Narrative Science

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Narrative Science
FoundedJanuary 2010 (2010-01)
  • Larry Birnbaum
  • Stuart Frankel
  • Kris Hammond
United States
  • Lexio


Narrative Science is a technology company based in Chicago, Illinois that specializes in data storytelling. The company has two data storytelling products, Quill and Lexio, which aim to help businesses understand their data and the story behind it.


Narrative Science was founded in 2010 in Evanston, Illinois, after a student project in the Intelligent Information Lab at Northwestern University jump started the NLG technology. [1] The first prototype of the company technology went by the project name StatsMonkey and was developed in the laboratory by Kris Hammond, Larry Birnbaum, Nick Allen and John Templon.[1] StatsMonkey was created to disrupt the journalism industry by allowing stories based in data, specifically baseball stories at the beginning, to be written automatically by StatsMonkey. These baseball stories would include recaps based on game data like players, win probability and game score.[2] Narrative Science licensed StatsMonkey and the related intellectual property from Northwestern and began commercial operations in early 2010.[3] Afterwards the company decided to change direction, they no longer focused on the journalistic capabilities of their technology and focused on how the same technology could be used in the business world. This led to the development of a Natural Language Generation platform called Quill, which analyzes structured data and automatically generates intelligent narratives for business users who are not data fluent.[4] Narrative Science has several investors, including SAP Ventures and In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.[5] In 2014, the Chicago company raised another $10 million in equity financing, led by customer USAA, for a total of $32 million raised since the company’s inception.[6] In 2020, Narrative Science launched Data Storytelling for Good, their non-profit branch which provides their products for free to organizations doing good in their community.



Lexio is a language-based augmented analytics product that turns business data into interactive plain-English stories.[citation needed] Lexio integrates with many data sources companies use daily, including Salesforce, Google Analytics, Marketo and many others, to provide actionable insights for those with limited data analytics abilities.


Quill is an intelligent automation platform that allows enterprise organizations to change how they do internal and external reporting by using natural language generation. Utilizing artificial intelligence, Quill's platform creates custom NLG applications that mimic the logic, language, analytics, and formatting of reports that typically require an analyst to create. Enterprise organizations across finance, compliance, risk, analytics and more, use Quill to automate high-volume and time-consuming reporting workflows. Quill also adds a story to the typical corporate dashboard. Quill digests data and writes a quick couple of paragraphs to explain what is happening in the graphs and charts it neighbors.

Out-of-the-box extensions with Tableau, Qlik, and PowerBI embed plain-English commentary in dashboards to help tell a story with data.  Additionally, partnerships with MicroStrategy and Sisense integrate NLG directly in their software.


In 2017, Fortune listed Narrative Science as one of the 50 companies leading the artificial intelligence revolution.[7] In 2015, CNBC named Narrative Science to their Disruptor 50 list.[8]

Gartner named Narrative Science as one of the “Cool Vendors in Smart Machines” in 2014.[9]

In 2013, the company was named to the Red Herring Top 100 for North America,[10] which highlights promising startups in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Narrative Science won a 2013 Edison Award for Innovative Services in Collaboration and Knowledge Management.[11]

In 2018, Narrative Science was part of the World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers.[12]

In 2018, Narrative Science won Crain's Most Innovative Company.[13]


According to Gartner's 2019 "Market Guide for NLG", the main NLG companies are (in alphabetical order): Arria NLG, Automated Insights, AX Semantics, Narrative Science, vPhrase and Yseop.[14] Other similar companies in the area of natural language generation include Smartologic, Retresco, United Robots and Linguastat.


The company received some early criticism from journalists speculating that Narrative Science was attempting to eliminate the jobs of writers, particularly in sports and finance.[15][16][17][18] Critics also argue that biases and assumptions in original data sets can lead to reinforced bias in the stories generated by natural language processors,[19] such as Narrative Science. [19] A CBS article compared artificially generated journalism in the financial sector to the property market bubble, as it leads to “everyone making investments in the same way for the same reasons”.[19] The article claimed that computer-generated narratives have the “potential to amplify biases and assumptions, but at far greater speed and on a far wider scale than anything written by humans.”[19]

An article from the Columbia Journalism School also criticized the limitations of “robo-journalism” software, as “it can’t assess the damage on the ground, can’t interview experts, and can’t discern the relative newsworthiness of various aspects of the story” and therefore, lacks a necessary human element.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Stats Monkey". Intelligent Information Laboratory. Northwestern University. Archived from the original on 16 November 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Program Creates Computer-Generated Sports Stories". NPR. NPR. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  3. ^ Bachman, Justin. "Are Sportswriters Really Necessary?". Business Week. Business Week. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  4. ^ Woodie, Alex. "Your Big Data Will Read to you Now". Datanami. Tabor Publications. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  5. ^ Diakopoulos, Nicholas. "Automated Stories: Using Algorithms to Craft News Content". Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Columbia Journalism School. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  6. ^ Pletz, John. "Narrative Science gets $11.5 million to write next chapter". Crain's Chicago Business. Crain's. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  7. ^ Rapp, Brian O'Keefe, Nicolas. "50 Companies Leading the Artificial Intelligence Revolution". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  8. ^ staff, CNBC com (2015-05-12). "Narrative Science 2015 Disruptor 50". Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  9. ^ Austin, Tom; Linden, Alexander; Rozwell, Carol; Brant, Kenneth; Ghubril, Adib; Anurag, Gupta. "Cool Vendors in Smart Machines, 2014". Gartner. Gartner, Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  10. ^ "2013 Top 100 North America: Winners". Red Herring. Red Herring, Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  11. ^ "2013 Edison Award Winners". Edison Awards. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Introducing the Technology Pioneers Cohort of 2018". Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  13. ^ "Meet Chicago's Most innovative companies in 2018". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  14. ^ "Market Guide for Natural Language Generation Platforms". Gartner. Retrieved 2020-02-07.
  15. ^ Clark, Patrick. "Can an Algorithm Replace Stock Analysts?". Business Week. Business Week. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  16. ^ Levy, Steven. "Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story Than a Human Reporter?". Wired. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  17. ^ Fassler, Joe. "Can the Computers at Narrative Science Replace Paid Writers?". The Atlantic. The Atlantic. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  18. ^ Hamburger, Ellis. "Robo-journalists are already writing the next generation of news stories". The Verge. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  19. ^ a b c d Hefferman, Margaret. "The post was written by a human". CBS News. CBS. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  20. ^ Howard, Alexander. "The Art and Science of Data-Driven Journalism" (PDF). Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Columbia Journalism School. Retrieved 6 June 2014.