Naver is the leading search engine and digital tools and services provider, a platform akin to Google, in Korea. Naver is also home to the online comics platform Webtoon, which has 72 million monthly users and has produced such popular series as Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, and worked with numerous notable corporations including the Jim Henson Company, Crunchyroll, and Vertigo.
Wattpad, the online social writing and reading platform based in Toronto, has more than five million writers contributing to the site, and reached some 90 million people in 2020. In all, users spent 23 billion minutes a month on the site, which is best known for genre works written by and aimed at young adult audiences. In recent years, Wattpad has inked numerous production deals with Hollywood studios and launched its own young adult publishing imprint, which has released 21 titles to date. The company has a significant international presence, and says that some 1,500 works from the site have been produced as books, films, or television series around the world.
Wattpad will join Naver under the Webtoon brand. Co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen will continue to lead Wattpad after the acquisition.
"Wattpad’s vision to entertain and connect the world through stories fits perfectly with our vision for Webtoon and Naver’s content brand," said Seong-Sook Han, CEO of Naver. Webtoon founder and CEO Jun Koo Kim added: "Wattpad joining Webtoon under the Naver umbrella is a big step towards us becoming a leading global multimedia entertainment company. Both Wattpad and Webtoon care most about helping creators tell their story their way, and both represent world-leading collections of inspired, imaginative storytelling IP."
Wattpad's Lau said: "In 2021, when every form of entertainment is being transformed, we’ve built a platform that can fuel hits on screen and bookshelves, empowering and rewarding a new generation of diverse creators all over the world."
Wattpad previously raised several rounds of investment, including $117.8 million from international investors in Asia, the United States, and Canada. The company’s latest round brought in $51 million in 2018, led by Tencent Holdings Limited from China, and a variety of of other companies.
The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.