Exit Stories: Robbie Allen Speaks Out On Automated Insights’ Acquisition

Image By Jackie Sizing

Robbie Allen is a well-known Triangle serial entrepreneur. The biggest feather in his cap was launching StatSheet, which transformed sports data into written content, before the company inevitably expanded into non-sports content and rebranded as Automated Insights. (Robbie has been a frequent GrepBeat presence, including as the subject of this 2019 Q&A and as the host of the GrepBeat podcast For Starters.)

Upon raising a Series B round, AI was acquired for $80 million by Vista Equity Partners in 2015.

On the fourth episode of Season Three of Exit Stories, Allen chatted with host Kevin Mosley on his path to the exit with Automated Insights and much more.

Here are some highlights from the episode:

  • Allen finished his Master’s degree at MIT and had no idea what he wanted to do. But he knew he was passionate about three things: web programming, data and UNC basketball. That venn diagram sparked what ultimately became StatSheet. (1:34)
  • Stemming from StatSheet, in what Allen calls “the early days of automated content,” he created algorithms based on data that would generate sentences to describe it in narrative form. This process was the genesis behind Automated Insights. But Allen still had to take the leap (and massive risk) of leaving a “cushy Cisco job” to trailblaze his way through startup life. (4:49)
  • Bringing Yahoo and the Associated Press onboard as clients ramped up Automated Insights’ path into non-sports-related content, which ultimately attracted Vista Equity Partners. But it also brought a slew of criticism for any small error in content like automated earnings reports. (20:29)
  • Allen has now joined the Triangle Tweener Fund as a General Partner alongside Spiffy CEO Scot Wingo. The Tweener Fund has already invested in more than 20 middle-stage tech startups located in the Triangle. (51:22)

Listen to the full episode below, and be sure to subscribe so you’re notified about every new episode.

About Suzanne Blake 362 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. Before working at GrepBeat, Suzanne attended UNC Chapel Hill, obtaining a degree in journalism and political science. Previously, she wrote for CNBC, QSR Magazine, FSR Magazine and The Daily Tar Heel.