Mark this down as another win for the automation and artificial intelligence movements.
Automated Insights, an eight-year-old start-up that’s drawn attention for its powerful natural language generating platform, has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners, which owns Stats, LLC. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
You may known Automated Insights as the guys who have “robots” writing stories. But there are zero actual robots at the Durham, N.C. start-up’s offices, just powerful software that reduces a glut of data to a polished story that looks like something you or I might have written.
Automated Insights now has a natural partner for its services in Stats, a global leader in collecting sports data. Stats plans to marry its bottomless pit of data with Automated Insights’ algorithms to produce more content for clients. Walrath estimates that right now Stats creates editorial content for only 15 percent of sports it gathers data on.
“Imagination is really the only limitation,” Stats chief executive Gary Walrath told me. “With the technology of artificial intelligence you’ll be covering things in ways you didn’t think of before. I think there is probably a lot of applicability for this and other areas that are going to surprise us after we do the obvious, low-hanging fruit.”
The obvious uses include narrative reports for college and minor league sports. Walrath also envisions mining Stats’ wealth of historical data to produce stories and content for sports fans.
Walrath foresees eventually delivering personalized stories to sports fans, just as Google or Amazon results are tailored to each user.
“Maybe you like to receive a dry way of being told what happened, just the facts. Or maybe you would prefer something with attitude,” Walrath said.
Automated Insights chief executive Robbie Allen described SportsVU — Stats technology that tracks the coordinates of players during games — as a prime target for his company’s talents. SportsVU provides a firehouse of raw data, but all that information needs boiled down into something the average fan would find helpful. That’s were Allen’s algorithms come in.
Automated Insights has a 35-person staff, but Allen says it could add 20-30 more people in the next 12 to 18 months.