Korean internet conglomerate Naver is set to acquire Canada-based online literature platform Wattpad in a deal valued at $600m, which is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.
Wattpad has built a 90 million strong global community, including more than 5 million writers. It will be aligned with Naver’s digitial comics platform, Webtoon, which claims 72 million monthly active users and has previously worked with Crunchyroll, The Jim Henson Company, Vertigo Entertainment and Samuel Ha’s Bound Entertainment (Okja).
According to a statement issued on January 19, Wattpad will remain headquartered in Toronto under the leadership of co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen.
“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,” said Naver CEO Seong-Sook Han. “Wattpad’s vision to entertain and connect the world through stories fits perfectly with our vision for Webtoon and Naver’s content brand. We’re thrilled to have them join the Naver family.”
Wattpad has previously raised $117.8m from investors including Tencent Holdings, BDC, Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures, Peterson Group, Canso and Raine Ventures.
Last December, Wattpad partnered with Indonesian streamer Vidio and production company Screenplay Films on three original series based on user generated content published on Wattpad. The first of the three series, Turn On, stars Giorgino Abraham and Clara Bernadeth in the story of an affluent tech exec who forms an unlikely bond with a struggling employee.
In addition to Webtoon, Naver operates Korea’s leading search engine and e-commerce platform and provides fintech services, as well as popular mobile messaging service LINE, which is also widely used in Thailand and Japan.