Social Publisher Wattpad Raises $17.3M From Khosla, Jerry Yang, Others

Who says reading is dead? It’s certainly doing just fine for social publishing startup Wattpad, which just raised a $17.3 million Series B.

The funding was led by Khosla Ventures, with Khosla’s Andrew Chung joining the Wattpad board. (In the press release, Chung says the publishing industry has being transformed by mobile and social technology, making it “ripe for digital-native disruption.”) Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang also invested. The startup previously raised a $3.5 million Series A. Previous backers Union Square Ventures and Golden Venture Partners participated in the new round.

On Wattpad, writers can share their novels for free, a chapter at a time, interacting with readers and even taking feedback that shapes the story.

In February, I wrote about the startup’s impressive stats, like the fact that users were collectively spending 1 billion minutes per month on the site. In the four months since, it looks like Wattpad’s growth has, if anything, accelerated. Users are now uploading 500,000 new stories per month, with 5 million already on the site. It claims to have more than 8 million monthly visitors, who now spend 1.7 billion minutes per month on Wattpad. And more than 70 percent of that usage is mobile.

In a blog post announcing the funding, co-founder and CEO Allen Lau outlines some of his bigger vision:

We don’t determine who or what gets published – again, it’s about the network instead of the traditional hierarchy. So, while Wattpad sometimes gets pegged as operating within the traditional publishing industry we are not a publisher. We don’t see ourselves playing in this space at all. Wattpad is actually creating a completely new digital entertainment category, one that hasn’t existed before.

Here’s my favourite example: a traditional publishing house like Penguin published 5000 books in the last 12 months, while Wattpad users uploaded 10,000 stories in just the last 12 hours! We have something for everyone – every sub-genre and every specialized interest. The diversity of human creativity is what makes Wattpad so great.