By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
China’s Tencent Is a New Investor
Investors in Wattpad’s newly announced US$51 million (CAD$61.25 million) funding round include China’s enormous Tencent Holdings Limited; BDC; Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures; the Peterson Group; and the formerly engaged investor Raine.
The new money is to be used, according to press materials from Wattpad offices in Toronto, to “support continued investment in machine learning and interactive storytelling, expanding the company’s global entertainment footprint in TV, film, digital media, and publishing as it adapts Wattpad stories for new formats, and other innovations. The company also plans to grow its team across all departments.”
In a prepared statement, co-founding CEO Allen Lau is quoted, saying, “Entertainment is in a period of disruption, and how people find and experience stories is evolving.
“With our global community of users, hundreds of millions of stories, and data-driven approach to helping people and partners find great content, Wattpad is leading both sides of this equation.”We empower diverse storytellers all over the world, helping them build a community of passionate readers; at the same time, we also connect Hollywood with stories that have massive built-in audiences.
“This new funding from Tencent and our other investors shows that confidence in our vision is growing alongside our revenue, our success and our community.”
As Publishing Perspectives has reported, Wattpad is beginning to serve as a guide to publishing industry players on its mostly-millennial user base’s interests and trends, even as it develops new partnerships with trade publishers and other various media including film and television companies through its Wattpad Studios wing.
And the company, in issuing its press notification of its new funding, is taking the opportunity to add a set of the kind of numbers this enormous reading-and-writing platform has become known for racking up.
Quoting today’s statement from the company:
- “Wattpad’s global community of users grew by more than 40 percent in 2017, and is now made up of more than 65 million people around the world
- “Story uploads climbed to more than 400 million
- “The company’s investments in machine learning have enhanced its personalization and recommendation systems for readers, increasing reading times for more engagement; similar story analysis tools are helping Wattpad writers build audiences and monetize their work
- “Wattpad has major TV, film and digital video partnerships with Universal Cable Productions (UCP), a division of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, eOne, CW Seed and others; the company works with publishing houses such as HarperCollins, Hachette Audio and Hachette Romans
- “Wattpad’s work in machine learning, deep learning and recurrent neural networks have also enhanced its ability to discover stories for adaptation and content trends that are now used across the entertainment industry; hundreds of Wattpad stories have been published as traditional books–many as best-sellers–and dozens have been adapted or licensed for TV, film and digital video, appearing on screens around the world
- “In 2017, Wattpad launched Tap by Wattpad, an immersive interactive storytelling experience that delivers short, conversational-style narratives that have accumulated more than 3 billion taps to date on over 300,000 stories available”
Of course, with tech companies come tech issues, and it’s perhaps mildly amusing that Wattpad is running a notice on the site this week about an upcoming four-hour upgrade for 10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. GMT) during which the operation will be in read-only mode with its writing functionality disabled.
Its loyal following, clearly, is undeterred by such realities of platform performance. Wattpad reports that in total, it has raised US$117.8 million from international investors in Asia, the States, and Canada. Previous investors include OMERS Ventures, August Capital, Union Square Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund, and Version One Ventures.