Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Geek Farmers Gamble on Global Warming" (GOOG)

We haven't looked at the Google/Weatherbill guys in a while.*
From Forbes:

An alliance of data fanatics, geek farmers and high-priests of advanced computing are attempting to crack the code on the business of bad weather.

Originally established by a group of Google veterans as WeatherBill, the effort is now known the Climate Corporation and is growing by leaps and bounds. The San Francisco, CA-based company peddles a portfolio of what it calls “automated weather insurance products” for players in the $3 trillion global agriculture industry trying to reign in the risk of bad weather, which is responsible for more than 90% of crop losses annually.

The pay-out is automatic and based solely on measured weather conditions. Ergo: no claims or claims process.  But the big ticket item for sale is so-called “Total Weather Insurance,” which was described like so in a recent press release:
The company’s technology platform ingests weather measurements from 2.5 million locations and forecasts from major climate models on a daily basis, and processes that data along with 150 billion soil observations to generate 10 trillion weather simulation data points used in the company’s weather insurance pricing and risk analysis systems. The Climate Corporation manages over 50 terabytes of live data in its systems at any given time.
For 2011, the company is projecting an 1,000% increase in policies sold, premiums purchased and acres of farmland protected. As a sign of its ascendance, Byron Dorgan, the former U.S. Senator from North Dakota, joined the company’s board of directors today.

“When I was first introduced to The Climate Corporation, I realized they were destined to be successful in helping today’s farmers deal with increasingly volatile weather,” said Dorgan in a press release. “I saw their ability to marry available government data with Silicon Valley innovation and technology to help U.S. farmers mitigate the financial effects of weather damage to their crops and knew that I wanted to be involved.”...MORE
"WeatherBill: Is It the Riskiest Startup Ever?" (GOOG)
In Tuesday's post "Google Ventures' next big bet: Weather insurance (GOOG)" I said:

We had a few mentions of  WeatherBill early in this blog's life but I couldn't figure out how to make money off their output, it looks like a product made for selling, not for buying....
I purloined the "product made for selling, not for buying" bit from an insurance man who evaluated every insurance product on the basis of whether he would use it to insure his own business or if he would underwrite it for his agents to sell. A very handy mental map. You'll see why that line came to mind in this post from Greentech:
The startup says it will help farmers insure against bad weather....