Naver buys 100% stake in self-publishing site Wattpad

Yolanda Curtis
January 21, 2021

Wattpad, the user-generated fiction platform and leisure firm, introduced that it agreed to be acquired by Korean web conglomerate Naver, mother or father of digital comics platform Webtoon, in a deal price greater than $600 million.

Lau said Naver will offer Wattpad a chance to get into animation and to grow beyond the 90 million users - including more than five million writers - that Wattpad has. As the first modern digital publishing and self-publishing platform for digital comics, WEBTOON has revolutionized the way visual stories are created and consumed, allowing anyone to become a creator.

"Naver Webtoon is able to take hold of more diverse global storytelling IP (intellectual property) through Wattpad", said Naver Webtoon CEO Kim Jun-koo in a press release Wednesday. Naver, which has a domestic platform for Korean web novels, is betting that an ecosystem for web novels can be made in a similar fashion by applying its successful webtoon business model to Wattpad, which has lacked a means of monetization.

"The Wattpad you know will largely feel the same over the coming months".

The acquisition is expected to close in Q2 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Naver Webtoon has 72 million monthly users. Wattpad's headquarters will still be in Canada under the leadership of founders Ivan Yuen and Allen Lau.

Now there are 1,500 Wattpad stories that have been published as books.

That's not to say things will remain the same, as Wattpad intends to continue its explosive growth as a full-on worldwide media company. Some of these stories have been adapted for film or TV.

The company had earlier raised $117.8 million from global investors in Asia, the United States, and Canada. Wattpad's Story DNA Machine Learning technology allows the company to discover stand-out stories among more than one billion uploads written on the platform.

In addition to the main Wattpad platform, which has long reigned as one of the most popular places to read and write fan fiction anywhere online, the company also now has its own film and TV production arm (Wattpad Studios), publishing house (Wattpad Books), and a business division called Wattpad Brand Partnerships.

"Wattpad doesn't have many ways of generating profit".

Naver, based in 1999, operates Korea's No.1 search engine and largest e-commerce platform and owns different companies and types together with Webtoon, Japan's Line messaging app and the Snow video app.

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