South Korea's biggest web company acquires Wattpad for $600 million

Naver's Webtoon and Wattpad will share a connected ecosystem.

Wattpad co-founder Allen Lau (Brad Barket via Getty Images)

Webtoon and Wattpad may soon be inextricably linked. Naver, the South Korean internet giant behind the Webtoon digital comics platform, will acquire Wattpad for a deal worth US$600 million in cash and stocks. The two websites will have a “connected ecosystem” after the acquisition is complete. Neither side has revealed what that means exactly, but The Hollywood Reporter says they’ll share a platform for their combined audience of 160 million users.

Despite the acquisition, Wattpad will remain based in Toronto and under the leadership of its founders Allen Lau (pictured above) and Ivan Yuen. In its announcement, Naver said Webtoon’s “innovative monetization model and Wattpad's massive library of diverse stories will provide each prospective affiliate with new levers for growth.”

Both Webtoon and Wattpad had spawned successful books and shows in their lifetime. Wattpad says 1,500 stories that originated from its website had been published as books in the past. The storytelling app also uses machine-learning technology to identify the types of stories local audiences would most likely be interested in. It then co-produces shows based on those stories with entertainment companies, such as Sony Pictures Television, Universal Cable Productions and Asian streaming provider Viu. Several Webtoon titles had been adapted into TV shows, as well, including apocalyptic horror Sweet Home on Netflix.