Tapastic, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based webcomics portal, has received $2 million in Series A funding from Daum Communications, Inc. Daum operates a large and popular webcomics portal in South Korea.
Tapastic was founded in 2012 by Chang Kim, a Korean entrepreneur whose previous company, a Korea-based blogging platform called TNC, was purchased by Google. Kim was working as a product manager on Google’s Blogger property before leaving to found Tapastic.
Tapastic is currently hosting 1,400 different web comics series and a total of 24,000 strips. The vast majority of those series are U.S.-based, with cartoonists opting to host their comic on Tapastic’s platform via their CMS—cartoonists upload their own content in hopes of sharing revenue. The site has been averaging 20% growth each month. As part of the deal with Daum, Tapastic will be translating and hosting some popular Korean comics, with the first strip, the underground fighting saga “Like a Wolf,” launching two weeks ago. Tapastic and Daum are currently discussing which other comics to bring over.
“It’s a great validation that [investor Daum feels the webcomics model] will work internationally,” said Kim. Daum has been successfully running their comics site for 10 years.
While it may sound unusual in publishing circles, Tapastic is following the normal Silicon Valley methodology of perfecting the product and acquiring users before focusing on revenue, or as Kim put it, “we’re not focused on monetization right now.” Currently, the revenue model is advertising driven. Comics creators get a 70% share of ad revenues if they are admitted to the “Prime Time” program. Admission to the program is based on multiple factors including traffic and number of subscribers. Kim reports that Tapastic is currently brainstorming additional revenue models including a freemium model where some installments will be free and others sold.
“Daum Communications has a significant presence in online comics in South Korea, and we see significant growth potential for this form of media to become more popular in the U.S. as well,” said Julie Kim, investment director at Daum.
Kim feels there are a lot of similarities between a webcomics portal and a blogging platform like TNC or Blogger.
“You’re building a platform where content creators can come in and monetize their content,” says Kim, who also cited Tumblr as an example of a platform that has grown its own stars and communities.
The idea of a webcomics portal is not a new one, dating back to the late 1990s with the Big Panda hosting service and the better known Keenspot site that debuted in 2000.