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Wattpad’s takeover spells big opportunities for aspiring writers

Wattpad – the user-generated publishing app providing big-time opportunities to aspiring writers – is set for a huge year, with a purported $600 million buyout almost doubling its community in size.

It’s safe to say seniors at Wattpad aren’t exactly lacking in ambition.

In 2020, the self-publishing company outlined its desire to become the ultimate content feeder for streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, and a steady supplier of blockbuster material to boot. In one memorable public appearance, CEO Allen Lau even dared to dream that Wattpad could become the next Disney.

Through its active community of 90 million monthly writers and readers – of which 90% are millennials and Gen Z – Wattpad has already garnered a reputation as the biggest social network of original writers and readers on the planet. Its stories, written by both established and aspiring writers, regularly being picked up and adapted by multi-media giants like Sony, Netflix, and SYFY.

While the app’s growth since 2007 has been nothing short of astronomical, a purported $600 million takeover in the offing is set to propel the Toronto based start-up to a whole new level for 2021 and beyond.

The buyer in question is Naver Corp, South Korea’s most popular internet services provider, and the deal is set to establish a lucrative partnership between the two companies. Unlike your conventional takeover though, the new owners will allow Wattpad’s co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen to continue to operate independently out of Toronto, and are only focused on helping the platform to reach its full potential.

Don’t get it twisted though, this is far from just philanthropy. This is seriously good business.

As the parent company of the popular digital comics platform Webtoon, Naver Corp is planning to fully integrate the website’s features and content into Wattpad, creating a ‘connected ecosystem’ of the two platforms. Neither side has revealed exactly what the move will look like, but this merger will result in the pooling of over 160 million users.

Suffice to say, this is huge news for Wattpad and the thousands of daily contributors looking to get their stories out to the masses.

In the official announcement on Tuesday (Jan 19th), a spokesperson for Naver Corp revealed that the unification of both Webtoon’s ‘innovative monetisation model’ and Wattpad’s ‘massive library of diverse stories’ will quickly set up both companies for ‘new levels of growth,’ beginning in the second quarter of 2021.

Looking at the bigger picture, aside from obviously being a big development for social tech, this story stands as further testament to just how prominent DIY platforms are becoming in recent times. With the pandemic disrupting conventional steps to get a foot in the door of creative industries like art, music, or publishing, people are taking it upon themselves to get their work out into the public domain and to actively seek out professional opportunities. You’d best believe it’s working too.

With people cooped up in lockdown for months at a time, digital content has become arguably the hottest commodity of 2020 and the trend shows no sign of bucking anytime soon. In the last year alone, Wattpad has seen more than 70 of its user contributions go on to form the basis of commissioned TV and film projects, with many a first time writer receiving their big break.

As things currently are, with day-to-day life being so mundane, is there a more opportune time to shake things up and be creative? Who knows, you just might find yourself on the credits of the next big Netflix production.