our registered shareholders. As a holder of ADSs, you will not have any direct right to attend general meetings of our shareholders or to cast any votes at such meetings. You will only be able to exercise the voting rights attached to the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs indirectly by giving voting instructions to the depositary in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Where any matter is to be put to a vote at a general meeting where we asked the depositary to solicit your instruction, then upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will try, as far as is practicable, to vote the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs in accordance with your instructions. You will not be able to directly exercise your right to vote with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares unless you cancel and withdraw the Class A ordinary shares and become the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date for the general meeting.

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When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice of the meeting to withdraw the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs and become the registered holder of such shares to allow you to attend the general meeting and to vote directly with respect to any specific matter or resolution to be considered and voted upon at the general meeting. In addition, under our Seventh memorandum and articles of association, for the purposes of determining those shareholders who are entitled to attend and vote at any general meeting, our directors may close our register of members and/or fix in advance a record date for such meeting, and such closure of our register of members or the setting of such a record date may prevent you from withdrawing the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs and from becoming the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date, so that you would not be able to attend the general meeting or to vote directly. Where any matter is to be put to a vote at a general meeting, upon our instruction the depositary will notify you of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs.

In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to direct how the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs are voted and you may have no legal remedy if the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs are not voted as you requested. In addition, in your capacity as an ADS holder, you will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.

Further, under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, if you do not vote, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote the Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs at shareholders’ meetings if:

 

we have instructed the depositary that we wish a discretionary proxy to be given;

 

we have confirmed to the depositary that there is no substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting; and

 

we have confirmed to the depositary that a matter to be voted on at the meeting would not have a material adverse impact on shareholders.

The effect of this discretionary proxy is that you cannot prevent our Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs from being voted under the circumstances described above. This may adversely affect your interests and make it more difficult for shareholders to influence the management of our company. Holders of our Class A ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.

You may not receive cash dividends or other distributions if the depositary decides it is impractical to make them available to you.

The depositary will pay cash distributions or other distributions on the ADSs only to the extent that we decide to make distributions on our Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities, and we do not have any present plan to pay any cash dividends on our Class A ordinary shares in the foreseeable future. To the extent that there is a distribution, the depositary has agreed to pay you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary may, at its discretion, decide that it is inequitable or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, the depositary may determine that it is not practicable to distribute certain property through the mail, or that the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may decide not to distribute such property to you.

You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADS holders on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of the ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

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You may experience dilution of your holdings due to inability to participate in rights offerings.

We may, from time to time, distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire securities. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not distribute rights to holders of ADSs unless the distribution and sale of rights and the securities to which these rights relate are either exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs, or are registered under the provisions of the Securities Act. The depositary may, but is not required to, attempt to sell these undistributed rights to third parties, and may allow the rights to lapse. We may be unable to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act, and we are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to these rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to have a registration statement declared effective. Accordingly, holders of ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution of their holdings as a result.

You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.

We are an exempted company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our seventh memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Act (As Revised) of the Cayman Islands and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against our directors, actions by our minority shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedents in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have the standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.

Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records (apart from the memorandum and articles of association and the register of mortgages and charges) or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under our Seventh amended and restated articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder motion or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.

As a result of all of the above, our public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of our board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States. For a discussion of significant differences between the provisions of the Companies Act of the Cayman Islands and the laws applicable to companies incorporated in the United States and their shareholders, see “Item 10. Additional Information—B. Memorandum and Articles of Association—Differences in Corporate Law.”

Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.

We are a Cayman Islands exempted company and most of our assets are located in China. All of our current operations are conducted in China. In addition, most of our current directors and senior executive officers are nationals and residents of jurisdictions other than the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of China may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers.

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ADS holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable outcomes to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our Class A ordinary shares provides that, subject to the depositary’s right to require a claim to be submitted to arbitration, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (or, if the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a particular dispute, in the state courts in New York County, New York) shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine claims arising out of or relating in any way to the deposit agreement (including claims arising under the Exchange Act or the Securities Act) and in that regard, to the fullest extent permitted by law, ADS holders waive the right to a jury trial of any claim they may have against us or the depositary arising out of or relating to our shares, the ADSs or the deposit agreement, including any claim under the U.S. federal securities laws.

If we or the depositary opposed a jury trial demand based on the waiver, the court would determine whether the waiver was enforceable based on the facts and circumstances of that case in accordance with the applicable state and federal law. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver in connection with claims arising under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court. However, we believe that a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable, including under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement. In determining whether to enforce a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision, courts will generally consider whether a party knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waives the right to a jury trial. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. It is advisable that you consult legal counsel regarding the jury waiver provision before investing in the ADSs.

If you or any other holders or beneficial owners of ADSs bring a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us or the depositary, lead to increased costs to bring a claim, limited access to information and other imbalances of resources between such holder and us, or limit such holder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that such holder finds favorable. If a lawsuit is brought against us or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different outcomes than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

Nevertheless, if this jury trial waiver provision is not enforced, to the extend a court action proceeds, it would proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs shall relieve us or the depositary from our respective obligations to comply with the Securities Act and the Exchange Act nor serve as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs of compliance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

An ADS holder’s right to pursue claims against the depositary is limited by the terms of the deposit agreement.

Under the deposit agreement, any legal suit, action or proceeding against or involving us or the depositary, arising out of or relating in any way to the deposit agreement or the transactions contemplated thereby or by virtue of owning the ADSs may only be instituted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (or, if the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a particular dispute, in the state courts in New York County, New York), and a holder of our ADSs, will have irrevocably waived any objection which such holder may have to the laying of venue of any such proceeding, and irrevocably submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts in any such action or proceeding. However, the enforceability of similar federal court choice of forum provisions in other companies’ organizational documents has been challenged in legal proceedings in the United States, and it is possible that a court could find this type of provision to be inapplicable or unenforceable. Accepting or consenting to this forum selection provision does not represent you are waiving compliance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. Furthermore, investors cannot waive compliance with the U.S. federal securities laws and rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

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The deposit agreement provides that the depositary or an ADS holder may require any claim asserted by it against us arising out of or relating to our Class A ordinary shares, the ADSs or the deposit agreement be referred to and finally settled by an arbitration conducted under the terms described in the deposit agreement, although the arbitration provisions do not preclude you from pursuing any claim, including claims under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (or such state courts if the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York lacks subject matter jurisdiction). The exclusive forum selection provisions in the deposit agreement also do not affect the right of any party to the deposit agreement to elect to submit a claim against us to arbitration, or our duty to submit that claim to arbitration, as provided in the deposit agreement, or the right of any party to an arbitration under the deposit agreement, to commence an action to compel that arbitration, or to enter judgment upon or to enforce an award by the arbitrators, in any court having jurisdiction over an action of that kind. The arbitration provisions apply to actions arising under the Securities Act and the Exchange Act. Accepting or consenting to the arbitration provisions does not constitute a waiver by investors of our or the depositarys compliance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

We are an emerging growth company within the meaning of the Securities Act and may take advantage of certain reduced reporting requirements.

As a company with less than US$1.07 billion in revenues for our last fiscal year, we qualify as an “emerging growth company” pursuant to the JOBS Act. Therefore, we may take advantage of specified reduced reporting and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. These provisions include exemption from the auditor attestation requirement under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Section 404, in the assessment of the emerging growth company’s internal control over financial reporting and permission to delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. As a result, if we elect not to comply with such reporting and other requirements, in particular the auditor attestation requirements, our investors may not have access to certain information they may deem important.

The JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company does not need to comply with any new or revised financial accounting standards until such date that a private company is otherwise required to comply with such new or revised accounting standards. However, we have elected to “opt out” of this provision and, as a result, we need to comply with new or revised accounting standards as required when they are adopted for public companies. This decision to opt out of the extended transition period under the JOBS Act is irrevocable.

As a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the Nasdaq listing standards.

As a Cayman Islands exempted company listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, we are subject to the Nasdaq listing standards, which requires listed companies to have, among other things, a majority of their board members to be independent and independent director oversight of executive compensation and nomination of directors. However, Nasdaq rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the Nasdaq listing standards.

We are permitted to elect to rely on home country practice to be exempted from the corporate governance requirements. If we choose to follow home country practice in the future, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they would otherwise enjoy if we complied fully with the Nasdaq listing standards.

We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to U.S. domestic public companies.

Because we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:

 

the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K;

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the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;

 

the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time;

 

the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD; and

 

certain audit committee independence requirements in Rule 10A-3 of the Exchange Act.

We are required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we publish our results on a quarterly basis as press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Nasdaq. Press releases relating to financial results and material events are also furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC is less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information that would be made available to you were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.

We are a “controlled company” within the meaning of the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules and, as a result, may rely on exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements that provide protection to shareholders of other companies.

We are a “controlled company” as defined under the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules because Mr. Andy Chang Liu, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, beneficially owns more than 50% of our total voting power. For so long as we remain a controlled company under that definition, we are permitted to elect to rely on, and may rely on, certain exemptions from corporate governance rules, including an exemption from the rule that a majority of our board of directors must be independent directors. As a result, you will not have the same protection afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to these corporate governance requirements.

There can be no assurance that we will not be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes for any taxable year, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. Holders of our ADSs or ordinary shares.

A non-U.S. corporation, such as our company, will be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for any taxable year if either (1) at least 75% of its gross income for such year consists of certain types of “passive” income (the “income test”); or (2) at least 50% of the value of its assets (generally determined on the basis of a quarterly average) during such year is attributable to assets that produce passive income or are held for the production of passive income (the “asset test”). Although the law in this regard is not entirely clear, we treat our consolidated VIEs and their subsidiaries as being owned by us for U.S. federal income tax purposes because we control their management decisions and are entitled to substantially all of the economic benefits associated with them. As a result, we consolidate their results of operations in our consolidated U.S. GAAP financial statements. If it were determined, however, that we are not the owner of our consolidated VIEs and their subsidiaries for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we may be treated as a PFIC for the current taxable year and any subsequent taxable year. Assuming that we are the owner of our consolidated VIEs and their subsidiaries for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we do not believe we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2020 and we do not expect to be or become a PFIC for the current taxable year or the foreseeable future.

However, while we do not expect to be or become a PFIC, no assurance can be given in this regard because the determination of whether we are or will become a PFIC for any taxable year is a fact-intensive inquiry made annually that depends, in part, upon the composition of our income and assets. Fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs may cause us to be or become a PFIC for the current or subsequent taxable years because the value of our assets for the purpose of the asset test, including the value of our goodwill and other unbooked intangibles, may be determined by reference to the market price of our ADSs from time to time (which may be volatile). The composition of our income and assets may also be affected by how, and how quickly, we use our liquid assets.

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If we were to be or become a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder (as defined in Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations) holds our ADSs or ordinary shares, certain adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences could apply to such U.S. Holder. See Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules.

We incur increased costs as a result of being a public company, particularly after we cease to qualify as an “emerging growth company.”

We have become a public company and expect to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and Nasdaq, impose various requirements on the corporate governance practices of public companies. We expect these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some corporate activities more time-consuming and costly.

As a public company, we need to increase the number of independent directors and adopt policies regarding internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. Operating as a public company may make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. In addition, we may incur additional costs associated with our public company reporting requirements. It may also be more difficult for us to find qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers. We are currently evaluating and monitoring developments with respect to these rules and regulations, and we cannot predict or estimate with any degree of certainty the amount of additional costs we may incur or the timing of such costs.

In addition, after we are no longer an “emerging growth company,” we expect to incur significant expenses and devote substantial management effort toward ensuring compliance with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the other rules and regulations of the SEC.

ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

A.

History and Development of the Company

We set up Shanghai Hexu Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Shanghai VIE, in December 2012.

Our holding company, 17 Education & Technology Group Inc., was incorporated in October 2012. In December 2012, 17 Education & Technology Group Inc. established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Hong Kong, Sunny Education (HK) Limited. In April 2013, Sunny Education (HK) Limited established a wholly-owned subsidiary in China, Shanghai Yiqi Zuoye Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Shanghai WFOE. In May 2013, we gained control over Shanghai VIE through Shanghai WFOE by entering into a series of contractual arrangements with Shanghai VIE and its shareholders.

To expand our business operations, we established Beijing Yiqi Education Information Consultation Co., Ltd., or Beijing VIE, in February 2019, and further entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Beijing VIE and its shareholders in May 2020, through which our wholly owned subsidiary Beijing Yiqi Education & Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing WFOE, established in July 2019, effectively controls Beijing VIE.

To further expand our business operations, we established Beijing Xiaofeng Online Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Xiaofeng, in March 2019, and we gained control over Beijing Xiaofeng through Shanghai WFOE by entering into a series of contractual arrangements with Beijing Xiaofeng and its shareholders in August 2020, and the contractual arrangements are deemed effective from the incorporation of Beijing Xiaofeng. As of the date of this annual report, there is no material business operations for Beijing VIE, Beijing WFOE and Beijing Xiaofeng. We are currently in the process of winding down Beijing Xiaofeng because it does not engage in material business activities.

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We also established certain wholly-owned subsidiaries of Shanghai VIE and Beijing VIE to conduct our business, including Beijing Yiqi Science Technology Co., Ltd. in January 2017, Shang Li Qi Di Education Technology (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. in November 2019, Qi Mai Information Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. in December 2019 and Taizhou Jiaojiang Yiqi Education Training School Co., Ltd. in June 2020. In addition, to operate our online after-school tutoring business, Beijing Yiqi Science Technology Co., Ltd obtained 100% sponsorship interest in Beijing Haidian District Yiqi Education Training School in July 2017 and Beijing VIE obtained 100% equity interest in Beijing Yiqi Information Technology Co., Ltd. in June 2020.

Our principal executive offices are located at 16/F, Block B, Wangjing Greenland Center, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100102, People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is +86 (10) 5945-1082. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at the offices of Maples Corporate Services Limited, P.O. Box 309, Ugland House, Grand Cayman, KY1-1104, Cayman Islands.

SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC on www.sec.gov. You can also find information on our website https://ir.17zuoye.com/investor-relations. The information contained on our website is not a part of this annual report.

B.

Business Overview

Overview

We are a leading education technology company in China with an “in-school + after-school” integrated model. Our smart in-school classroom solution delivers data-driven teaching, learning and assessment products to teachers, students and parents across over 70,000 K-12 schools. Leveraging our in-school leadership, we offer online K-12 large class after-school tutoring services that complement students’ in-school learning. Powered by our integrated model and technology, our online K-12 large-class after-school tutoring courses stand out in terms of our unique approach to personalization realized through our data-driven understanding of individual students’ in-school performance, as well as our district-level localized insights. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, net revenues from our online K-12 tutoring services represented 30.2%, 88.5% and 94.1% of our total net revenues, respectively.

In-School

At our founding, we believed that delivering truly effective education in China requires a focus on the in-school learning that is core to the K-12 school system, and as such, we strategically began building our smart in-school classroom solution, including homework and academic assessment products, for K-12 schools in 2012 to empower in-school learning. Over the past eight years, we have significantly expanded the product portfolio within our smart in-school classroom solution to encompass class preparation and delivery, homework-related activities and academic assessment, delivering significant efficiency improvements to teachers, students and parents in all of their key daily educational activities and enabling them to engage in ways that would be impossible using traditional offline methods. The core functions of our in-school products are free of charge for teachers, students and parents to use.

Our massive and proprietary content library features localized homework assignments, academic assessments and teaching and learning materials that closely track the local curriculum and educational objectives at schools across the country. In particular, our content library currently has a deep reserve of high-quality written and multimedia educational resources, including over 18 million homework questions, assessment sets, supplementary teaching and learning guides, self-directed learning videos, in-class teaching content kits and digital picture books that have been accurately tagged to meet educational needs under all major K-12 academic subjects and textbook versions. The widespread adoption of our smart in-school classroom solution and the high quality of our educational content offerings, as well as their daily integration into the in-school learning environment, have solidified our brand recognition and enabled us to win enduring trust from all stakeholders – teachers, students and parents. The high-frequency interactions we have across our products and our unique access to a large amount of mission-critical learning data also give us deep insight across all of our user groups. As of December 31, 2020, we had serviced over 1.0 million verified teacher users, 56.9 million verified student users and 49.4 million registered parent users on a cumulative basis. Our smart in-school classroom solution was used at over 70,000 K-12 schools in over 300 cities across all provincial-level regions in mainland China in 2020.

For teachers. We believe school teachers are the pillars of the education system. We provide teachers with comprehensive educational content that we have fine-tuned over the past eight years, as well as a range of powerful

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tools that allow them to more efficiently execute their daily activities, freeing them to concentrate on improving the quality of their teaching. With our products, teachers can easily track student performance during the semester and throughout different grades, empowering them to offer a significantly higher level of personalization and elicit better results from students.

For students. Our ultimate goal is to improve learning efficiency and outcomes for students across China. Our products enable students to engage with a massive, proprietary library of localized learning content, access and complete their assignments online, and receive personalized feedback based on issues identified in their homework and assessments. All of these activities and related in-school data are captured in a digital academic profile.

For parents. We offer parents an effective, user-friendly way to monitor the academic performance and progress of their children. We also provide parents with up-to-date analysis on the areas where their children face challenges, as well as individualized study plans designed to tackle these areas of academic weakness, enabling them to take a more active role in the learning process.

After-School

To help students overcome their individual academic weaknesses, we started to offer online K-12 after-school tutoring courses in a large-class dual-teacher format in 2017, providing them an after-school learning experience that is closely integrated with their in-school education. Our online after-school tutoring courses cover the major subject matters of China’s K-12 education.

We leverage our profound insights into student academic performance in school to design our online K-12 after-school tutoring courses. In addition, our significant presence in K-12 schools across China allows us to align our after-school tutoring content and learning modules with local curriculum and assessment objectives. Moreover, the trusted relationships we have developed with teachers, students and parents provide us with a large and familiar pool of prospective tutoring customers, as well as a community of supporters that provide organic word-of-mouth referrals.

Our Smart In-School Classroom Solution

Over the past eight years, we have significantly expanded the product portfolio of smart in-school classroom solution to encompass class preparation and delivery, homework-related activities and academic assessment, delivering significant efficiency to teachers, students and parents in all of their key daily educational activities and enable them to perform tasks that are otherwise impracticable using traditional offline methods. Our smart in-school classroom solution covers most of the major subjects of K-12 education in China, including nine subjects required in the Gaokao. The core functions of our in-school products are free of charge for teachers, students and parents to use.

School Coverage and User Base

We have established a strong national footprint within China’s K-12 education system through almost a decade of expansion and growth. In 2020, our smart in-school classroom solution was used at over 70,000 K-12 schools in over 300 cities across all provincial-level regions in China.

Through our high-quality and effective in-school products, we have amassed a large and highly engaged user community. As of December 31, 2020, we had serviced over 1.0 million verified teacher users, 56.9 million verified student users and 49.4 million registered parent users on a cumulative basis. In 2020, each active verified teacher user on average issued approximately eight homework assignments per week, and each active user of our in-school student applications on average maintained approximately seven sessions of user per week. In addition, the average MAUs of our in-school applications for students reached 15.6 million, 14.1 million and 19.7 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Use Cases

Our smart in-school classroom solution covers all of the key activities related to K-12 in-school education in China, including class preparation and delivery, homework-related activities and academic assessment.

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Class Preparation and Delivery

Given recent developments in technological capabilities and consumer behavior, technology has increasingly become a part of K-12 education. Our 17 Smart Class software is a comprehensive content creation tool that seamlessly integrates with the software school teachers use to teach. When preparing presentations and other course materials, teachers can instantly access hundreds of thousands of pieces of highly modularized, accurately labeled, readily usable and easily customizable educational content from our database. Our proprietary content library is frequently updated and is organized across a number of easy-to-navigate classifications, including subject, learning objective, grade level, textbook version, and content type, among others. Teachers are also able to incorporate homework and assessment data from our in-school applications when preparing teaching materials for class, and in this way can make sure to take into account common mistakes on past homework questions and examinations. By using our high-quality content and our in-school data to create customized class materials, teachers are able to easily deliver an engaging, interactive learning experience for their students with more effective results.

Homework-Related Activities

To provide an integrated education experience, our system matches the corresponding teacher, student and parent accounts to streamline homework assignments, synchronize updates on learning progress and outcomes and facilitate communications among them.

Homework Assignment

Our applications give teachers the ability to easily access our massive, proprietary content library when assigning homework to their students. Our content is highly localized, which given the significant regional differences in China’s K-12 education, is necessary to effectively improve students’ educational outcomes. Leveraging our state-of-the-art algorithm technologies, our applications automatically generate and recommend to teachers a wide variety of homework sets sourced from our proprietary content library. These homework sets are tailored according to a number of corresponding local and personal factors, including textbook versions, learning objectives, specific knowledge points and weaknesses and areas for improvement. They are further categorized for specific use cases, such as day-to-day, after-class homework, holiday homework and exam preparation. For more information on the related algorithm technologies, see “—Technology—Big Data—Algorithms.” We also provide teachers with the flexibility to create their own customized homework sets using questions sourced from our content library. Teachers may also use our applications to distribute paper-based homework assignments to their students digitally. In addition to homework questions, our content library also includes a large collection of interactive educational materials, including digital picture books, conversation exercises and short videos we have developed in-house for teachers to incorporate into their assignments.

In addition, our applications for students and parents recommend highly personalized exercises that complement homework assigned by teachers for additional learning at students’ own pace.

Homework Submission, Evaluation and Supervision

Our applications allow students to submit the answers to their homework and other evaluation questions digitally through a range of common input mechanisms, including typing, digital handwriting and voice. Our teacher applications automatically grades or, at a minimum, generates preliminary marks for all homework sourced from our content library as soon as students complete their assignments. Our powerful automatic speech recognition and computer vision technologies enable real-time answer evaluation and grading of both spoken and written text formats with high accuracy and reliability. For more information on the related technologies, see “—Technology—Automatic Speech Recognition and Evaluation” and “—Technology—Computer Vision.”

We also enable parents to supervise their children’s homework in real-time. Our parent application sends automatic notifications for a range of activities, alerting parents of new assignments, delays and an overview of student homework results so that parents can easily track their children’s day-to-day learning progress.

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Tracking and Analyzing Homework Results

Our applications vastly improve the efficiency and depth with which teachers are able to track and analyze homework results to monitor student learning progress. For each homework assignment, our teacher applications automatically generate a comprehensive report based on insights from a wide variety of mission-critical data, including individual student results and class-wide accuracy rates, as well as average scores for each individual question. Our applications thereby promptly and precisely identify for teachers the weaknesses and areas of improvement of students both on a class-wide and an individual level, which is key to improving the effectiveness of their teaching and, ultimately, student educational outcomes. Our algorithm technologies also learn on this data to constantly fine-tune our homework recommendations for each teacher, creating a self-reinforcing cycle that rewards long-term, repeated use of our products.

Through their respective applications, students and parents can also access detailed compilations of all the mistakes students have made in the past, which constitute valuable personalized learning materials for students’ review and reference for parents’ guidance and supervision.

Academic Assessment

We assist teachers in various forms of academic assessment catering to their diverse needs. Leveraging our highly localized content library and powerful applications, teachers can design, distribute and easily grade assessments with ease in a range of assessment scenarios, from short quizzes to mid-term and final exams. Purely online academic assessments have become increasingly popular among teachers and schools since the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we also help teachers digitize, grade and review examinations distributed and completed in offline settings. Using our powerful algorithm technologies, we also provide teachers, schools and parents detailed post-assessments analysis reports to help them better understand and contextualize the academic performance of their students. For more information on the related algorithm technologies, see “—Technology—Big Data—Algorithms.”

Our After-School Tutoring Services

We started to offer online K-12 after-school tutoring courses in a large-class dual-teacher format in 2017. Under our “in-school + after-school” integrated model, we leverage our profound insights into student academic performance in school to design our online after-school tutoring courses. In addition, our significant presence in K-12 schools across China allows us to align our after-school tutoring content and learning modules with local curriculum and assessment objectives. Moreover, the trusted relationships we have developed with teachers, students and parents provide us with a large and familiar pool of prospective tutoring customers, as well as a community of supporters that provide organic word-of-mouth referrals.

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Course Offerings

We offer a comprehensive library of tutoring courses covering all grades and major subject matters required in high school and college entrance exams. We offer our courses in four semesters, namely, the two school semesters in Spring and Fall, and the two holiday semesters in Summer and Winter. We generally livestream our classes during weekends or during after-school hours on weekdays in the two school semesters in Spring and Fall and for a consecutive period of seven to ten days in the two holiday semesters in Summer and Winter. The following table provides our course offerings based on grades and subjects as of December 31, 2020:

 

 

 

Primary School

 

Middle School

 

High School

 

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

11

 

12

Mathematics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chemistry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Science