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SoftBank, Kakao Give Radish $63M Series A Boost To Build New Story Content

Serialized fiction app Radish landed $63.2 million in Series A funding, led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and Kakao Page, to tap into Hollywood’s storytelling community.

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The new investment brings Radish’s total funding to more than $68 million, co-founder Seung Yoon Lee told Crunchbase News. The company last raised funds in 2017, including a $3 million seed round, according to Crunchbase data.

The startup will use the new funds to round out its leadership team, hire more writers and data scientists, and get its new Los Angeles office running. Romance is one of the top genres, but Radish would like to expand to horror, mystery and thriller.

“Using a data-driven production, we figure out what you want by testing covers, titles and pilots, and when we figure out what readers engage with, we give that to them fast,” Lee added. “Because we are a content and media company, as much as a tech company, we also want to expand our content library, as well as spend money in marketing and data to distribute to a wider audience.”

What you should know

The mobile fiction platform, based in New York and Seoul, was founded by Lee four years ago to provide bite-sized stories for reading via smartphone. Radish also produces Radish Originals, small, digestible episodes written by Emmy Award-winning soap opera writers, authors and Radish’s content team creators.

“You can think of Radish as an HBO or Netflix for serialized fiction,” Lee said. “The stories are ongoing and are constantly updated. We are focusing on the behavior of binging content, and we take that to an extreme in some ways.”

Readers can access thousands of serials across genres for as little as 20 cents each—or free if they are willing to wait—and connect directly with favorite storytellers in live community chat rooms, while amateur authors can publish their own original stories via user-submitted content.

Radish has opened a new office in Los Angeles in order to hire new talent, build new hit content series based on targeted genres, adapt its original IPs into different forms of multimedia entertainment such as gaming and TV, and focus on scaling performance marketing for U.S. readers.

In terms of growth, the company’s revenue has grown 25 times over the past year, to more than $100,000 daily, and the platform has produced more than 6,500 episodes across 30 original series. Meanwhile, the top Radish series has made more than $4 million in just a few quarters and amassed more than 50 million cumulative reads, according to the company.

What investors are saying

Jin-soo Lee, CEO of Kakao Page, said in a written statement that there is “exciting growth potential of the global mobile fiction market and we will actively source and discover a diverse range of exciting stories together with Radish.”

Meanwhile, JP Lee, CEO and managing partner of SoftBank Ventures Asia, said in a written statement that Radish has shown it can change the way people are consuming content on their phones.

“With its own fast-paced original content production, Radish is best positioned to become a leading player in the global online fiction market,” he added.

Next steps for Radish

Meanwhile, Radish is focused on adding some leadership positions, including a creative director and vice president of content, as well as content, marketing, data scientists and finance experts.

The company has 45 employees now, and Lee expects to have approximately 70 by the end of the year.

“We’ve grown fast in the past year, some of the stories are making $20,000 per day,” Lee said. “We want to accommodate a bigger content library and spend more on marketing, so we want to fill in those leadership roles immediately.”

Illustration: iStock

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