The company automating stories for the AP has been purchased, will turn to sports
Automated Insights, the company that has enabled the Associated Press and others to automatically write earnings reports stories, announced Thursday it was acquired for an undisclosed sum.
The buyer is Vista Equity Partners, which in May purchased sports data company STATS LLC. Automated Insights will become a subsidiary of STATS and plans to expand its sports media operations, said CEO Robbie Allen.
"Much like what we did for the AP around earning reports, I think most if not all of sporting events coverage, at least in terms of writing previews of events and recaps, should be automated to some degree," Allen said.
Allen added that some sports previews and recaps might initially be written by software and later augmented by quotes and context from a journalist.
Automated Insights began providing software for The Associated Press to automatically generate earnings reports in June. AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara told Poynter in July that the data-processing software freed up the news cooperative's journalists to do meaningful stories that put the data into context. Last month, Automated Insights reported that the software increased the Associated Press' earnings reports by tenfold and resulted in "far fewer errors" than stories written by journalists.
Automated Insights plans to spend the capital from the acquisition on payroll, Allen said. The company plans to add between 20 to 30 staffers in the next 18 months, mostly in areas of product development and engineering. The company currently has about 35 employees. Allen will stay as CEO and day-to-day operations will remain relatively unchanged.
The Associated Press was among the company's investors in June when Automated Insights raised $5.5 million in Series B funding, Allen said. Although he would not disclose how much the company was purchased for, Allen said the company's previous investors were "happy with their return."
Allen says the company's purchase is an indication that automation is the future for news organizations.
"Just like when the AP invested in us and signed up to do this significant partnership with us last summer, I think the acquisition is further validation of the space in general that is natural language generation and the promise of what is going to deliver in the future."