S. Korea’s Naver to buy global storytelling platform Wattpad for $600 mn

2021.01.21 11:12:17 | 2021.01.21 15:50:56

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South Korean internet giant Naver Corp., which runs the world’s largest webtoon platform, will acquire Wattpad Corp., a Toronto, Canada-based social storytelling platform, for $600 million, expanding its footprint in the global entertainment scene with enhanced storytelling content.

Naver announced on Wednesday that its board on Monday approved a plan to buy a full stake in Wattpad, the world’s largest web novel platform, for $600 million.

Wattpad has more than 90 million monthly users and generates 23 billion minutes per month in total reading time. About 1,500 stories from Wattpad have been published as books or adapted for movies or TV shows.

Having Wattpad under its arm, Naver, which operates Naver Webtoon that has 72 million monthly users, would become the world’s biggest storytelling platform with a combined 160 million content users. The acquisition is also expected to allow Naver to expand presence in global content business with 90 million Wattpad users from different cultural backgrounds including North America and Europe, in which Naver has weak presence, and 1 billion story content created by 5 million authors across the world.

Naver will also be able to upgrade Wattpad platform’s business model, using its intellectual property business knowhow earned from years of operating Naver Webtoon.

In 2013, Naver Webtoon created page profit share (PPS) program that involves paid view, advertisement, and IP business. In 2014, it launched global webtoon service, offering contents in English and Chinese.

An unnamed Naver official expected that Wattpad would be able to enhance its web novel ecosystem under Naver and become more powerful content provider for the entertainment industry. The addition of web novels is also expected to help diversify and enhance its webtoon content.

Naver Webtoon has already proved success of web novel-based global webtoons through Remarried Empress and Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint.

The latest acquisition is also expected to create synergy in Naver’s movie and TV show business by bringing Wattpad’s own studio for global video business and Naver Webtoon’s Studio N together.

Kim Joon-ku, chief executive of Naver Webtoon, expected that the addition of Wattpad will allow the Korean company to move a step closer to becoming a leading global entertainment company with enhanced IP diversification.

Naver plans to complete necessary administrative work for the acquisition in Korea, the U.S., and Canada, in the first half of this year. Meanwhile, Naver Webtoon has plans to go public in U.S. Nasdaq next year.

Shares of Naver closed 4.71 percent higher at 322,500 won ($293.45) on Thursday.

By Lee Dong-in and Lee Eun-joo

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