RIDI, a South Korean ebook and webcomic provider, raised $ 99.4 million at a valuation of $ 1.3 billion in a funding round led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC. The company is the first Korean content platform startup to win the unicorn status.

Other major investors include Nvestor, the existing investor Korea Development Bank, and Dunam’s investor Atinum Investment, which operates the Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit. RIDI’s cumulative funding has now reached $ 159.4 million.

RIDI says it will use the proceeds to strengthen its global expansion, invest in original content, and develop a “content value chain” with an estimated 111,000 creators at present.

The company launched its electronic comic subscription service “Manta” in the United States in August last year, and is reportedly considering listing in the United States within the year.

Founded in 2008, RIDI has grown to become one of Korea’s largest digital content companies, offering ebooks such as novels and web comics, as well as videos and news. The company also owns Laftel, an anime distribution service, and Ridibooks, an ebook retail service.

The popularity of electronic comics, also known as Webtoons, increased significantly during the pandemic in South Korea. According to government data released in December, the total sales of South Korea’s webtoon industry in 2020 exceeded $ 840 million.

Korean e-comic providers are focusing on expanding overseas. Kakao Entertainment acquired US-based mobile comic platform Tapas for $ 510 million last May. In addition, Webtoon Entertainment, a subsidiary of Neighbor, is targeting the American market through collaborations with DC Comics and Archie in the United States.

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