Home Entertainment Webtoon Entertainment CEO On Nasdaq Listing, U.S. Plans & Rev Shares

Webtoon Entertainment CEO On Nasdaq Listing, U.S. Plans & Rev Shares


EXCLUSIVE: Webtoon Entertainment CEO Junkoo Kim has said listing on Nasdaq will bolster efforts to adapt the company’s IPs into different formats and increase opportunities to collaborate with global partners.

The company closed its first trading day at $23, marking a 9.5% increase from its IPO price of $21, with the company’s market capitalization hovering around $2.9B. In an exclusive interview with Deadline, its bosses revealed how the new cash would help drive growth in the U.S. and provided color around the company’s revenue share model with the wealth of creators on the platform.

“We are dominant in Korea, have a strong foothold in Japan, and we are in the earliest stage of a massive market opportunity in North America,” said Yongsoo Kim, the company’s Chief Strategy Officer. “Listing in the U.S. will help accelerate our growth in this market, helping us to get more users and more opportunities with U.S. local players. We believe that this is a huge moment for us with big growth potential.”

Yongsoo Kim said that the Nasdaq listing will also enhance the company’s ability to hire more talent to strengthen its advertising business as well as the data and technology fronts. Last week’s IPO offer was designed to immediately add around $315M into its accounts.

“Capital will give us more opportunities, which will allow us to invest more in terms of data and technological innovation and also test and experiment more with our content using this capital,” said Yongsoo Kim.

Junkoo Kim said that there are usually three routes for adaptations of Webtoon Entertainment IP — licensing, co-productions and certain in-house productions. “We are very selective in doing this because the production business is not our main business — we are a platform company,” he said. However, he added some key titles require full creative control to achieve a “big business upside.”

Ventures under the Webtoon Entertainment umbrella include webnovel platform Wattpad, the US-based Wattpad Webtoon Studios, Korea-based Studio N, Studio Lico, Webtoon Unscrolled, Line Manga and eBookJapan.

Recent high-profile projects include adaptations of Black Knight, Bloodhounds, and See You In My 19th Life on Netflix, as well as Connect, from acclaimed director Takashi Miike on Disney+ and Marry My Husband on Amazon Prime. The third season of Sweet Home will also premiere on Netflix in July.

Junkoo Kim said that a good percentage of Netflix’s Korean content comes from webtoons, demonstrating the deep potential for adaptations into series and films.

Creative ownership

Webtoon adaptations have proven popular with streamers as there is an in-built and proven fanbase for the stories. Junkoo Kim also stated that having a wealth of data from the Webtoon platform proves helpful in analyzing what stories will work for each streamer and different audience segments.

Webtoon has different contracts with its global creators on revenue shares, depending on factors such as advertising revenue, traffic as well as licensing and production fees. Creators maintain ownership of their IP, with Webtoon holding a minority stake, the company revealed.

Kim said that the biggest challenge the company faces is generative AI and figuring out the role that it will play in the webcomics ecosystem. While Webtoon creators strictly do not use AI to generate content, AI has been incorporated into a few technical aspects of the workflow to increase productivity.

The Webtoon platform has approximately 170 million monthly active users, as of Q1 2024, and around 24 million global creators, including both professional and amateur content makers.

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