Korean internet giant Naver is to buy Wattpad for stock and cash, valuing the company at over $600m.
A deal for the platform was mooted earlier this month, with "multiple" bidders thought to be interested.
Naver, the largest search engine in Korea, has subsidiaries including digital comic publisher Webtoon. The move is expected to align Wattpad's global community of over 90 million people with Webtoon, which has an average of 72+ million monthly active users.
"Wattpad joining Webtoon under the Naver umbrella is a big step towards us becoming a leading global multimedia entertainment company,” said Webtoon founder and c.e.o, 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.”
Wattpad is free to use, and deploys artificial intelligence to identify stories that could be adapted into other formats, including films secured by its film studio arm. In 2019 the company launched a press, Wattpad Books.
Commenting on the announcement, Naver c.e.o. Seong-Sook Han said: “Wattpad’s vision to entertain and connect the world through stories fits perfectly with our vision for Webtoon and Naver’s content brand.”
Wattpad c.e.o. and co-founder Allen Lau added: “In 2021, when every form of entertainment is being transformed, we’ve built a platform that can fuel hits on screen and bookshelves, empowering and rewarding a new generation of diverse creators all over the world. Today’s news is about continuing Wattpad’s journey and taking our business to the next level. We’re thrilled about the prospect of joining the amazing teams at Naver and Webtoon to continue our growth, help more writers make money, and bring new voices to screens and bookstores everywhere.”
The company will remain headquartered in Canada under the continued leadership of founders Lau and Ivan Yuen.
The deal is expected to be finalised in the second quarter, subject to regulatory approval.