It’s The Final Curtain Call. A New Story Begins.

After spending 15 years at the helm of Wattpad, today I am starting a new role as Executive Advisor to the WEBTOON family of brands. That’s right, I’m stepping aside as CEO of Wattpad to apply my experience and skills to this new role alongside my other activities as an investor and board member.

As I reflect on the journey of building Wattpad over the years I am amazed at what I’ve accomplished together with my co-founder Ivan Yuen and the entire Wattpad team.

What started as a place to read and write stories on your mobile device, has grown into a product and community loved by close to 100 million people.

We pioneered storytelling technology, changed how people read, write and engage with fictional stories, and transformed the entertainment and publishing industries. Leveraging our massive built-in fandoms and data, we turned numerous top Wattpad stories into hit movies, TV shows, and bestselling books. These movies and shows have topped the box office and ‘most watched’ charts on streaming services, gone on to win Teen Choice Awards, a People’s Choice Award, and even received Emmy nominations, and all have changed the lives of a new generation of creators. It’s been an honour and privilege to democratize who gets to tell their story and redefine how the world reads and shares fiction.

We raised record amounts of capital at the time from top-tier investors in Canada, US, and Asia. We were one of the first to commit to scaling our company in Toronto and then successfully proved you could build a world-class tech company here. We played a part in re-shaping the overall narrative of the innovation ecosystem in Canada.

These are the things you simply don’t think about when you’re starting out, writing code, and bringing an idea to life. To say I am incredibly proud is an understatement.

The past year was record-breaking for Wattpad. Since the acquisition – one of the largest for a Canadian technology company – we have never grown faster. With the Grand Plan in place, it’s the perfect time to pass the baton to Wattpad President Jeanne Lam and Wattpad WEBTOON Studios’ President Aron Levitz in leading the team to achieve the vision. With such strong leaders, Wattpad is in great hands.

I’ve always been a natural builder and I will continue to help build the “next big thing” as Executive Advisor to WEBTOON, as a venture partner of Two Small Fish Ventures, and board member of two of Canada’s most important cultural and innovation organizations, the Toronto International Film Festival and MaRS.

It has been a life-changing 15-year journey for me, my family, the Wattpad team, and millions of Wattpadders around the world. Thanks for all your support. Thanks for sharing all the emotions. Thanks for all the wonderful times and good memories. Thanks for being here with me. I can’t say thank you enough.

Calling this a new chapter or the next season would be a misnomer – it’s the final curtain call of my career as a CEO. But I’m not done yet! I’m still at the top of my game. I’m still hungry for more wins. I still want to make an even bigger impact. My new story begins today.

Storytelling for change

Before we rung in the new year, Wattpad released its Year in Review, highlighting the trends and community movements that defined the year on the global entertainment platform. In a year when people around the world were pushing for progressive social change, Wattpad’s community of 70 million users broke new ground in literary representation and created a safe space online for marginalized voices and their stories.

From #MuslimRomance to Mental Health Awareness, Wattpad stories celebrate inclusivity across characters and genres. Check out the full Year in Review below:

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Halo Indonesia!

Building a global product requires intent and sustained commitment. From launch day, entrepreneurs need to think globally and take international users, their interests and habits into account. When Wattpad launched over a decade ago, some of our very first users were based in Asia. our international community has thrived since then, and now we have 65 million users in nearly every country of the world and support over 50 languages.

Today is a huge milestone for Toronto-based Wattpad: We announced a landmark production deal with Indonesian-based iflix, the world’s leading entertainment service for emerging markets, to bring Wattpad stories to millions of iflix users across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Over the next year, iflix and Wattpad will co-produce dozens of original movies based on Wattpad stories from Indonesia. You can read all about it in the official blog post here.

Wattpad has more than 17 million users in Southeast Asia, and Indonesia is one of our fastest-growing markets. Fans of the six million original Indonesian stories on Wattpad will soon be able to enjoy them in a completely new format.

Wattpad adaptations can be massively successful (Netflix’s The Kissing Booth, anyone?) Stories that are adapted into other formats already have a built-in audience that love and follow the story on and off the Wattpad platform. Our proprietary data gives producers insights into the story they can’t find anywhere else. We can tell production teams what characters resonate with the audience, what plot points generate the most intense reaction from fans and more. These detailed insights lead to more awesome adaptations. Then, when an adaptation is ready, Wattpad has the ability to promote the book/movie/series to a global audience of over 65 million people, including targeted marketing to the story’s original fans.  

This iflix partnership is one more step towards cementing Wattpad as a global entertainment powerhouse. We know that Wattpad can dramatically improve the success of traditional entertainment projects, and the industry is catching on.

Read all about the news here.