Toronto-based Wattpad has been named 2016 Innovator of the Year by CIX, the Canadian Innovation Exchange, recognizing the role the company has played, led by co-founder and CEO Allen Lau, in transforming the relationship between readers and writing, while also expanding its content offerings globally to incorporate Wattpad-branded multi-media properties.
Founded in 2006, Wattpad has gone on to become the world’s largest social publishing platform with more than two million content creators having uploaded 250 million original stories for an audience of more than 40 million regular Wattpad users, 95% of whom are under 30 years of age.
“We are building the next major entertainment giant right here in Canada,” said Lau. “To accept this award in our tenth year as a company is a truly humbling experience that validates the work we do to transform how people around the world create and share stories.”
With a $17.3 million investment from Khosla Ventures in 2012, followed by an endorsement from Margaret Atwood in 2013, Wattpad has achieved a momentum that legitimizes it as a social networking hub for self-publishers, and now a media partner for established networks and programming producers.
Wattpad has raised approximately $66.8 million in venture capital funding, from investors including August Capital, Golden Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures, Northleaf Capital Partners, OMERS Ventures, Raine Ventures, Union Square Ventures and W Media Ventures.
“Wattpad has transformed the storytelling experience for millions of people. Wattpad connects storytellers and audiences around the world, and is now changing how the global entertainment industry discovers and produces content,” said Jim Orlando, Managing Director at OMERS Ventures. “We are very proud to be an investor in Wattpad.”
In 2014, Wattpad partnered with Philippines-based Kapatid Network, produced by TV5, on Wattpad Presents, a prime-time daily drama, which serialized 40 Wattpad stories into 200 television episodes.
In April of this year, Wattpad launched Wattpad Studios, the company’s multi-channel network for co-producing stories for print, film, television, and digital platforms with strategic media partners, helmed by former head of business development Aron Levitz.
In June, Wattpad partnered with Turner Network Television and Turner Broadcasting System to adapt the works of its 45 million writers of fan fiction for executive producer M. Night Shyamalan’s Tales From The Crypt TV show, scheduled to premiere in 2017, as well as for the networks’ digital and mobile platforms.
“Storytelling hasn’t been the same since Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen launched Wattpad. When we first invested in the company in 2011, we were impressed with their vision of how mobile would reshape the way people share and tell stories,” said Matt Golden, Managing Director, Golden Venture Partners. “Five years later, they’ve delivered on that vision and more. Today, Wattpad stories grace every screen – mobile, television, and movie. We’re thrilled Wattpad is being recognized by CIX for the innovative company we know it is.”
Last year’s CIX Innovator of the Year award went to Ottawa’s Shopify Inc. (NYSE: SHOP) (TSX: SH), just a few months after their dual-listed IPO.
Past recipients of CIX’s Innovator of the Year Award have been Desire2Learn and Vision Critical.
Allen Lau will accept the award at CIX in the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto on November 22.