Canadian storytelling startup Wattpad has hired Dexter Ong to help lead its expansion into Asia.
As head of Asia for Wattpad Studios, based in Hong Kong, Ong will work with local entertainment studios, producers and writers to turn Wattpad stories into film, television, print and digital projects.
Wattpad, founded in 2006, operates a platform that allows amateurs to publish their own works of fiction. In recent years, the company has ramped up its footprint in film and TV by striking deals with Universal Cable Productions, eOne and others to adapt the platform’s IP into entertainment properties.
Ong’s hire comes in the wake of Wattpad’s recent $51 million funding round from major Asian investors, including China’s Tencent and Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures in the Philippines, as well other international firms. To date, the company has raised more than $117 million.
Wattpad claims some 65 million users worldwide, including more than 17 million in Southeast Asia. The company has previously partnered with the TV5 Network in the Philippines to co-produce the Wattpad Presents anthology series, which resulted in 250 episodes based on Wattpad stories.
“Southeast Asia is one of our most important regions globally, with some of our most dedicated and passionate users,” said Aron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios. “Dexter’s regional expertise and global perspective are the perfect combination to help us expand our entertainment footprint in Asia.”
Ong comes to Wattpad from 21st Century Fox Asia, where he served as director of corporate development and oversaw strategy for production and digital video products. Prior to that role Ong was with CA Media, the Asia arm of The Chernin Group, where he led content development for NET TV.
“I’m looking forward to helping Wattpad bring more original stories to market that will captivate audiences in Asia and beyond,” Ong said in a statement.
Wattpad has made a series of promotions and hires in recent months. In 2017, Eric Lehrman moved from NBCUniversal’s USA Network to join Wattpad as head of content development and production. The company also recently promoted Kelly Steen to Wattpad Studios’ director of business development in the U.S. and Europe, while Ashleigh Gardner was elevated to deputy general manager of Wattpad Studios, Publishing. The company says it plans to add 40 positions this year to support its expanding international entertainment business.