Wattpad Storytelling App Sold for $600 Million to South Korean Firm Naver

Allen Lau - 2015 WIRED Business Conference - Getty - H 2018
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Wattpad CEO Allen Lau.

The internet group and home of Webtoon will combine its digital comics platform with the Canadian startup that uses data-driven technology to identify and co-produce YA and teen film and TV projects.

The Canadian storytelling app Wattpad has unveiled a deal to be acquired by Naver, the South Korean Internet conglomerate and home of Webtoon, the global digital comics platform as part of a cash and stock deal valued at $600 million.

The acquisition, when completed, will combine Wattpad and Webtoon into a platform with a joint global monthly audience of 160 million users. Wattpad will remain headquartered in Toronto under the leadership of co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen, and its board of directors offered its approval for the friendly takeover by publicly-listed Naver.

Wattpad uses its data-driven machine-learning technology to identify and co-produce YA and teen projects with international entertainment players, including Sony Pictures Television, Universal Cable Productions and Entertainment One. The storytelling app has also collaborated with Mediaset, Lagardere Studios and Huayi Brothers Korea to identify and develop TV shows from fiction story uploads shared on the online publishing platform.

Wattpad investors include Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, India's Times Bridge, BDC, Globe Telecom's Kickstart Ventures, Peterson Group and Raine.

Naver’s Webtoon is home to webcomic properties like Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe's and Webtoon Studios has worked with The Jim Henson Company, Crunchyroll, Vertigo Entertainment and Bound Entertainment, the studio led by Snowpiercer and Okja producer Samuel Ha.

"Co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen, and the entire team at Wattpad, have created something special, and we are grateful to have Allen and Ivan continue to lead this fantastic company for us post-acquisition," Seong-Sook Han, CEO of Naver, said in a statement.