If your literary tastes run toward lesbian hockey romances, zombie shark mysteries, or futuristic werewolf dramas, Wattpad has a title for you. The digital platform directs its 80 million monthly readers to stories from its 4 million self-published authors with help from machine learning, which categorizes all this content. The company tapped these insights last year to launch the Wattpad Books imprint and publish its first print titles, including teen drama I’m a Gay Wizard and Afrofuturist romance Given. Cofounder and CEO Allen Lau credits Wattpad readers with helping to surface “stories that you wouldn’t see in traditional systems.” A similar approach powers Wattpad Studios, the company’s film and television arm, which produced After, one of 2019’s highest-grossing indie films. It has about 40 more projects in development.
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A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.