In the last two hours, major webtoon publisher Tapas Media, has informed its employees of a number of imminent layoffs in editorial at the publisher.
Last year, Korean online giant Kakao Entertainment signed agreements to acquire two American storytelling platforms, Tapas Media, Inc and Radish Media, Inc. The acquisitions are intended to pave the way for Kakao Entertainment to expand its original content business in North America and other English-speaking regions. Tapas is known for its mobile comic book content and webtoons and has been valued at $150 million. Radish Media, mobile fiction platform and app has been valued at $440 million. Kakao Entertainment became a significant stakeholder of Tapas the year before that and had since been distributing webtoons, such as A Business Proposal, Space Sweepers, The Uncanny Counter, and Navillera through the Tapas platform, which saw sales increase five times last year. They recently hired former DC Comics Executive Editor Michele R. Wells as Chief Content Officer and previously employed Jamie S Rich as EIC.
Changes have been underfoot in recent days, however. Kakao has been merging some operations between Radish, Tapas, and Wuxiaworld to increase efficiency and reduce redundancy. But that means an increase in redundancies. It is estimated there have already been layoffs of around 30% of the current company, as well as the departure of the CFO, CCO, Head of Publicity, and other high-ranking executives last month, mostly from Radish, but now there are more firings to come. When Bleeding Cool contacted Tapas last night, we were asked to hold any such story while they contacted staffers to give them the news directly first, including significant numbers at the Tapas editorial side. That meeting was scheduled to start two hours ago, addressed by Tapas CEO Chang Kim
Bleeding Cool understands that Chang Kim has been elevated to a more senior position at the company on the Kakao side. And that Won Choi, a new COO for Tapas has being installed to more directly run that side of the publisher, from a financial point of view, and on an equal level with Michele R Wells. As a result, budgets have been reduced, and more creative solutions are being dismissed as too risky and unproven. And now there are redundancies. Tapas, just like Substack, Netflix, Amazon and other such streaming services are going through a numbers crunch, in an increasingly divided competitive market that hasn't had a shakeout yet. There are likely to be more.