The world's oldest newsgathering organization is getting a little help from a young tech startup to bring to life facts and figures for readers.

The Associated Press and Graphiq, which specializes in using artificial intelligence to rapidly create interactive data-driven infographics, announced a new partnership Tuesday. Through the AP, Graphiq will distribute its library of more than 10 billion interactive charts and graphs (the company calls them "visualizations") to the wire service's thousands of news clients around the globe, the two companies told Inc. The partnership, whose financials were not disclosed, will make it easier for the AP to provide data infographics for its stories while exposing Graphiq to a worldwide user audience.

"Today we're reaching hundreds of millions of readers a month, but the AP reaches half the world's population every day," Alex Rosenberg, Graphiq vice president, told Inc. Rosenberg noted that Graphiq will embed some of its staffers in AP newsrooms to be readily available throughout the news outlet's reporting process. "By partnering with them, we're really becoming a part of their reporting cadence and workflow, and we're getting access to a huge uplift in scale," said Rosenberg.

Though it is nearly eight years old, Graphiq remains relatively unknown despite providing visualizations for major media players such as USA Today, Reuters, Forbes, CBS News, and NBC News.

"We span everything from Zika virus to ISIS attacks to thousands of other subjects," said Kevin O'Connor, Graphiq CEO and founder. "Any kind of iteration of information that you want to dissect, we dynamically create visualizations on that on the fly."

Before Graphiq, O'Connor was one of the entrepreneurs behind DoubleClick, the Google-owned network that is used by brands and marketers to purchase and place online ads.

DoubleClick was a resounding success. O'Connor said he sees the same kind of potential for Graphiq. Thus far, Graphiq has raised $32 million over several rounds from various investors, including Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers and Pritzker Group. The company has not disclosed its valuation, but Graphiq is estimated to be worth between $100 million and $150 million, according to Zirra, a startup that uses A.I. tech to analyze the private tech market.

"What we're working on today, people are going to realize it's extraordinarily strategic," O'Connor said. "You can see it happening with the Amazon Echo, Siri, Google Now. Rather than making people think like computers, we're making computers think like people."

Until about a year ago, Graphiq had been known as FindTheBest and it specialized in so-called vertical search engines that could help you find information for any specific subjects of interest, similar to how Yelp shows you results for local shops and how Kayak helps you find travel information.

After more and more reporters began using and embedding FindTheBest's visualizations into their stories, the company was prompted to formally launch a tool for journalists a year ago. The company changed its name to reflect this new strategy, and it also began reaching out to publishers to form partnerships to get its visualizations into more news stories. Among the first outlets Graphiq contacted was the AP.

For the past year, Graphiq has worked with the AP's data team to help provide visualizations for a couple of stories every week, setting the foundation for the partnership, which was announced Tuesday. Now, the two will exponentially scale up the number of AP stories that come with Graphiq visualizations.

The AP will also make Graphiq's entire visualization catalog--the company creates thousands of new visualizations each week--readily available to news wires' countless clients. This will make it easier for newsrooms to include graphics--which typically are time-consuming to create--with stories as news breaks.

"What this means is we can turn [visualizations] around really quickly and deliver them to customers really fast as the story is still developing," said Brian Carovillano, vice president of U.S. news for the AP.

The challenge, however, will be ensuring that Graphiq's visualizations provide the level of accuracy the AP's clients and readers have come to expect. If the company fails to deliver or embarrasses the wire service with corrections or falsehoods, it could turn out to be a major misstep for the small startup.

"AP has pretty strict editorial standards around accuracy," Carovillano said. "We spent quite a bit of time with [Graphiq] just making sure that it met all those standards, and it's been really good."

For now, though, Graphiq is focused on the AP and the vast, worldwide audience to which it has just been introduced. "If we can get a visualization or other media assets into a majority of news stories ... that's important," O'Connor said. "And the AP is a big part of the news."

Published on: Oct 18, 2016