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Self-Publishing News: Wattpad Parent Company Webtoon Receives Nearly $3B Valuation In IPO

Self-Publishing News: Wattpad Parent Company Webtoon Receives Nearly $3B Valuation in IPO

ALLi News Editor, Dan Holloway

Last week, we saw another reminder that there are actually bigger parts of our world than the traditional publishers, including Wattpad. Remember when Simon & Schuster was up for sale, and the valuation was just north of $2 billion? I’m fairly sure I commented at the time on the fact that although we think of the big traditional publishers as the behemoths of our industry, the figures didn’t stack up.

Webtoon is the number one player in the world of digital comics and has backing from the South Korean giant Naver, whose own value is near $20 billion. Its portfolio includes the massively popular serial self-publishing platform Wattpad, which Naver bought for $600 million.

Last week Webtoon finally held its IPO (initial public offering) on the US Nasdaq exchange. It raised $315 million and gave the company a valuation of $2.9 billion at the end of the first day’s trading. The closing price represented a jump of 14 percent on the opening day.

This is not just a reminder of how much richer and broader the publishing world is than we often imagine. As Reuters commented, this is a fascinating part of a growing audience in the United States, UK, and beyond for the Korean popular culture of which the webcomic format is a great example. We saw this also in the past week with the prominence on the Glastonbury program of the K-Pop superband Seventeen.

As a writer, I am always greatly heartened to see expanding audiences for new formats, and formats that are as prominent as webcomics on platforms through which we as indies have access to such broad audiences. What’s also interesting about Webtoon, as with Wattpad, is the end-to-end process they have developed. It’s not only possible for something that first emerges as a tentative idea on their self-publishing platform to end up as a studio film, but it’s also something they have designed processes to actively encourage and facilitate. It makes absolute sense for a creative business, of course, proving concepts to a huge captive audience. It’s just surprising others aren’t really doing the same.

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Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


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