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After $600 Million Sale, Storytelling App Wattpad Eyes Expansion

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The platform, acquired by South Korean firm Naver, has about 90 film and TV projects. When South Korean tech giant Naver paid $ 600 million for the storytelling app Wattpad on January 19, the companies pointed to global expansion as an argument for the deal. Notably, Wattpad CEO Alan Lau told the Hollywood Reporter, this is about two numbers.

“What’s better than 90 million monthly users?” One hundred and sixty million users” says Lau. The executive is talking about adding 90 million users with Wattpad to the United States and Japanese markets with Naver’s WebToon global digital comics platform and its 72 million monthly users.

Launched in 2006, Wattpad is a digital platform that allows amateur writers to publish their works of fiction online. The Wattpad model then uses its algorithm to identify the intellectual property on its app that can be co-produced with entertainment players such as Sony Pictures TV and Universal Cable Productions as a YA project.

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An example: Kissing Booth, a web novel by Beth Reekles, has amassed 19 million applications written on Wattpad, with the first Kissing Booth 3 later this year before it became a Netflix franchise.

Prior to a sale, Lau and Wattpad co-founder Evan Yuen heard offers from global players; Sources say that ByteDance, owner of Spotify and TikTok, made a formal bid.

But with Naver as the winning bidder, Wattpad is able to speed up any plans to turn stories on his stage into a comic book or animation. Michael Yang, a partner at OMERS Ventures, notes: “The synergy of the form factor ranges from animation/illustration/comics to text, so Webtoon and Wattpad can learn from each other.”

Wattpad has approximately 90 film and TV projects. To date, approximately 1500 of its stories have been published as adapted for books or TV and film. The latest screen conversions include the Indonesian series Turn On, produced with Screenplay Films for video streamer, and Slow Dancing, co-produced with MediaCorp of Singapore.

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Peter Sesathi, the founder of advisory firm CreaTV Media, says the deal addresses the issue globally. “With Wattpad, Naver now has a major young adult beach in North America, while Wattpad is substantial in South Korea and Asia,” says Sepatti.

Aron Levies, head of Wattpad Studios, says that the firm sets itself apart from rival producers by field testing with its users on the platform that resonates on the platform prior to the development of TV or film. Levitz notes: “It’s how we find our ways in stories, and that there is a big difference in how publishing and entertainment are chosen around the world.”

Wattpad sat in the boardroom before committing, seeing the Naver deal for the Wattpad and its machine-learning technology changing the rules of the game. “Wattpad has a unique ability to detect hits early in the cycle through its AI engine, and this allows Wattpad to bring viewers ready for other media and therefore break above noise,” Orlando notes.

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