Toronto’s Wattpad announced today that it has raised USD $51 million in new funding from Tencent, BDC, Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures, Peterson Group, and existing investor Raine.
The new funding will 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.
The global Wattpad community 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. 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 in the entertainment industry.
“Wattpad is the future of entertainment,” said Peter Misek, Partner, BDC’s IT Venture Fund. “By harnessing the power of verticalized data and AI, Wattpad has unlocked the true value of content creation, enabling discovery, production and distribution in exponentially new ways. The future can be found on Wattpad.”
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. 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, an immersive storytelling experience that delivers short, conversational-style narratives. Since launch, users all over the world have devoured Tap stories, with more than 3 billion taps to date on over 300,000 stories available.
Wattpad also landed at 14 on the recently released 2018 narwhal list, signalling the possibility for Canadian companies to turn into billion-dollar unicorns. Wattpad topped that list in terms of employment velocity though, which means the company is 2017’s fastest growing in terms of employee numbers.
To date Wattpad has raised USD $117.8 million from international investors in Asia, the US, 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.