WeatherBill insures farmers from extreme weather
Using cloud-based data analytics, WeatherBill seeks to reduce risks for farmers, as investor interest grows in agriculture and in technologies to adapt to climate change.
WeatherBill, a company that uses high-end computing to reduce risk in agriculture, yesterday said it raised $42 million from Khosla Ventures, Google's venture arm, and existing investors.
The San Francisco-based company, founded by two former Google employees, provides insurance plans to farmers to hedge against lost income due to extreme weather.
WeatherBill has built an application that continuously analyzes reams of weather-related data from multiple sources, including short-range forecasts, seasonal effects such as El Nino, and long-term trends. The same cloud-based platform is also used to provide insurance for travelers.
Vinod Khosla, which heads a green technology venture fund over $1 billion, said the technology can fundamentally change the risks associated with weather in agriculture. "Now WeatherBill can help farmers globally deal with the increasingly extreme weather brought on by climate change," he said in a statement.
In the case of losses from weather-related problems such as floods or droughts, farmers receive money from WeatherBill. People in agriculture can use the company's Web site to get an estimate of their premium based on their location and the crops they are growing.
In a conference call to announce the funding, Khosla and Bill Maris from Google Ventures said the deal with WeatherBill represents growing interest among investors in agriculture. "Helping farmers protect their financial futures and protect the global food supply is something I think we all can be passionate about," Maris said, according to a New York Times article.