By Zlati Meyer, Detroit Free Press –
DETROIT — The Weather Channel has bought Weather Underground, a Web-based weather data company founded in Ann Arbor, Mich., the two companies announced Monday.
The purchase price has not been disclosed.
Weather Underground was founded in 1995 by a University of Michigan professor, a Ph.D. student and two undergraduates, who first began working together four years earlier to use the then-new Internet to teach K-12 students about weather, according to Jeff Masters, who now has his doctorate and is the company’s director of meteorology. The name was a “tongue-in check reference to the radical group.”
Weather Underground — which has 57 employees now, seven in Ann Arbor and the rest in San Francisco — provides weather forecasts for the world and current weather conditions, said Masters. It also has the largest network of personal weather stations with an estimated 20,000 participants who are furnished with Weather Underground software to upload their data to the website. Weather Underground is also available through Android and Apple applications.
Wunderground.com is the Web address for Weather Underground.
“The plan is to keep doing what we do,” Ann Arbor-based Masters said. “We’ll maintain a separate brand, the revenues going to Weather.com. … We were their main competitor and they put us out of business, because we were threatening their business. I’d say that’s a compliment.”
Weather Underground makes 85 percent of its money through ads and the remaining 15 percent from custom clients, such as Google, The Associated Press and American Express, he said.
“Everyone in the weather space is familiar with the strength of Weather Underground and its innovative method of presenting weather data. Weather Underground will add a great complementary, brand to our portfolio, a brand with a distinct, loyal, and active user base that will enable us to reach a unique segment of users,” The Weather Channel Cos. Chairman and CEO David Kenny said in a news release. “Most importantly, this acquisition will grow the weather expertise that is central to everything we do and will result in better forecasts and weather data for users on all of our platforms.”