South Korean startup Cocoa entertainment announced today that it has been acquired Wuxia world, an Asian fantasy fiction platform, through its serialized fiction app subsidiary radish to strengthen the mobile storytelling business. The transaction volume is 37.5 million US dollars.
Wuxiaworld, which has grown through word of mouth, claims it is now the largest English-speaking Asia fantasy platform in the US in terms of number of users. Fans have translated more than a hundred thousand Chinese and Korean fiction chapters into English. About 30% of users are from the US and Canada, 30% and 20% from Southeast Asia and Europe. The rest are scattered all over the world.
Wuxiaworld was founded in 2014 by Jingping (JP) Lai, a former American diplomat and a passionate fan of Chinese fantasy martial arts novels, or Wuxia, who began to translate Chinese martial arts fiction into English out of love for these works. Wuxiaworld has no physical offices, although it is headquartered in Hong Kong, Lai said. It will be 100% home-based as it has been since its inception, with Founder Lai remaining as CEO of the Asian fantasy storytelling platform, Lai told TechCrunch.
Wuxiaworld expects to bring more content to its platform with Kakao Entertainment’s broad access to the best original stories and intellectual property in Korea’s fast-growing online fiction series and Radish’s strong marketing team (in the US), Lai said. Wuxiaworld also has partnerships with Chinese digital publishers that can create additional synergies.
Via its website and app, Wuxiaworld has millions of page views daily in over 100 countries with a mostly male audience. In contrast, Radish’s audience is mostly female, which he says perfectly complements the diversification of Kakao Entertainment’s web fiction portfolio in the US market.
“Wuxiaworld is a real gem of a company. Backed by strong word of mouth and an active community, 85% of Wuxiaworld’s total revenue is generated through content purchased through a monthly subscription model. The company continues to grow impressively with annual earnings growth of up to 40% year over year, ”said Global Strategy Officer of Kakao Entertainment and CEO of Radish and Seungyoon Lee, who led the acquisition of Wuxiworld.
Wuxiaworld’s subscription system allows users to read ongoing episodes for free, but all completed episodes are chargeable. It also offers a monthly ad-free subscription model that allows users to read various completed series for free each month, and a novel-specific sponsorship program that allows readers to access the next chapters of ongoing episodes.
Kakao Entertainment’s popular martial arts and fantasy fiction content such as “The Second Coming of Vluttony” and “Overgeared” already make up about 5% of the Wuxiaworld library among the top-selling intellectual property and account for almost a quarter of sales .
“Both companies [Kakao Entertainment and Radish] are committed to creating high quality mobile fiction that forms the basis of their strong leadership in the US and Korea, ”said Lai.
Kakao Entertainment, which owns a number of collections of Korean web fiction, will accelerate its business growth in the English-speaking markets with Radish’s expertise in delivering mobile novels to US consumers and Wuxiaworld’s commitment to excellent translation, the statement said.
“Radish and Kakao Entertainment hopes to continue unlocking the infinite growth potential of Wuxiaworld to reach a new and broader population in the US market,” said Lee.
After the acquisition, Kakao Entertainment now has three storytelling platforms: Radish, Tapas and Wuxiaworld. After launching in Asia and Europe earlier this year, the company plans to continue expanding in international markets over the next year, with the goal of triple its overseas transaction over the next three years. Kakao Entertainment announced last week Launch of the Webtoon service in France already this month.
Kakao Entertainment opened offices in Thailand and Taiwan earlier this year. It also entered Indonesia in 2017 and India in 2020. Sister company Piccoma, formerly known as Kakao Japan, offers web cartoons and novels in Japan.
South Korea’s two largest internet giants, Kakao and Naver, are competing in the storytelling platform market. In May, Naver also completed the acquisition of Wattpad, a Canada-based web novel platform.