Wattpad: Disruptive, Minimal Viable Publishing


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A presentation given by myself and CEO Allen Lau at TechCrunch Disrupt 2012

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  • Hi, I’m Allen Lau, CEO and co founder of Wattpad.
  • Last month people spent 2.4 billion minutes on Wattpad, putting us in the same ballpark as Pinterest.
  • In the next few minutes, I am going to tell you why Wattpad is disrupting the $100B publishing industry.

    In case you don’t know, Wattpad is the world’s largest community for discovering and sharing stories. When I say stories, I mean sci-fi, poetry, romance stories etc.

    Our company’s mission is simple: we want to completely transform how people share and interact through stories.
  • Here is a “simplified” look at the traditional publishing. I am going to skip the details. But one thing you should know: typically it takes 12-18 months to publish a book. And that’s after the book is written.

    We want to change it, in a net native way ….

  • … like this.

  • On Wattpad, anyone can create a story. Anyone can comment on a story, vote on a story, curate a reading list of stories. Everyone is part of the storytelling experience.

    Storytelling is human nature, across all countries, languages and culture. And we are seeing this not only in the US, but also UK, Spain, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and many countries around the world, and with over 75% of our traffic coming from mobile and that percentage is increasing everyday.

    We have built a very vibrant community that generates as well as consumes. Wattpad is a very emotional social platform.
  • Writers are adding close to 1M stories to Wattpad every month. Penguin published 5000 books last year. Our users published 5000 stories since you had breakfast this morning.
  • Our community is highly interactive. Thousands of interactions every minute.
  • But we are more than just social. We have also enabled a new model of publishing. The traditional publishing model, or even more recently the self-publishing model, only had one way to do things: write, edit, publish.

    This is slow and cumbersome, and requires heavy up front investment. And not net native.
  • Most Wattpad writers choose to publish serially, one chapter at a time.

    This enables MVP, minimum viable publishing. As soon as the first chapter is written, writers can post to Wattpad, and in many cases, other people would jump in, generating feedback, helping out in creating the cover images, video trailer, and in many cases, helping to shape the plot and even write the story together.

  • Like this one, two writers who had never met before are now writing a story together, in real time.
  • Or this one, a reader input story. The writer posted chapter one, and then the reader would write chapter 2 and so on. This is game changing. Traditional publishing or self-publishing can’t do this.
  • And we have just launched another game changer – mobile story writing. The distance between writers and readers is becoming even small.

    Overnight, we’re already seeing 5% of our new stories coming to us this way.
  • Mike has been writing a story while I’ve been talking to you. I know you can all picture this in your head, but we want to demonstrate how frictionless the new model of sharing stories can be.

    Mike presses “publish”

    I get a notification. If I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next chapter in his sci-fi suspense story, I could stop this presentation right now and read it, and tell him what I thought.

    As a reader this is incredibly gratifying. As an author, it’s incredibly empowering.
  • Hiding in the closet, complete the manuscript, and then present to the world is so last decade.
  • This is Jordan. She wrote a few stories on Wattpad. They had been read over 60 million times and received well over 100K comments. Just like YouTube enabled the rise of net native artists like Justin Bieber, Wattpad is enabling a new generation of net native writers.
  • But it is more than just the newer generation. One of the world’s most notable authors Margaret Atwood is a also fan. And she has published a few poems on Wattpad with more to come.
  • Let me wrap this up with an analogy. If we look at the encyclopedia, it was the paper version, Britannica, in the beginning, and then when Microsoft Encarta came out. Everyone thought, ‘Wow, this is the next generation of encyclopedias.’ It was not quite, exactly. Encarta was just the e-version of the old encyclopedia. The back-end process hadn’t changed much. Maybe they added video, but it was just a bridge technology. And then the true net native version called wikipedia came out and wiped out both the encarta and brittannica.
  • It is time to retire what Gutenberg invented 400 years ago, and all the bridge technologies that came along with it, and re-invent the true net native version.
  • Thank you!
  • Wattpad: Disruptive, Minimal Viable Publishing

    1. 1. Feb-11 Aug-11 Feb-12 Aug-12 2.4 BILLION minutes spent every month
    2. 2. we are disrupting the $100 BILLION reading&writing space
    3. 3. writer agent publisher printer distributor retailerwholesaler e-publisher reader
    4. 4. reader writer
    5. 5. 900,000 minutes spent every month 0 500 1000 Aug-11 Feb-12 Aug-12 stories written every month
    6. 6. 125 comments 95 votes 10,400 reads EVERY MINUTE 60 fans & more in forums, etc
    7. 7. high investment long time to market Existing Publishing
    8. 8. low investment instant Minimum Viable Publishing
    9. 9. 1.7 million reads 21,200 votes 6,000 comments Collaborative Writing
    10. 10. 1.4 million reads 3,500 votes 526 comments Reader Centered Writing
    11. 11. Demonstration
    12. 12. yesterday
    13. 13. today 60 million reads 100,000+ comments
    14. 14. “It's actually a pretty pure way of getting readership” – Margaret Atwood
    15. 15. an analogy
    16. 16. an analogy
    17. 17. made in Canada