China largest online headhunters Liepin Goes Public in HK become its first listed HR-tech Unicorn

Liepin.com went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on June 29th at an opening price of HKD 31.6, down 4.2% from its initial offering price, which puts Liepin’s valuation at approximately HKD15.66 billion (or USD 2 billion).

"We want to take advantage of this opportunity and the appetite for high-end talent"

Said Rick Dai, founder and CEO of Wise Talent, ahead of the listing, adding the IPO was well-timed given the rapid growth in China’s tech space and increasing needs for high-end executives in the market.

Liepin, which literally translates into “hunting” and “recruiting” in Chinese, is the largest online talent services platform targeting high-end talents in China with a database of 38.9 million professionals, 248,600 companies and 101,840 certified headhunters.

In June 2016, the company completed a $100-million Series D funding led by the China Mobile Innovation Industry Fund, reaching a stunning valuation of $1 billion.

Backed by venture capital firm Matrix Partners China, the Beijing-based company aims to sell 88 million shares with each priced at HKD $33 in the Hong Kong stock market.

Earlier in April, Liepin.com filed its prospectus for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong, working with Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Securities (Far East) Limited. In 2017, six years after the e-recruiting site’s inception, Liepin.com turned profitable, posting a net income of 7.55 million yuan.

The homegrown recruiting master faces head-on competition from local players like 51job and Zhaopin.com, which together account for more than half of China’s online recruitment market. Neither 51job or Zhaopin.com has a solid foothold in the niche executive recruiting battlefield – where Liepin.com is rooted – but LinkedIn may be a cutthroat rival. The leading solution provider in recruiting and professional networking made its foray into the region in 2014, and has been doing surprisingly well since then. The US tech giant has more than 41 million Chinese users.

In its filing with the HKEx, Liepin.com said it plans to use around 40 percent of the IPO proceeds to enhance its research and development capabilities, improve existing matching algorithms and develop AI-empowered voice and facial recognition technologies. Liepin.com envisions a future where robots interview potential job candidates.

Part of the fresh capital will go towards acquisitions of or investments in business that are complementary or that could open the tap for strategic growth. Another 25 percent will go toward improving sales and marketing initiatives, and the remainder to working capital.