Companies & Industries

Toronto’s Wattpad, the ‘YouTube of eBooks’, scores $46 million in funding

Just the latest in a series of big cash injections in Canadian tech


More good news for Canada’s tech sector: Toronto-based Wattpad, often described as the YouTube of eBooks, announced this morning that it has raised $46 million in Series C funding. Unsurprisingly, the round of was led by Canada’s OMERS Ventures, which has been investing heavily in Canada’s up-and-coming tech stars over the last couple years.

READ: A Q&A with Kent Thexton of OMERS Ventures on how to build Canada’s next RIM>>

Indeed, Vancouver’s HootSuite scored a record-setting $165 million in venture capital last year, followed by another impressive $100 million going to Ottawa-based e-commerce firm Shopify—numbers previously almost unheard of in Canada. By comparison, $46 million may not sound impressive, but it is in fact still an uncharacteristically generous round for a Canadian company. More importantly, it continues a positive trend of Canadian tech companies finally scoring serious growth capital. Last year, VC spending in Canada shot up an astronomical 30%.

READ: Three Canadian provinces now attract more venture capital than all but 6 states>>

As for Wattpad, the money will go toward hiring new staff and moving to a bigger downtown office. CEO Allen Lau said in a press release that his website has grown 200% over the last year—quite a feat considering the site launched in 2006.

So, why’s Wattpad so popular? First of all, it’s free. Users share and read each other’s writing at no cost, whether on laptops, tablets or smartphones. More importantly, however, readers provide feedback to writers, creating a community of support. It differs from self-publishing in this respect; it’s more about the writing process, as writers often post one chapter at a time. And the numbers are impressive: Each month, about 25 million people from all over the world visit Wattpad.

Oh, and Margaret Atwood is a big fan.