Webtoon Launched IPO on Nasdaq

By Chanak Maduranga

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Webtoon Launched IPO on Nasdaq
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Webtoon already changed the face of 21st century comics by pioneering the mobile webcomic format. Yesterday, the company took a major step toward global and Hollywood domination by launching its initial public offering on the Nasdaq.

With a ticker symbol of WBTN, the company, backed by South Korean tech titan Naver, quickly gained a valuation of over $2.7 billion. It’s a major milestone for the Los Angeles-based company that Junkoo Kim launched in 2005. The platform produces content that then comes out in installments or “episodes,” with Webtoon now boasting 170 million active monthly users.

“We are a category creator, and I believe that today, as we listed publicly, we are now recognized as a global player; we were recognized for our potential,” Kim told The Hollywood Reporter. “And as a category creator, I would like to build this industry even further and today is the starting point.”

Digital comics are embraced in Asia and very popular in North America. But comics are still considered the domain of traditional floppy books dominated by DC and Marvel. Webtoon is changing that perception by focusing on the teenaged demo, non-superhero genres, and by making it easy for anyone to create content. Among its popular titles are Lore Olympus and Tower of God.

It also pays its creators. The company boasts a mind-boggling 55 million titles and 24 million creators, and says its professional creators earn $48,000 a year, with the top 100 earning over $1 million.

The company’s revenue comes from customers paying for content and from advertising. Ten percent of its revenue comes from the adaptation of its titles, and the company invisions plenty of growth possibilities in Hollywood, said chief strategy officer Yongsoo Kim.

In Korea, for example, Junkoo Kim said that half of what Netflix produced locally was based on Webtoon IP.

“We want to be a player like that in the next five years,” said Junkoo Kim.

Some recent titles that attracted Hollywood attention are Death of a Pop Star, which has Diablo Cody adaptation in the works, and Freaking Romance, which Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment is tackling.

“We will try to maximize our content to be adapted by other formats,” said Yongsoo Kim.

And one edge the company has is its technology. Like any streamer, Webtoon mines data and knows who is reading what, their preferences, their gender and their age, and what market they are in.

“Our IPs are not simply IPs but packaged data,” said Kim.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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