Tapas revenue increased ten-fold in 2020. Radish revenue increased fivefold in 2020.

Less than a month after it emerged the South Korean media giant Kakao was moving on the US-based online reading app Radish –

comes news Kakao is also buying out Radish rival Tapas.

The press release, dated May 11, informs us that Kakao on May 7 signed “definitive agreements” to acquire both Radish and Tapas.

Temporary local conditions (here in The Gambia) prevent me giving this story the full attention it deserves today, so this post will be more press release quotes than context and analysis, but see links at the bottom of this post for past discussion of the exciting potential of the global online-reading market, which is quite separate from the à la carte retail ebook market, the digital library markets and the digital book subscription markets we in the west are more familiar with.

Per Kakao:

The acquisitions pave the way for Kakao Entertainment to expand its original content business in North America and other English-speaking regions. The company has already secured a dominant market share in Japan through its affiliate comic platform Piccoma.

That’s not the limit of Kakao’s interest in the global reading market.

Kakao Entertainment has invested approximately KRW 1.5 trillion ($1.3 billion) on IP, mainly in Korea, but increasingly beyond. As well as being in Korea, Japan and now North America (for which read US and Canada) Kakao will launch its webtoons platform in Thailand and Taiwan in June and has plans for launches in China and India in the latter half of 2021.

the two acquisitions in the North America market means Kakao goes head to head with Tencent’s China Literature and also head to head with the yet-to-launch Kindle Vella from Amazon.

Kakao is spending $510 million to acquire Tapas, which it describes as:

a pioneer of mobile storytelling platforms in the US, with a solid leadership in webtoons.

Kakao will additionally spend a further $440 million on Radish. The press release explains that Kakao,

Became a significant stakeholder of Tapas last November and has since been distributing the company’s blockbuster webtoons, such as A Business Proposal, Space Sweepers, The Uncanny Counter, and Navillera through the Tapas platform. This has led to exponential growth at Tapas, with sales increasing fivefold in 2020.

Tapas, the press release goes on, is a,

Magnet for webtoon fans and content creators, alike. Through community side of the platform, namely Tapestry, Tapas works with creators to help nurture future webtoon IP development in the U.S. A prime success story is The Beginning After the End, a Tapas original webtoon exported to multiple content platforms in Korea and Japan.

About Radish, the Kakao press release notes:

A key source of Radish’s competitive edge is its Radish Original series, an in-house program that takes a collaborative and data-driven approach to create serialized web novel IPs. Radish Original series currently comprise more than 90% of the company’s revenue, with Radish’s sales increasing tenfold in 2020.

Check out the press release in detail for the usual mutual admiration quotes.

Recent online reading coverage from TNPS: