Automated Insights

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Automated Insights
  • Robbie Allen
United States
Key people
  • Robbie Allen (Executive Chairman)
  • Marc Zionts (CEO)
  • Adam B. Smith (COO)
  • Wordsmith
  • Wordsmith for Marketing
ParentVista Equity Partners

Automated Insights ("Ai") is an American-based technology company that specializes in natural language generation (NLG) software that turns big data into readable narratives.[1]

Automated Insights produced 300 million pieces of content in 2013, which Mashable reported was greater than the output of all major media companies combined.[2] In 2014, the company's software generated one billion stories.[3] In 2016, Automated Insights produced over 1.5 billion pieces of content.[4]

In October 2015, Automated Insights released their Wordsmith software for beta testing to allow organizations access to natural language generation technology as a SaaS offering.[5] The company has since commercialized the natural language generation platform called Wordsmith, with customers including Yahoo, Associated Press, and Tableau.


The company was founded by Robbie Allen while he was a full-time engineer at Cisco Systems.[6] Formerly known as StatSheet, the company changed its name to Automated Insights in 2011 to mark its expansion into content generation for industries outside of sports.[7]

Automated Insights was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in February 2015, but remains independent.[8]

Natural Language Generation[edit]

Automated Insights provides natural language generation (NLG) technology in the form of their Wordsmith platform. Natural language generation is a software process that automatically turns data into human-friendly prose. Normally, structured data is fed into NLG software and run through a narrative template, producing content that reads as if a human writer created it. The technology is used mostly in instances that require a routine, large-scale production of content in which each narrative is similarly structured. Some proven uses of natural language generation include the following types of content:

  • product descriptions from inventory data
  • business intelligence dashboard text explanations[9]
  • customer communications that require personalization
  • real estate market property descriptions
  • corporate earnings reports[10]



Wordsmith is Ai's platform for natural language generation.[11] It is "an artificial intelligence system that uses mounds of data, quantitative analysis and some rules about style and good writing" to produce stories.[12] Wordsmith is sold as both a direct product and service to clients. In October 2015, the Wordsmith platform was updated to allow users to create their own narratives through online software. Software users upload their own data and create templates for writing narratives.[13][14]

Wordsmith has been described as a "a sort of personal data scientist, sifting through reams of data that might otherwise go un-analyzed and creating custom reports that often have an audience of one."[15] The service works by ingesting structured data, analyzing it for insights, and then writing out those insights in human-friendly prose.[15]

Notable Work[edit]

Associated Press[edit]

In June 2014, The Associated Press announced it would use automation technology from Automated Insights to produce most of its U.S. corporate earnings stories. AP said automation would boost its output of quarterly earnings stories nearly fifteen-fold, further noting that the technology would "free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing."[16] The Associated Press is the first newsroom to have an automation editor to oversee automated articles.[17] Use of the Automated Insights software increased the Associated Press coverage of corporate earnings stories by over tenfold.[18] A study by researchers at Stanford and the University of Washington found that Automated Insights’ technology has had an effect on the stock market, as firms that received little attention from traders now see significant increases in trade volume and liquidity.[19]

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah aired a segment on the AP's use of automation on October 7, 2015.[20]


Automated Insights (Ai) generates personalized recaps and previews for Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football.[21]

Partnerships and Integrations[edit]

As of June 2017, Automated Insights partnerships and integrations include Amazon Alexa,[22] Tableau, TIBCO Spotfire, MicroStrategy, Zapier, Microsoft Excel, and Google Sheets.[23]


Other Automated Insights work includes automation of marketing reports with the company's Wordsmith for Marketing tool and content generated for Comcast,,[24] GreatCall, DigitalSTROM, and


  • Ai received significant media attention following the announcement that it would automate AP earnings stories. TechCrunch reporter Alex Wilhelm said he was "downright excited about the development," noting that "[e]arnings season makes most reporters want to poke their eyes out with sharp objects."[25] Kevin Roose of New York Magazine called automated reporting "the best thing to happen to journalists in a long time."[26]
  • In 2015, the Wordsmith platform raced an NPR reporter to produce a corporate earnings story.[27]
  • The Triangle Business Journal named Automated Insights one of the Best Places to Work in the Triangle in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.[28][29][30][31]
  • In 2013, the company received a Most Innovative Internet/New Media Company from the North Carolina Technology Association.[32] In 2014, the North Carolina Technology Association presented Ai its "New Media/Digital Company" award.[33]
  • As one of ten presenters at the first ever Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day, the company received a $100,000 investment commitment from AOL co-founder Steve Case.[34]
  • In 2015, the company was acquired by Vista Equity Partners.[35]


Competing companies in the Natural Language Generation industry include Yseop, Inc, a multinational software company headquartered in Dallas, Texas.[36] and Narrative Science, an American-based computer software company based in Chicago.[37] Other similar companies in the area of Natural language generation include Arria NLG[36], Retresco, and Linguastat.[36]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Harrison, J.D. "Steve Case makes a spur-of-the-moment million-dollar investment in 10 start-ups". Washington Post.
  2. ^ Ulanoff, Lance. "Need to Write 5 Million Stories a Week? Robot Reporters to the Rescue". Mashable.
  3. ^ Podolny, Shelley. "If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Even Know?". New York Times.
  4. ^ "Natural Language Generation | Wordsmith - Automated Insights, Inc". Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  5. ^ "The company behind the AP's 'robot journalists' is opening up its technology for everyone". The Verge. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  6. ^ Ranii, David. "Sports stats aren't just a hobby now". News & Observer.
  7. ^ Wauters, Robin. "StatSheet Changes Name To Automated Insights, Scores $4 Million". TechCrunch.
  8. ^ Lunden, Ingrid. "Vista Acquires Automated Insights, The Startup Behind The AP's "Robot" News Writing". TechCrunch.
  9. ^ "Bringing the power of natural language to Tableau". Tableau Software. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  10. ^ "Want to bring automation to your newsroom? A new AP report details best practices". Nieman Lab. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  11. ^ "Natural Language Generators Automated Insights Get Acquired by Vista Equity". Dataconomy. 2015-06-15.
  12. ^ Ulanoff, Lance (2014-07-01). "Need to Write 5 Million Stories a Week? Robot Reporters to the Rescue". Mashable.
  13. ^ "Wordsmith's 'robot journalist' is now available to the public (Wired UK)". Wired UK. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  14. ^ "With new product, Automated Insights hopes to make 'robot journalism' cheaper and more plentiful | Poynter". Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  15. ^ a b Finley, Klint (2015-03-16). "In the Future, Robots Will Write News That's All About You". Wired.
  16. ^ Colford, Paul. "A leap forward in quarterly earnings stories". The Definitive Source. The Associated Press.
  17. ^ "How The Associated Press is using automation to rethink the way it does news | Poynter". Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  18. ^ "AP Definitive Source | Automated earnings stories multiply". Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  19. ^ Blankespoor, Elizabeth; deHaan, Ed; Zhu, Christina (2017-05-10). "Capital Market Effects of Media Synthesis and Dissemination: Evidence from Robo-Journalism". Rochester, NY.
  20. ^ "Robot Journalists". Comedy Central. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  21. ^ Eule, Alexander. "Big Data and Yahoo's Quest for Mass Personalization". Barron's.
  22. ^ "Automated Insights' Wordsmith and Amazon Alexa Host Conversational Language Hackathon". PRWeb. Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  23. ^ "Natural Language Generation | Wordsmith Integrations and Partners - Automated Insights, Inc". Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  24. ^ Ranii, David. "Durham's Automated Insights acquired". News and Observer.
  25. ^ Wilhelm, Alex. "Bring On The Blogging Robots". TechCrunch.
  26. ^ Roose, Kevin. "Robots Are Invading the News Business, and It's Great for Journalists". New York Magazine.
  27. ^ Smith, Stacey Vanek. "An NPR Reporter Raced A Machine To Write A News Story. Who Won?". NPR.
  28. ^ Baysden, Chris. "TBJ unveils 2012 best places to work". Triangle Business Journal.
  29. ^ Snipes, Cameron. "TBJ reveals 2013 Best Places to Work". Triangle Business Journal.
  30. ^ Snipes, Cameron. "TBJ reveals 2014 Best Places to Work". Triangle Business Journal.
  31. ^ Snipes, Cameron. "2015 Best Places to Work". Triangle Business Journal.
  32. ^ "21 Awards Winners". North Carolina Technology Association.
  33. ^ "2014 NC Tech Award Winners".
  34. ^ Clifford, Catherine. "This Billionaire Just Gave 10 Startups $100,000 Each on a Whim". Entrepreneur.
  35. ^ "A startup that uses robots to write news gets acquired for $80 million in cash". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  36. ^ a b c Woods, Dan. "Why You Should Hire A Robot To Write For You".
  37. ^ Pletz, John. "Narrative Science gets $11.5 million to write next chapter". Crain's Chicago Business. Crain's. Retrieved 6 June 2014.