Wattpad considers expansion, additional revenue streams under new owner | National company



TORONTO – Online storytelling firm Wattpad and its writer-users will have a better chance of growing their audiences – and revenues – after their sale to an Asian media conglomerate closes on Monday, says Allen Lau.

The CEO of Toronto-based Wattpad Corp. anticipates a flood of new revenue streams as South Korean owner Naver is deeply connected in areas where Wattpad has little presence.

“Not only will the audience size increase, the number of IP addresses will increase, and the number of ways we can monetize content will also increase,” Lau said in an interview.

“That’s why it’s such a match made in heaven. Business will be greatly, greatly accelerated.”

Lau’s remarks came about four months after he announced the sale of the self-publishing platform he and his pal Ivan Yuen had imagined on a napkin in a food court at Vancouver Airport in 2006.

Between its inception and its US $ 600 million sale, approximately five million writers used the platform to publish articles. In recent years, Wattpad has realized that the treasure trove of titles is a major asset.

He began to cash in on the intellectual property at hand by adapting blockbuster titles with rabid online fans at breakneck speed to movies, TV series and books.

Lau believes the Naver Accord will only speed up that pace as it brings comic and animation capabilities that Wattpad currently lacks.

“It’s very clear that we can capture even more value,” he said.

Along with its search engine and e-commerce offerings, Naver owns Webtoon, an online platform that is the source of successful web comics like “Lore Olympus”, and has worked with the Jim Henson company. and the producers of the franchise “The Lego Movie” and “It”.

Wattpad is currently working on over 100 projects including “The Hound”, “The Bro Code”, “Paradise Garden” and “Slow Dancing”, TV series and film adaptations of “Perfect Addiction”, “Along for the Ride” and “Float.”

Her crown jewel – the sizzling fan-fiction series “After” written by Anna Todd – also began filming on its latest film adaptation to the five-part series that made Wattpad a household name.

To complete those projects and kick off another round, Lau announced Monday that Wattpad will increase its team to 215 members in 2021.

That’s about 100 new roles in engineering, marketing, content, and other parts of the business. They will all be based at Wattpad’s offices in Toronto or Halifax.

In the months leading up to Wattpad’s big announcement, Montreal-based tech company Element AI was sold to California-based cloud company Service Now and PayBright, Toronto’s “buy now, pay later” company, was bought by Affirm, his rival from San Francisco.

Lau will remain the CEO of Wattpad and is keen to ensure that the company’s Canadian identity doesn’t fade as she heads into a future with a distant owner.

He said: “Last year was one of the fastest growing in company history… this year is going to be even faster.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 10, 2021.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


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