It turns out Monsanto needs a little help with its mission to create genetically modified, chemically enhanced supercrops that are resistant to everything the planet could throw at them.
The Big Ag giant is purchasing big data company The Climate Corporation for $930 million.
The Climate Corporation applies data analytics to weather to help farmers adapt to climate change. It combines “hyper-local” weather monitoring, agronomic data modeling, and weather simulations to gain insight into how changing weather conditions could affect crops. The company also has technology to help farmers manage these risks and offers “weather insurance.”
Monsanto said in a statement that the goal of this acquisition is to increase farmer productivity and help them use their resources more effectively.
“The Climate Corporation is focused on unlocking new value for the farm through data science,” said Hugh Grant, chairman and CEO of Monsanto. “Everyone benefits when farmers are able to produce more with fewer resources.”
Except that not everyone benefits.
Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and the resulting crops have damaged public and environmental health and destroyed traditional farming communities all over the world. Its seeds have been linked to cancer and birth defects, and its array of chemicals and GMOs promotes pesticide resistance, spreads gene contaminants, pollutes soil and groundwater, and creates a global monoculture monopoly that presents a significant threat to the global food supply.
But I digress.
The more productive the farmers are, the more genetically engineered crop seeds the world has, and the more money Monsanto can make. The Climate Corporation’s technology will help Monsanto build out its data science and technology offerings, “which represents the agriculture sector’s next major breakthrough.”
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This announcement came the same day Monsanto reported a third quarter earnings loss due to lower seed sales and a drought that required more seeds to be shipped from South America. Forecast earnings for 2014 were also lower than analyst expectations.
Monsanto said that buying The Climate Corporation will strengthen its growth rate.
In addition to being named the “world’s most evil corporation,” Monsanto has attracted bad publicity in spades over the past year. Millions of people participated in the March Against Monsanto to protest legislation that would protect the corporation’s interests.
That said, it is a big win for The Climate Corporation and its investors, Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, NEA, Index Ventures, Atomico, Glynn Capital, and Western Technology Investment.
This is interesting, considering Founders Fund’s interest in technology that “advances human capabilities” and Vinod Khosla’s outspoken commitment to clean tech and sustainable food.
But $930 million is a lot of money and represents a solid exit for a company that raised $110 million in venture capital.
Unfortunately, now only Monsanto farmers will have access to this technology, which will only become more important as the agricultural industry continues to evolve and the climate continues to change.