Green

WeatherBill nabs $42M from Khosla, Google to help farmers cope with climate change

Weather-based insurance startup WeatherBill said today it had raised $42 million and signed on new investors Google Ventures and Khosla Ventures for its second round of financing.

The company, which was founded by two ex-Google employees in 2006, offers what it calls “disruptive” technology that delivers personalized weather insurance products for the $3 trillion global agriculture industry. In a statement, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said WeatherBill has the potential to “fundamentally change the risk profile” of agriculture. The company’s products is aimed at helping farmers protect their business and crops from weather changes brought on by climate change.

As we wrote last year, data is the next big thing in cleantech. WeatherBill is one of the companies leveraging weather and data to produce new products aimed at billion-dollar industries. WeatherBug is using weather data to make smart grid offerings. A number of lighting systems, home energy management and building energy management startups also factor in weather to determine how to program lighting and air conditioning systems for the maximum amount of energy savings and tenant comfort. Others use data in other ways — Genscape, for example, uses sensors to provide data about the grid that energy traders pay to use. And while WeatherBill’s weather and data technology is currently used for agricultural insurance, it could one day be used for energy markets as they become more weather-sensitive.

Farming and food supply is, of course, very sensitive to the weather. More than 90 percent of crop losses happen because of unexpected weather, and WeatherBill expects things to get worse as the effects of climate change increase the frequency of those events, says CEO David Friedberg, pointing to recent droughts in Russia and China and flooding in Australia. Friedberg co-founded the company with other ex-Googler Siraj Khaliq, now WeatherBill’s company’s chief technology officer.

The company’s technology enables the real-time pricing and purchasing of customizable weather insurance by using weather modeling and local weather monitoring systems. WeatherBill’s programs pinpoint weather conditions expected to affect adversely affect farmer’s land, and automatically pays the farmer if those weather incidents happen. The company’s technology also powers Raincheck.com, an automated weather insurance program for travelers worldwide.

Investors in this financing round also include NEA, Index Ventures, Allen & Company, First Round Capital, Atomico and Code Advisors. The company plans to use the capital to support product expansion in the U.S. and worldwide.

[Images via Flickr/Sony200boy and NatalieMaynor]