Book 'Em

Digital Publishing Startup Wattpad Raises $17.3M Series B For Social Reading

Old school, meet new school. (flickr.com/friarsbalsam)

Just last week, the publishing industry got the Wall Street Journal treatment for having sidestepped the disruptive effects of digital privacy. But everyone gathered on the far west side for Book Expo America might want to hold off on the high fives, because the Internet isn’t done taking aim at their business. And one Union Square Ventures-backed, Toronto-based upstart, Wattpad, just raised a $17.3 million Series B.

USV joined this latest round, which was led by Khosla Ventures. Other participants include Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang and Toronto’s Golden Venture Partners. The company will use the money for hiring, new features, and community growth.

Wattpad is both publishing platform and social network. It’s a kissing cousin to Amazon’s self-publishing platform, but the concept will feel most familiar to anyone who spent time on early platforms like fanfiction.net–complete with concerns about copyright, by the way, though the company has introduced piracy-fighting features. The modern twist: Over 70 percent of the site’s traffic comes from mobile devices.

Founder Allen Lau insisted to Betabeat that Wattpad doesn’t have any real competitors, and contrasted the company’s model with the traditional publishing process and with more accessible paths like Amazon’s self-publishing platform. “On Wattpad, people [publish] chapter-by-chapter, so for example a lot of people will upload chapter one, then instantly he or she will get feedback,” he said. Then they can upload each successive installment as its written. “It’s a very different interaction environment.” Read More