Wikia, the user-generated publishing site started by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, is today announcing a $15 million round of funding to crack into Japan and other Asian markets. As with Wikia’s previous rounds, this Series D comes from a pretty high-profile list of backers. The investment was led by Digital Garage, and includes some of the startup’s existing investors, Amazon, Bessemer Venture Partners and Institutional Venture Partners. The company has not disclosed its valuation (we’re asking) but says that this round doubles it. Wikia has now raised $39.8 million since being founded in 2006.
Wikia may not be on the same level as YouTube when it comes to traffic for user-generated content, but it’s huge nonetheless and has a lot of traction with the long tail of special-interest fans, covering all manner of stuff (Little Mermaid lover? Wikia has you covered).
And its numbers are nothing to sniff at. With a simple navigation and look very reminiscent of its encyclopaedic cousin Wikipedia, Wikia has passed 120 million global unique monthly users and counts some 34 million pages of content — linking to video, games TV, movies, music, comics, anime, books and more — across 200 languages, with 400,000 fan communities.
It’s also been growing at a healthy clip. The company tells me that it’s now passed 1.8 billion pageviews — compared to 1 billion when it announced its last round of funding, at the end of 2012.
As part of the Series D, Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and a board member at Digital Garage, is going to serve as an advisor to Wikia, specifically around its expansion into Japan.
Other strategic investors in this round that are pushing the drive into Asia include Asuka Investments, owned by Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, Chairman of KADOKAWA Corporation – one of Japan’s largest publishers of anime, comic book and video games; Tose – a silent force behind the video game market that has developed thousands of first party games for leading Japanese and global video game publishers; and Suneight – a boutique investment firm that helped Wikia arrange a portion of Japanese investment; and Nobuyuki Idei – the former CEO of Sony that is the founder of Quantum Leaps.
Wikia’s business is built around advertising and syndication partnerships with lots of premium content publishers like Warner Bros., Carbine Studios, IGN, IDG, Roddenberry Entertainment, and Sony. We’ve asked the company for more of an update on how its doing revenue-wise, and we’ll update as we learn more.
While there is already global reach, this latest funding is to really ramp up what goes on in Asia, since the vast majority of revenue today comes from North America and Europe, the company says.
“Because Japan is a culture steeped in fandom and famous for creating video games, anime and comics – many of which anchor some of the largest Japanese and global communities in Wikia – this makes it a very logical and strategic country for Wikia’s global business expansion,” said Craig Palmer, Wikia’s CEO and President, in a statement. “The strategic investors in our Series D Round offer a wide array of media and Japanese business experience that will help us greatly accelerate our success throughout Asia.”