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Wattpad Acquires, Closes Competing Author Site

redroom-logo[1]Wattpad put the $46 million raised in their latest round of funding to good use last week.

PW reports that Wattpad has acquired a smaller rival writer site called Red Room for an undisclosed sum. In what could well be described as a whirlwind acquisition, Red Room informed members only last week that the site had been bought, and they turned off the servers today (no, seriously.)

Launched in 2008, Red Room was one of a number of sites intended to be a "Facebook for authors". The site was founded by Ivory Madison, a lawyer, entrepreneur, and author. The site grew out of Madison’s previous project, the Red Room Writing School. "One grew out of the other,"” Madison said in 2009. "I wanted something scalable that could serve more people than the school. And I wanted it to be about something I care about—writers and writing."

According to the press release, Madison notes that the acquisition will give Red Room authors access to the 30 million people that visit Wattpad each month. "When I launched Red Room in 2008 I wanted to break down the walls between readers and writers. I’m thrilled Red Room authors have found a new home in a friendly and supportive global community."

I am having trouble finding recent coverage of the site, probably due to the commonality of the name.  We do know that the site had 20,000 members in 2009, and that it had raised around two and a half  million dollars in capital. But what I have found in Google suggests that many members only learned of the deal last week.

I’ll be honest with you: I had never heard of it before. From what I found in the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, the Red Room was far more commercial than Wattpad, and included both a paid premium membership option and a bookstore. Wattpad, on the other hand, is still trying to find a way to fund operations.

Did you use Red Room? How did it compare to, say, Booklikes, Tumblr, or Wattpad?

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Michael July 11, 2014 um 12:43 am

Never heard of Red Room either, but I’m always disappointed when plugs are pulled with little or no warning.

WattPad’s statement, "A full back-up of Red Room is available forever through the Wayback Machine, a public service of the Internet Archive," is optimistic. If another company or individual takes over the domain, then places a very restrictive robots.txt on it, then the entire past archive of will be removed from public access, forever. I’ve seen that happen to a number of bookmarks I had to Wayback Machine pages.

Christopher Cudworth July 18, 2014 um 9:34 am

I used RedRoom 2-3 times a week. Ironically I was considering signing up for their premium membership to begin promoting and upcoming book. The community was interesting if a bit opaque at times. One of my blogs rose up to the Top 10 in viewership, and I re-posted lots of material other social media sites. It was a fun place to write. The interface on Wattpad is quite different. The funny thing about RedRoom is that it did have something of a feel of community. However loose or small that was, it was nice. Sayonara.

Amy Palleson July 18, 2014 um 10:08 am

Case in point: Hi Chris! Still reeling over that post you wrote about your wife’s connection to McCartneys "Baby, I’m Amazed." Youve been on quite a journey and I look forward to seeing your book in print.

Anyways, I was obviously also on Red Room and it was quite a shocking loss when we got that email giving its death-date as only 5 days in the future. What might have happened is for the lawyers and accountants to discuss, however, since it seems clear that the decision to close it was based on Wattpads desire for money and market shares rather than on doing right by the artists who made it a popular, comfortable community. I for one will never be on Wattpad, for many reasons, not the least of which is that I just got burned by an online site I felt committed to; why on earth would I ever make the choice to repeat such an error? Redroom and its stellar community (including editors and owners) might have deserved my loyalty but–from what I’ve heard–Wattpad certainly doesn’t.

Philos September 2, 2014 um 7:30 am

Used Redroom to share poems and a few articles before. I loved reading content by other writers, interacting with them (it always seemed like a great place where small and big writers had time for each other).

And now to Wattpad? Well, that has happened.

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