Leading social storytelling platform Wattpad aligns with WEBTOON, leading global digital comics platform
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19, 2021 /CNW/ — The Board of Directors of WEBTOON™’s parent company, NAVER, announced today that it has approved a definitive agreement to acquire leading social storytelling platform, Wattpad, in a cash and stock transaction valued at more than an estimated USD 600 million.
With the backing of Korean technology giant, NAVER, WEBTOON and Wattpad will collaborate to create a stronger and connected ecosystem across visual and textual storytelling content, with a combined reader base of over 160 million monthly users globally. WEBTOON’s innovative monetization model and Wattpad’s massive library of diverse stories will provide each prospective affiliate with new levers for growth, creating a stronger foundation to fund an aspiring generation of young, creative talent.
Webcomics and webnovels have already proven to serve as valuable source content for successful secondary works. WEBTOON’s horror strip Sweet Home recently launched as a Netflix Original on December 18, 2020, ranking No. 1 in Korea and No.  globally for a Netflix TV show in [the month of December]. Wattpad has seen enormous entertainment success with published books, as well as TV, and film adaptations like the After franchise, Hulu’s series Light as a Feather, and the hit Indonesian Vidio Originals series Turn On.
“Wattpad joining WEBTOON under the NAVER umbrella will be a big step towards us becoming a leading global multimedia entertainment company,” said NAVER WEBTOON founder and CEO, Jun Koo Kim. “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.”
The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close within the first half of this year.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP are acting as legal advisors to NAVER.
Note for media and analysts:
WEBTOON, a subsidiary of NAVER, is the world’s leading digital platform for visual storytelling, with more than 72+ million global monthly readers. As the first modern digital publishing and self-publishing platform for digital comics, WEBTOON has revolutionized the way visual stories are created and consumed, allowing anyone to become a creator. WEBTOON is the No.1 app among 16-24 year olds in Korea and also is in the top tier among the same group in other countries, including the United States.
NAVER invests in the pursuit of transformation and innovation of technology platforms and is devoted to shared growth by connecting global users and partners. Founded in 1999, NAVER is Korea’s largest information technology company. NAVER operates Korea’s No.1 search engine and largest e-commerce platform, and is a leading provider of fintech services, digital content and cloud services to a global community. NAVER cultivates a culture of ‘Founder-type leaders’ who continue to launch innovative mobile applications, including LINE (Japan’s No.1 messaging app), NAVER Webtoon and SNOW. In 2018, NAVER was ranked as the 9th most innovative company by Forbes and top 6th Future 50 company by Fortune magazine.