As tech giants look at moving into the digital comic space, WEBTOON’s CEO is confident that his company has what it takes to emerge victorious — even when he’s facing off against the likes of Apple and Amazon.
Recently, Amazon Japan has recently launched its own vertical scroll comic format called Fliptoon, while Apple Japan has also unveiled a vertical reading manga page in its Apple Books store complete with exclusive content — both signs that growth in the vertical scroll comic space has been noticed outside of fandom. WEBTOON Entertainment CEO Kim Junkoo isn’t worried about the competition, however. If anything, it seems like he’s looking forward to it.
"To build a [webtoon] store, you need knowledge about serial services, user targeting, a fitting business model, educating users… This takes time. But even if you put in time, you can't recreate the creator economy we've built,” he told Reuters in a recent report.
Certainly, Webtoon has both a creator and audience base to be jealous of; globally, it reached 85.6 million users as of the second quarter of 2022, with approximately 80% of them under 30 years old — and somewhere in the region of 900,000 creators on the platform as of January 2023. Additionally, the company has access to specific metrics about who is reading, and where.
"In the past, if an intellectual property sold $10 million, you'd be like, 'let's make a movie'," Junkoo explained. “Now, if we have an IP that sold $10 million, we have data showing who saw it, which generation saw it, in what pattern, in which countries, so on."
All of this adds up to an upstart company that won’t just take on the big companies, but beat them. Or, at he put it, "If big tech is serious about this IP-creating business, they'd have to buy us out.”
WEBTOON’s US VP of Content, David Lee talked to Popverse about the future of the company earlier this year.