On the latest episode of The Disruptors, co-host Amber Kanwar sat down with Wattpad CEO Allen Lau to discuss how the company — well-known for its active community of storytellers — is moving into the entertainment industry.
Lau says the company had the idea of turning Wattpad stories into movies and TV shows five years ago, but lacked the necessary scale and resources to do so at the time. About three years ago, Wattpad co-produced a show in the Philippines, and since then, it’s been building partnerships with other production companies across North America.
“If you look at US VCs, it’s very difficult to find those that don’t have any investment in Canada.”
“We have a partnership with Turner, NBC Universal. In spring this year, you are going to see a horror show coming out of TNN,” said Lau. “With NBC Universal, in the second half of the year, we’re going to see a few shows coming out of this partnership.” He added that Wattpad will participate in the revenue streams as co-producer of the shows.
Since its launch, Wattpad has embraced many changes, as it’s been focusing more on monetizing the critical mass of content on its platform, through divisions like Wattpad Brands, which allows brands to connect with users, and Wattpad Studios, which focuses on partnering with the entertainment industry.
When Wattpad celebrated its 10-year milestone, Lau noted that Wattpad’s focus is turning from leveraging its extensive community to becoming a full-stack entertainment company.
In addition to talking about Wattpad’s showbiz plans, Lau also spoke about how Canada’s funding environment has changed. “The funding landscape has changed drastically in the past five years,” said Lau. “I would say in a very positive way. There is much more capital available, and if you look at US VCs, it’s very difficult to find those that don’t have any investment in Canada.”
Watch the full interview below:
BetaKit is a production partner on The Disruptors. Tune in to BNN every Thursday night at 7 p.m. for full episodes!