Naver, Korea's leading internet platform, has completed its acquisition of Wattpad for more than $600 million in cash and stock. Wattpad will remain headquartered in Toronto under the leadership of founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. Lau will serve as CEO, reporting to Jun Koo Kim, CEO of Webtoon, Naver's online comics platform. Over the next year, Naver plans to hire an additional 100 staffers to work at Wattpad in engineering, marketing, content, and in other roles, according to a press release.
In an interview with PW in January, Lau called the acquisition by Naver and the relationship with Webtoon “a match made in heaven" and emphasized the synergies between the two companies. “We are both multiplatform entertainment companies and are perfectly aligned. We offer online reading and writing, book publishing and relationships with television and film studios. Webtoon offers digital comics and animation.”
Wattpad attracts some 90 million monthly users, including five million writers who have contributed stories to the platform. Naver's Webtoon brings in 76 million monthly users.
Wattpad has aggressively pursued monetization opportunities in recent years, pouring energy into licensing works on its site for film and television development, and now has some 90 projects in development. It's "paid stories" platform for writers on its site generates micropayments for its writers and has now paid out over $1 million to writers. More recently, the company has expanded further into developing branded content, and in March launched Wattpad Brand Originals, which will work to develop TV series, films, podcasts, and digital media projects from popular Wattpad stories.