Wattpad is expanding into Asia. Today the company announced the appointment of Dexter Ong as Head of Asia for Wattpad Studios. Ong, which is the company’s first hire in Asia, will oversee Wattpad Studios’ expansion in Asian markets, where he’ll work with local entertainment studios, producers, and writers to turn Wattpad stories into film, television, print and digital projects.
Based in Hong Kong, Ong joins Wattpad after the company recently closed $51 million in new funding from Asian investors, including China’s Tencent and Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures in the Philippines.
“With so many content options for consumers, entertainment companies need to find stories that people actually want to watch,” said Ong. “With more than 400 million stories from original voices from all over the world and built-in audiences, Wattpad’s data and insights make it possible to uncover the next bingeable series, bestselling book, or blockbuster hit. I’m looking forward to helping Wattpad bring more original stories to market that will captivate audiences in Asia and beyond.”
Wattpad has a global community of more than 65 million users, including more than 17 million people in Southeast Asia who, according to the company, spend billions of minutes on the platform every month. The company has previously partnered with the TV5 Network in the Philippines to co-produce the Wattpad Presents anthology series. The show produced 250 episodes based on Wattpad stories.
In addition to Ong’s hire, Wattpad also recently promoted Kelly Steen to Wattpad Studios’ Director of Business Development for U.S. and Europe; Ashleigh Gardner was promoted to Deputy General Manager, Wattpad Studios, Publishing. The company plans to add 40 positions in 2018 to support its expanding international entertainment business, as well as work in Machine Learning and interactive storytelling.
Launched in 2006, Wattpad has grown its reputation from being an online community where users can come to read and write short, mobile-first stories, to being a go-to platform for entertainment companies who are looking for fresh, culturally relevant stories. Just last November, Lionsgate tapped the platform’s creative community to find three 500-word stories about choosing kindness that were then made into short films to promote the entertainment company’s feature film, “Wonder. Wattpad has also worked with Universal Cable Productions, eOne, CW Seed, Hachette Romans, and HarperCollins Children’s Books.