Social storytelling platform Wattpad is being acquired by Webtoon’s Korean parent company Naver in a cash and stock transaction valued at more than $600 million, it was announced on Tuesday.
Webtoon and Wattpad will collaborate to create stronger storytelling content with a combined user base of over 160 million monthly users.
“Wattpad joining Webtoon under the Naver umbrella will be a big step towards us becoming a leading global multimedia entertainment company,” Naver Webtoon founder and CEO Jun Koo Kim said in a statement. “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.”
Webtoon’s horror series “Sweet Home” recently launched as a Netflix Original in December and ranked No. 1 in Korea and No. 2 globally. Wattpad in general has seen successes with published books as well as TV and film adaptations, including the “After” franchise and Hulu’s series “Light as a Feather.”
Last May, Wattpad announced it would be expanding into film developments. Founded in 2006, Wattpad allows users to write, post and read short, text-based novels. Readers can engage with the content by commenting on the novel or “liking” specific paragraphs. This data is then used by the company to identify emerging trends within the platform — such as what type of content is being written about and engaged with the most. The company then uses this information to help studios create video content, with Sony Pictures Television, Hulu and more having all used the data.
Webtoon is a digital publishing and self-publishing platform for digital comics and is the No. 1 app among 16-24 year olds in Korea, and is in the top tier among the same age group in other countries including the United States. Naver is Korea’s largest information technology company, operating Korea’s No. 1 search engine and largest e-commerce platform.
The transaction is expected to close within the first half of 2021 and is subject to customary regulatory approvals.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP Naver’s legal advisors.