Over the course of the past 18 months, a number of California tech titans (Facebook, Salesforce.com, Zynga and Hulu) have established new engineering offices in Seattle. Most have arrived for one simple reason: The region’s strong line-up of technical talent. Now here comes one of the more unusual arrivals. (At least on the surface of things).
The Climate Corp. — a six-year-old San Francisco company that specializes in providing weather insurance to U.S. farmers — has chosen to establish a new engineering center in Seattle’s tech-heavy Pioneer Square neighborhood.
Executives at the company said they chose Seattle largely because of Amazon Web Services, the online services arm of Amazon.com. That may seem unusual until you hear more of the backstory of the company, which was founded by ex-Googlers David Friedberg and Siraj Khaliq.
The Climate Corp. crunches huge amounts of weather data, using the information to provide insurance to farmers who can lock in profits even in the case of drought, excessive rains or other adverse weather conditions.
Formerly known as WeatherBill, the company says it is one of the biggest users of Amazon’s Elastic MapReduce product. The company analyzes weather measurements from 2.5 million locations and forecasts on a daily basis, processing the data along with 150 billion soil observations. That information is then used to generate 10 trillion “weather simulation data points” which are used in the company’s weather insurance pricing and risk analysis systems.
“Our Seattle office plays a critical role in our aggressive growth strategy,” said CEO David Friedberg in a statement. “The Climate Corporation thrives on the talent of our people, and being in Seattle connects us to passionate engineering talent that is excited about taking on big challenges.”
The company’s new office is starting small, with just four employees. But The Climate Corp. plans to grow to about 20 workers in the next few years, hiring software engineers and others who specialize in managing “big data.”
The new office is being led by Brian Zimmer, a software engineering who previously worked at Orbitz and Yapta.