The acquisition was handled through Radish Media, a New York-based Kakao subsidiary that pitches itself as a mobile fiction platform for serialized storytelling. Deal terms were not disclosed.
Wuxiaworld boasts millions of page views per day from users in over 100 countries. It claims to be the most used platform of its kind in the U.S.
It was founded by Lai Jingping, a former American diplomat who started translating Chinese martial arts fiction into English. Lai is expected to stay on and continue to run the unit, albeit leaning on Kakao corporate and technological strengths. As a part of a larger group, Wuxiaworld will also have greater access to Kakao Entertainment IPs and be able to expand the Korean web fiction offerings.
Wuxiaworld previously grew organically through the efforts of like-minded fans of Asian fantasy fiction. They have now collectively translated over a hundred thousand chapters of Chinese and Korean fiction into English.
Radish says that it was interested by Wuxiaworld due to its unique market position. It is the world’s only premium serial fiction player with a majority male audience. That makes it complementary to Kakao’s other web fiction activities and to Radish’s own primarily female-skewing audience.
Additionally, Wuxiaworld’s readers have a strong appetite for Kakao Entertainment’s martial arts and fantasy fiction works. Korean content such as “The Second Coming of Gluttony” and “Overgeared” make up approximately 5% of the Wuxiaworld library, but are among its top grossing IPs, driving almost a quarter of its revenue.
“Wuxiaworld is a truly gem of a company. Supported by strong word-of-mouth and an active community, 85% of Wuxiaworld’s total revenue comes through content purchased by a monthly subscription model. The company continues to grow impressively, with annual year-over-year profit growth of up to 40%,” said Lee Seungyoon, founder and CEO of Radish and global strategy officer of Kakao Entertainment. “With this acquisition, Radish and Kakao Entertainment hopes to further realize Wuxiaworld’s infinite growth potential to reach a new and wider demographic in the U.S. market.”
Following the acquisition, Kakao Entertainment now has three business platforms in the U.S. market under its story division: Radish, Tapas and Wuxiaworld.
Kakao Entertainment said that the move is part of the company’s overall strategy to expand its story business globally, from its current bases in Asia and into Europe into North America and ASEAN in 2022. Its target is to triple its transactions from overseas markets in the next three years.