A.P. is the first major news outlet to strike a deal with Automated Insights, a North Carolina-based company that has developed software to crunch data and generate news stories without human intervention.
This past June, A.P. announced it would begin using Automated Insights’ technology to cover U.S. earnings reports, those exceedingly dry, ultra-fast-turnaround dispatches about revenue and net income that tend to cluster around particular weeks, sapping the time and life force of financial reporters.
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When you read an article or story on the internet do you automatically assume it was written by a human? Reporter Shelley Podolny questions the impact that robo-reporters will have on the news industry and humanity. While algorithms and natural language generators have been around for a while, they’re getting better and faster. Software platforms are now able to make sense of the staggering volume and complexity of the big data we generate, to identify patterns, insights and anomalies. The Associated Press recently tapped Durham-based Automated Insights to automate their public company quarterly financial reports. Using Automated Insights’ Wordsmith platform, the AP has creates more than 3,000 financial reports per quarter.
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Automated Insights announced today that it has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners and STATS to fast-track the adoption of Ai’s natural language generation (NLG) technology across multiple industries including business intelligence, media, sports and beyond. Automated Insights will remain headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, where the company will be a subsidiary of Vista-owned STATS.
“Our entire team is excited to accelerate our growth alongside Vista and STATS,” said Ai CEO Robbie Allen. “Vista immediately understood the value proposition of and opportunities for our solution, and we believe they will be a great partner in helping our team take Ai to the next level. With Vista’s support and experience, we will continue our focus on product development and innovation as well as exploring new frontiers of artificial intelligence. For Automated Insights, this acquisition opens up incredible possibilities.”
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Automated Insights’ recent exit and substantial success is proof of the power of the Triangle’s entrepreneurial network, writes Rick Smith of WRAL.
Success has many parents,” said Steve Hinkson of the Council of Entrepreneurial Development. And AI’s acquisition is proof of this. CEO Robbie Allen has worked extensively with entrepreneurs and VCs in the Triangle to develop his company to the point of acquisition. Leveraging this network, Smith writes, was key to his success.
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Automated Insights’ recent successful exit could draw more VC funding to North Carolina, Lauren K. Ohnesorge of the Triangle Business Journal suggests.
Last Thursday, Automated Insights was acquired by Vista Equity Partners.
AI raised over $10 million in equity from VCs and angels such as Osage Partners, Court Square Ventures, OCA Ventures, IDEA Fund Partners, Associated Press, Revolution Ventures, Box Group, and Samsung Open Innovation.
AI is not alone in its recent victory, however. 2014 also saw the acquisition of both Appia and Digitalsmith – both based in Durham. This sort of success, Ohnesorge posits, could play a significant role in the further development of an already vibrant entrepreneurial community.
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TBJ Staff Writer Lauren Ohnesorge posed a question to the Triangle’s entrepreneurship community: “What Triangle startups should we be watching in 2015?”
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GreatCall, the maker of mobile health and safety products for seniors, and Automated Insights recently announced a partnership to send automated reports to caregivers. Using the data collected by GreatCall devices, Automated Insights will automatically generate weekly recaps of users’ metrics such as activity and location, sending it to caregivers. The recaps are intended to empower seniors to live more safely on their own, while providing better data to caregivers on how their loved ones are doing.
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Innovations Editor, Matt McFarland, takes a look at Automated Insights, the Durham-NC company behind Yahoo’s weekly fantasy football recaps. For the third year, Automated Insights is serving up personalized, head-to-head recaps for each fantasy football player. New this year, Yahoo asked to dial up the snark and humor. “Sports is about having fun and marrying that with your passion, and wanting to win. To us having that tone is an important part of the success,” said Ken Fuchs, VP and Group Lead of Yahoo Sports.
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When Automated Insights announced its partnership with The Associated Press to automate quarterly earnings reports, it created a buzz in the industry. One article covering the announcement warned, “AI Will Replace Human Journalists this Month.” However, Lou Ferra, the AP managing editor overseeing business news, is quick to note that the partnership will not replace a single reporter. “This is about using technology to free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing,” states Ferra. In fact, automated publishing leads to more relevant, personalized news for readers.
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As part of a CNET special report examining the tech-induced economic boom, and backlash, in San Francisco, CNET examines the unique advantages that up-and-coming startup hubs offer. When Cisco Distinguished Engineer Robbie Allen was ready to launch his own startup, he contemplated Silicon Valley, where he’d previously worked with Cisco, and Boston, where he’d received two advanced degrees at MIT. In the end, Allen launched Automated Insights in Durham citing lower salaries and overhead, which eased fundraising pressures, and the quality of life. In June, the Company completed a $5.5M Series B financing and it continues to add to an impressive customer list that includes Yahoo!, Edmunds.com, The Associated Press, Samsung, Microsoft and more.
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