IBM Buys The Weather Company's Digital Assets

IBM announced plans to acquire the digital assets of The Weather Company to provide clients with weather data that can drive business decisions.

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LAS VEGAS—IBM signed a definitive agreement to acquire The Weather Company's B2B, mobile and cloud-based Web properties, including WSI,, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand.

The news of the acquisition played heavily at the IBM Insight 2015 conference here, where IBM made a series of announcements with The Weather Company, including plans to build a set of new IBM Cloud Insight Services with the company and hosting a two-hour segment of the Weather Underground TV show on-site at the Insight conference. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

However, the TV segment—The Weather Channel—will not be acquired by IBM but will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract. The combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will serve as the foundation for the new Watson Internet of Things (IoT) unit and Watson IoT cloud platform, building on a $3 billion commitment IBM made in March 2015 to invest in related offerings and services.

The planned acquisition would bring together IBM's cognitive and analytics platform and The Weather Company's dynamic cloud data platform, which powers the fourth most-used mobile app daily in the United States and handles 26 billion inquiries to its cloud-based services each day. The deal would extend the reach of IBM's cloud data services capabilities and expand The Weather Company's business capabilities and consumer reach on a global scale. The Weather Company's cloud-based data platform will enable IBM to collect an even larger variety and higher velocity of global data sets, store them, analyze them and, in turn, distribute them and empower richer and deeper insights across the Watson platform.

"Just imagine what can happen when you bring a great B2B business and a great B2C business together," Bryson Koehler, chief information and technology officer at The Weather Company, told eWEEK. With The Weather Channel's app so prevalent with consumers, adding IBM's analytics and cognitive tools to the mix will only serve to keep consumers and citizens better informed.

For instance, with weather data and IBM's predictive technology, insurance companies would be able to foretell hailstorms in enough time to warn their clients to move their cars inside to avoid damage. Or governments could reach out to constituents with information about safety issues related to bad weather. That's not to mention the impact of weather on retail, sports and entertainment, travel and other industries, Glen Finch, global leader of Big Data & Analytics for IBM Global Business Services, said in an interview at Insight 2015.

"About 12 months ago, we started down a data partnership path with Twitter, with The Weather Company and with Fox," Finch said. "Our goal was to help our clients make better business decisions by providing them with more data. Now, we have a closer and deeper relationship with the best weather forecasting capability out there. You now have the power to know as opposed to infer."

Indeed, The Weather Company and IBM formed a strategic alliance earlier this year to integrate real-time weather insights into business to improve operational performance and decision-making. Through the alliance, IBM licensed The Weather Company's cloud data platform and collaborated with The Weather Company's B2B division to deliver joint industry solutions, data services packages and APIs that enable businesses and developers to integrate real-time weather insights into business. Also, earlier this year, The Weather Company announced plans to shift the massive weather data services platform that powers its B2B division to the IBM Cloud.

Upon closing the acquisition, IBM will own The Weather Company product and technology assets that include many of the world's leading meteorological data science experts, precision forecasting capabilities and a high-volume cloud platform that ingests, processes, analyzes and distributes enormous data sets at scale in real time. The company's sophisticated models analyze data from 3 billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights per day, allowing it to offer a broad range of data-driven products and services to more than 5,000 clients in the media, aviation, energy, insurance and government industries.