Deals to license its vast news archive to train artificial intelligence tools helped drive up fourth quarter revenue for Thomson Reuters Corp, the company said Thursday.
The Toronto-based news and information service reported that revenue in its Reuters News division leaped 10% to $220 million, “driven primarily by Generative AI related content licensing revenue that was largely transactional in nature.”
The company did not specify which company developing AI tools it has inked a licensing deal for its its content with, and did not share financial details of the arrangement.
Thomson Reuters has also developed its own AI-backed projects, including an AI-assisted research in its Westlaw legal database, the company said in November. That followed the August acquisition of Casetext, a company that uses advanced AI and machine learning to build technology for legal professionals.
The company’s legal professionals division pulled in $700 million of its total $1.8 billion revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down a fraction from $704 million last year thanks to the sale of a business management software company last year. It also owns Checkpoint tax and accounting service.
Operating profit fell 11% in the quarter to $558 million, but rose 12% excluding one-time gains following divestitures last year.
Full-year total company revenue also rose 3%, ton $6.79 billion.
“Last year was one of innovation and accomplishment across our business,” said CEO Steve Hasker in the statement. “We made significant progress delivering Generative AI-powered solutions, including the launch of AI-Assisted Research on Westlaw Precision, as well as expanded features and design enhancements across our product portfolio.
“We plan to maintain this momentum in 2024 through a robust product roadmap positioning us to meet our customers’ evolving needs at pace,” He continued.
Separately, Hasker said the company is in “growth and investment mode,” a far cry from the situation at many newsrooms across the U.S., which has seen a bruising start to the year, with over 800 media layoffs in January, along with the abrupt shutdown of The Messenger, which employed 270.
“2024 is an investment year for us,” said Hasker. “We see growth opportunities in 2025, 26 and beyond around generative AI, but not exclusively generative AI.”
It forecast that the investments and gains from AI will help drive a 6% revenue increase in 2024.
In addition to investing in AI and inking deals with companies developing the tools, Thomson Reuters has also moved to safeguard its product.
It is in the midst of a lawsuit with Ross Intelligence, which ran a legal research platform it shut down in 2021 after the outlet accused it of using Westlaw to train its own AI-based platform. A judge in that case ruled it will go to a jury, in one of the first copyright trials over the using unauthorized data to train the technology.
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