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Wattpad seeks more PHL partners as it expects user growth

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Entertainment company Wattpad looks to forge more partnerships for the adaptation of its content into other media as it expects an increase in its users in the Philippines.

Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau said they are in talks with a number of partners, including Globe Studios of Globe Telecom, Inc. and HOOQ, for adaptation of its story text into other media, like television and film. In January, Wattpad announced $51 million in funding from Kickstart Ventures Inc., the corporate venture capital arm of Globe; Tencent Holdings Limited; BDC; Peterson Group; and Raine.

“We have very close relationship with Globe, so at the minimum…we are working with Globe Studios and HOOQ,” Mr. Lau said in a media roundtable.

He however said that they are in talks with many other players and not exclusively with Globe. “There are so many players in this market. Despite the fact that Globe invested in us…we are not exclusively working with Globe. There are many players in the market…we are talking to everyone in the market.”

In 2014, Wattpad and TV5 Network Inc. established a deal to adapt Wattpad stories for television. The Wattpad Presents television series produced 250 episodes from 76 Wattpad stories.

Movies turned from Wattpad stories include She’s Dating the Gangster and Diary ng Panget.

With the funding from investors, Wattpad hired Dexter Ong, previously of 21st Century Fox Asia, to oversee a new office in Hong Kong for the company’s expansion in Asia, and for the adaptation of content to other media by Wattpad Studios with partners.

Wattpad operates the flagship Wattpad app, as well as Tap by Wattpad. Wattpad said it has around seven million monthly users in the Philippines, its second biggest market, only second to the United States. Wattpad has 65 million users globally, with 17 million in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Lau said he expects that the audience in the Philippines will increase in the coming years, with the takeup of phones and use of Internet, as well as the adaptation of Wattpad content into other media.

“Pretty much everyone will have access to data, or at least WiFi if without data, …I believe that alone will help increase our user base,” Mr. Lau said.

He said that the adaptation of Wattpad stories into film or web series will “create a halo effect.”

“As we see content, not just textual content, but content in other formats, it will create a halo effect.

The movie would bring people to read a Wattpad stories, that in turn will drive popularity of other stories, and more stories will be adapted.”

Wattpad is based in Toronto, Canada. Kickstart Ventures is a Globe subsidiary, backed by Ayala Corp. and SingTel. — Patrizia C. Marcelo