Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:30 PM GMT on July 02, 2012
It's true. After 17 years as an independent company, Weather Underground has been sold, and will now be part of The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC.) As one of the founders of Weather Underground, I am excited about embarking upon this new chapter in our company's history. Having the infrastructure, resources, and content of The Weather Channel Companies will enable wunderground to create some great new products, and improve the quality and reliability of our existing content. We will now be called Weather Underground, LLC, and will maintain the wunderground.com web site as it is.
Figure 1. The original seven founders of wunderground.com, plus our first employee, circa 1998. In front, from left to right: Chris Schwerzler, Jeff Masters, Jeff Ferguson. In back: Dave Brooks, Alan Steremberg, Perry Samson, Chuck Prewitt, and Mike MacDonald.
The wild ride that began in 1995
Back in 1995, when the newly created commercial Internet put up for sale domains with a ".com" designation, and Weather Underground, Inc. became the world's first commercial weather web site, I could not have anticipated the wild ride that brought us to where we are at today. We registered the 2,000th domain ever taken, "wunderground.com", in 1995, missing registering "weather.com " by a month. Later that year, a group of executives from The Weather Channel visited us in Ann Arbor, inquiring on how we might work together. No sale resulted, but over the years, The Weather Channel and Weather Underground have had a number of meetings to discuss a possible merger. Many other companies have inquired about buying us, but we have always opted to stay independent, in order to nurture our creative, alternative weather web site and keep breaking new ground. The company's growth was slow at first, since we never took venture capital money. We grew from 6 employees in 1999 to 20 in 2009. But in the past three years, Weather Underground entered into a rapid period of growth that saw our staff more than double to 57 people. With a swelling user base around the globe, and with demands for our services to be made available across so many new digital platforms like mobile phones and tablets, the board recognized the need for an even greater injection of resources, and the decision was made to merge with The Weather Channel Companies.
How will the merger with The Weather Channel improve wunderground?
The Weather Channel is committed to keeping the Weather Underground brand and the web site in its current form. Weather Underground CEO Alan Steremberg will remain in charge, and our meteorologists and developers will continue to create the ground-breaking weather products that we're renowned for. The plan is to make both wunderground.com and weather.com stronger, by sharing content and infrastructure. Many Weather Underground features, such as our Personal Weather Station data, WunderMap, and my blog, are scheduled to also appear on the weather.com web site in the coming months. My blog's main home will continue to be wunderground.com, and I have been asked to continue to write the same variety of science-based posts on hurricanes, extreme weather, and climate change that I've provided since 2005. I enjoy communicating weather science, and am pleased I will be able to do this for both wunderground and The Weather Channel, which has an audience about three times as large as wunderground's.
Figure 2. One my favorite wunderphotos: a rainbow in Cyprus. With over 1.5 million wunderphotos uploaded, the wunderground community has helped make the web site far better than the employees could have done on their own.
For more information, see our press release, and WU meteorologist Shaun Tanner's blog.
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