Wattpad announces Dexter Ong as Wattpad Studios’ head of Asia

Wattpad has announced that Dexter Ong will act as its head of Asia for Wattpad Studios, the company’s arm dedicated to developing Wattpad stories into TV shows, movies, books, and digital projects.

In the past, Ong has acted as director of corporate development for 21st Century Fox Asia, where he developed corporate strategies for production and digital video products. Prior to 21st Century Fox, Ong was with CA Media, the Asia arm of The Chernin Group, where he led content development for NET TV.

Ong will oversee Wattpad Studios’ expansion in Asian markets, where he’ll work with local entertainment studios to develop Wattpad-based content.

“Southeast Asia is one of our most important regions globally, with some of our most dedicated and passionate users,” said Aron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios. “Not only have users across the region spent billions of hours on Wattpad, they’ve embraced Wattpad film and TV adaptations, making them into local hits. Dexter’s regional expertise and global perspective are the perfect combination to help us expand our entertainment footprint in Asia.”

“Southeast Asia is one of our most important regions globally, with some of our most dedicated and passionate users.”

Since its $61.25 million funding round in early March, Wattpad has been focused on the Asia market, especially southeast Asia. In an interview with BetaKit, CEO Allen Lau said that Shenzhen-based Tencent and Philippines-based Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures were important investors to help it reach this region. Wattpad has 17 million people from southeast Asia using the platform, out of a reported total of 65 million users.

“For example, we already have a TV show in the Philippines, where we’re on season six. It’s one of the most popular shows for young audiences in the Philippines. We do want to replicate this, across all four regions, pushing our native content written by local people in their local cultures, we can adapt the content from native Wattpad stories to bring those TV shows and movies in that region,” Lau said at the time.

“With so many content options for consumers, entertainment companies need to find stories that people actually want to watch,” said Ong. “With more than 400 million stories from original voices from all over the world and built-in audiences, Wattpad’s data and insights make it possible to uncover the next bingeable series, bestselling book, or blockbuster hit. I’m looking forward to helping Wattpad bring more original stories to market that will captivate audiences in Asia and beyond.”

In addition to Ong’s hire, Wattpad also recently promoted Kelly Steen to Wattpad Studios’ director of business development for the US and Europe, while Ashleigh Gardner was promoted to deputy general manager of Wattpad Studios’ publishing division.

The company plans to add 40 positions in 2018 to support its expanding international entertainment business, as well as work in machine learning and interactive storytelling. The latter has been a key vertical with Wattpad, as offerings like Tap, its chat-based storytelling platform that includes multimedia, prove popular with brands for partnerships, and audiences keen on the format.

Wattpad Studios’ current partners include Universal Cable Productions, eOne, CW Seed, Hachette Romans, and HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Ong will be based in Hong Kong.