Kakao Enter buys web novel platform Wuxiaworld to take on Naver in North America

2021.12.17 13:50:51 | 2021.12.17 13:51:23

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Kakao Entertainment Corp., the content business subsidiary of South Korea’s Kakao Corp., took over Wuxiaworld, the U.S.-based Asian fantasy novel platform, to expand its presence in the North American e-read market.

Wuxiaworld is the No.1 Asian fantasy novel platform in America with monthly users of 1.5 million. Kakao Entertainment bought the platform through Radish, its web novel subsidiary acquired earlier this year, for $37.5 million. Wuxiaworld has posted an average of 40 percent annual sales growth and raises 85 percent of sales from subscriptions.

“Wuxiaworld has a great interest in Korean intellectual properties owned by Kakao Entertainment,” said Lee Sung-yoon, Kakao Entertainment’s global strategy officer (GSO) and CEO of Radish. “We will aggressively offer Kakao Entertainment’s IPs and utilize Radish’s business knowhow in the region to reshape the North American digital novel market.”

Kakao had bought Tapas Media, the operator of North America’s digital comic pioneer Tapas, and Radish earlier this year to ramp up its content business in North America. “We will use our winning strategies proved in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan to grow our presence in North America and ASEAN,” said Lee, adding that it has picked North America as an important strategic market where is has built an ample content lineup of Tapas, Radish and Wuxiaworld.

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The aggressive content business expansion of Kakao Entertainment is posing a threat to the market leader Naver. Naver entered North America in 2014 and has become No.1 player in the digital comic and novel platform market. The number of monthly users of Webtoon, Naver Webtoon’s North American platform, is 14 million, higher than the number of users of Apple TV. It is also the best-selling comic app on Google Play. Naver in January took over Wattpad, the biggest digital novel platform in the region boasting 94 million monthly users. It has been conducting a project to turn more than 100 web comics into videos in Wattpad Webtoon Studio.

Kakao has bought major platforms in America dominated by Naver, said an official from the content industry. Korean contents will deeply penetrate in the market while the competition of the country’s two platform giants is getting fiercer in the region, the official added.

By Oh Dae-seok and Choi Mira

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