Confessions of a Weather Underground Employee

By: Shaun Tanner , 2:25 PM GMT on July 03, 2012

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Before I get into why I am writing this blog, I must give two disclosures. First, writing this blog was my idea. I came to the idea to write it after thinking that some in the Weather Underground community would like to hear an employee's point of view regarding Weather Underground becoming part of The Weather Channel Companies. I have not been asked to write this blog and these are my own words. Second, I am speaking mostly from a meteorological perspective. I am not technically in the Development Department, Sales Department, or Marketing Department. Although I work very closely with each of these departments, I do not claim to be speaking for them.

For those of you who haven't heard of me or read my blogs, my name is Shaun Tanner. I have worked for Weather Underground since February 2004, many of those years as its Head of Meteorological Operations. I am responsible for a variety of things, including taking media requests, reporting on weather events, and producing weather-based products. My job, along with nearly all of the other positions at Weather Underground, requires me to wear multiple hats. While I am a trained meteorologist and am responsible for keeping up with major weather events, I also extensively program. Needless to say, I have grown with Weather Underground the past 8.5 years and I have gotten to know many in its community.

So, when I first found out Weather Underground was to merge with The Weather Channel Companies, I went through many emotions. After all, I had literally been with the company through blood, sweat, and tears, so it felt as if something was being taken from me. It took a few days before I began to realize the possibilities of a partnership with The Weather Channel Companies. While this eventually became clear to me, it will take some explaining for it to become clear to you.

When I first came to Weather Underground, the company was very small. There were three meteorologists, one of which was Dr. Jeff Masters. We had a small Sales Department of a couple people, and no formal Marketing Department. While much has changed over the years, we still "only" have 8 meteorologists. I say "only" because other weather companies have many multiple times this amount. Although it is amazing what we have produced with this amount of meteorologists working hand-in-hand with the other departments, we can do so much more.

The atmosphere in our office has always been free-flowing. Departments freely exchange ideas, both good and bad, with other departments in hopes of developing an innovative new way of imaginging weather and the way the public sees it. WunderMap was one of these projects that was imagined by the Development Department and took cooperation with every other department to make it happen. Thus, today we have a product that has really revolutionalized weather imagery. There are many more examples, if you've got the time.

No idea is too crazy for Weather Underground. Crazy ideas often have a way of becoming brilliantly innovative. While we do not act on every crazy idea, we sure love to entertain them often. This brings me to the possibilities of a partnership with The Weather Channel Companies. An expanding imagination is the biggest of these. I could literally name around a dozen weather, climate, and environment products off the top of my head that I have not been able to develop over the past few years. These products have not failed due to the will of the company or any other negative attitude, but rather because I have not had the time or resources to see these products to their full potential. And, by the way, I am no wiz kid. I am willing to bet that each Weather Underground employee has at least a similar amount of fantastic ideas floating around that could once again revolutionize weather. We need to pull these products out, let them mature, and open them up to the Weather Underground community. A partnership with The Weather Channel Companies will allow this to happen. This is why I am excited. Weather is at the core of what The Weather Channel Companies does. Because of this, we will have at our disposal over 200 meterologists and a vast array of other resources that we will be able to use to bring to the Weather Underground community some more innovative products we have always been known for producing.

You are the Community

The last thing I want to write about is you, the Weather Underground community. The community you have built on our site is like no other in the weather industry. We have created, and you have produced, a robust blog network, millions of WunderPhotos, the most widespread Personal Weather Station network on the web, and a weather site with a community as its foundation. This is what makes Weather Underground so special. Many of you reading this blog have even been using the site longer than I have been employed at the company. I still receive emails occasionally from customers who used the initial telnet site back in the mid-1990s. How awesome is that! There is no one aspect of Weather Underground we should thank more that its community. But, guess what? That community is about to get bigger. That community packed full of weather fanatics, "wunderful" photographers, and backyard meteorologists is about to receive a bunch of new members that didn't even know the community ever existed. And that, perhaps, is the most exciting part. If the community made Weather Underground what it is today, what will you make it tomorrow?

Finally, I will leave you with this thought. I was exchanging an email with a co-worker regarding what we had accomplished over the past 8 years and what we could accomplish in the next 20. He responded with all the crazy ideas that went on to flourish along with the crazy ideas that fell flat on the cutting room floor. Then, at the bottom of the email he wrote, "Let's bring the crazy with us."

Yes, let's do that.

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95. blueeyedpanther
7:20 PM GMT on October 29, 2012
Here in Ohio it has been raining all night & day! It's also VERY COLD! Winds are not too strong thank God!

To those that are in the Sandy Hurricane, please be safe!
Member Since: October 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
94. FateYanagee
1:11 PM GMT on October 28, 2012
I have been using this site for a long time. I love it. Just recently my malwarebytes has been blocking it and Im annoyed by that. I have notified them to see why. I havnt had problems except for some photos which could have had a threat, not sure why they were blocked. Any idea?
Member Since: August 12, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
93. Patrap
10:08 AM GMT on August 28, 2012
www.nola.com
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127559
92. cyclonebuster
7:13 AM GMT on August 28, 2012
Perhaps you can persuade TWC to do a story on my TUNNEL idea Shaun? I have a lot to teach them...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
91. Skyzics
3:06 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Hopefully TWC will maintain but otherwise leave the Weather Underground website independent of TWC itself.
Member Since: January 12, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 16
90. sunlakedude
4:02 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting MarylandGirl:
I will say that I was fearful of this merger/buyout as soon as I heard about it....Been a WU paid member since 2001! Stopped watching TWC when it turned from weather to an entertainment channel.......I wondered how long before I noticed something 'not right' with our site...well, it has happened. Seems every time I try to check out WU tropical pages I have 'threats' being blocked by AVG (my security program). Granted they appear to be tracking bugs but still....really??? What will be next? What are they tracking to see? We are not shopping here!! It is all about the weather....please do not screw it up!!


Simply clear your cookies on a daily basis with a free program called CCleaner available for download from www.cnet.com. It's a fast "disc cleanup". In addition, they have a free software program available from CNET called Malwarebytes. The free version is not a subsitute for anti-virus but will catch many types of malware that some anti-virus programs miss. You have to manualy update it. Updates are available daily. And you have to run it manually, which I do daily. Always clear your cookies and cache before running it. Both programs are free and are a good addition to any anti-virus program. I myself use AVG and have never received any warnings when using WU as long as I clear my cookies and cache with CCleaner before it does it's daily scan.
Member Since: March 13, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 84
89. MarylandGirl
8:07 AM GMT on August 06, 2012
I will say that I was fearful of this merger/buyout as soon as I heard about it....Been a WU paid member since 2001! Stopped watching TWC when it turned from weather to an entertainment channel.......I wondered how long before I noticed something 'not right' with our site...well, it has happened. Seems every time I try to check out WU tropical pages I have 'threats' being blocked by AVG (my security program). Granted they appear to be tracking bugs but still....really??? What will be next? What are they tracking to see? We are not shopping here!! It is all about the weather....please do not screw it up!!
Member Since: September 10, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 486
88. Ford83
3:23 PM GMT on July 31, 2012
Quoting jozarba:
Thank you for your time and optimism. These mergers rarely turn out that way ... the job is to maximize profits .. the weather underground family's needs are a distant second consideration. I pray that I am wrong. I am deeply distressed. I saw what happenned to the weather channel. I use to watch it for hours and hours each day .... I haven't watched it in several years now. I know weather channel owners could care less but I, personally, will be looking for alternatives now.


I would tent to agree with most of your views regarding the TWC. I would be willing to bet that over half there airtime is devoted to commercials.

Exactly how this will effect the Weather Underground remains to be seen, but like you, I have my fingers crossed.

Ford83
Member Since: August 17, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
87. seflagamma
2:23 PM GMT on July 28, 2012
Oh my goodness,
This is so sad..

I have not been around much in the past month so this is news to me.

I for one, tossed aside TWC once I found WU in 2004 and started blogging in 2005.

Next to this site they looked like amatures.

Shaun, I appreciate the heads up and your positive spin on the situation.

I just hope things do not change too much. Most of us are true weather geeks and proud of it.
We feel "at home" here! LOL

I have met many friends from this site in the past 7 years and I am so grateful.

For tropical weather information no place beats the information we get here.

And as for our "community blogs" they are the BEST. Almost every topic imaginal is discussed somewhere.
And just "drop by for a friendly chat" blogs..
or our famous "Party Blogs"... I sure hope they are not restricted.

Also, like many have already said, I love the world wide appeal of this site. I get to travel to countries I will never get to visit in real time with friends I have made here and their photos and writings.

I will wait and watch and hope for the best.


HI EVERYONE!!!!
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 40882
86. brintcorb
4:25 AM GMT on July 24, 2012
Thanks for your work Shaun and love your precise, direct and deadpan style.

I doubt weather channel will change anything, exceptin' a raise or two for you-all.
Member Since: July 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
85. OtherBug
3:28 PM GMT on July 20, 2012
When I heard the TWC merge news, my first thought was: OMG we're all gonna die...

Then I thought: New horizons and new friends are waiting to meet me beyond the sea...



Just please, please WUBAs, don't send me anywhere near Cantore. PLEEEASE!

I went through Hugo and my ol' bones would not (literally) stand that!
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 8 Comments: 58
84. LakeWorthFinn
3:13 PM GMT on July 20, 2012
Thanks for the heads up Shaun.

We are "The Wild Bunch".

Crazy is still here.

Let us stay...


Way Too Happy
Member Since: October 6, 2005 Posts: 67 Comments: 7279
83. 10C
1:32 PM GMT on July 19, 2012
Thank you Shawn for giving us this employee's perspective. I am praying that everyone gets to keep their respective jobs and promotions as well. I know it is in our human nature to see the negative side first, and I am happy that you wrote after you worked through those emotions.
Big business has been given a bad name over the past decades... and due to that, I hope sincerely that Weather has taken note... and will move forward in GOOD fashion. The consumer (aka our Wunderground community) pays attention, regardless of our busy lives. Consumers have a choice. We do not have to watch, wear, think as they mandate. You see, one of the reasons we all came to Weather Underground was because we did not like what Weather.com had to offer. Your forcasts are more "spot on", your website is easy to navigate and we can opt out of advertising for an affordable cost, even through the toughest of economic times.
So, I will wait, watch and see what comes to us.
God bless you and your family!
Member Since: October 25, 2004 Posts: 7 Comments: 5
82. BruceK
11:46 AM GMT on July 18, 2012
Well, I just heard of the buyout, and while I am happy for the staff, I am sad for us. I can only hope that TWC does leave WU alone, but I fear for the worst. That said, I would like to thank the staff of WU for the years of great product. Giving me the ability to look anywhere and see near real-time content has saved the lives of myself, and my family (Friday the 13th, June, 2008 tornado, AR). I just hope that this continues.
Thanks Guys!
Member Since: December 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
81. mwave
8:00 PM GMT on July 15, 2012
Mergers never leave companies unscathed. Both the parent company and the purchased company are affected.
I have lived through a couple of oil company mergers courtesy of Chevron. The first merger was a total gutting of the purchased company, the second a more democratic affair (to the extreme), and the latest has been similar to the second.

For media companies I would expect similar results, hopefully the management can work together for the benefit of both the investors and the employees.

Don't expect the 'underground' to have the same meaning as before. There really is not too much 'underground' in weather forecasting and reporting anyway besides the climate change debate. It all occurs above ground.
Member Since: July 15, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
80. Jonas
12:12 AM GMT on July 13, 2012
To grow and prosper you need money, tons of money. To develop and research you need a whole bunch more money because research and development has a lot of proto type errors and errors cost money.

Sentiment aside and practicality to the front Weather Underground has several employees to look after. That is, wages, insurance and some guarantee that their jobs will be protected and the business will sustain and flourish.

It is wise and caring business people who understand this and attempt to act on the best information available. As for the founding fathers of Weather Underground, I am not going to deny them a little profit for their time and risks over the years as they built the business.

As for the Weather Channel, I do not think I have ever seen their product. I have been an avid used of NOAA for years.



Member Since: September 5, 2006 Posts: 338 Comments: 504
79. theshepherd
11:02 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
@ barefoot

"theshepherd,
Maybe what I'll do is get me some weather underground gear as a memento of fine times and good friends, just in case the doomsday scenario comes to pass."



:)

Good for you.

Hopefully "doomsday" as far as WU is concerned, remains where it belongs; In the comics.

I've never been one to not have faith in a good thing.

I appreciate WU.

As a commercial construction superintendent, I sought every tool I could get my hands on to plan the job from beginning to end.

When Mother Nature, bless her heart, throws a monkey wrench in the mix, one needs more than weekly project meetings, SurTrac and intestinal fortitude.

Having a difficult project with an accelerated 6 month schedule and hurricanes popping up all over the map in 08', I found WU. Finding WU, I found more than anything you could find on the 6 o'clock news, for sure.

Since then, it has become much more. We all have our stories and reasons for "hanging in there". I doubt they are all that different.

Frequently, amongst friends when weather becomes the topic, I'm asked, "How do you know all that?"

I'm sure that many here, "know all that" for the same reason; "WU".

So if the staff of TWCC is cruising these blogs, "Please, let us be".

"Don't shorten the leash".




Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10077
78. Barefootontherocks
8:23 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
Origin of the name has been part of the wunderground.com about us page for a long time. I am not sure but seems to me this paragraph's been there since I first came here for travel weather info in 1999:

"The growing Internet weather program was given the name Weather Underground, a reference to the 1960's radical group that also originated at the University of Michigan, which had taken its name from the lyrics to Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, 'You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.'"

theshepherd,
Maybe what I'll do is get me some weather underground gear as a memento of fine times and good friends, just in case the doomsday scenario comes to pass.
Member Since: April 29, 2006 Posts: 151 Comments: 18360
77. theshepherd
8:14 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
I know the history of Bill Ayers and the Weatherman of the original Weather Underground.

I know the "tongue and cheek" version of Weather Underground created by Jeff and "have known" since 2008.

Pick your battles.

Have a nice day.


Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10077
76. Patrap
7:17 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
You got some poop on yer shirt there shep.

Maybe you should wu mail Masters and see why and how they came up with "Weather Underground" sport.

You may learn sumting as well.


Superior intellect and all, ya know.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127559
75. theshepherd
7:07 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
As long as we're adding our two cents, which as of now totals $1.60:
Shaun's is worth ten cents as his is inside info. j/k
:)

Getting shed of the founding name "Weather Underground" is essential. We all know the first thing that comes to mind to those unfamiliar with WU. Not good business.

WU has given an astounding amount of leeway to bloggers. Trust me, I, as well as anyone know this to be true.

Controversy, personal attacks and even attacks on the founders of WU, often carry on into the wee hours of the morning. This of course was good for WU. It generated traffic, which generated revenue. Stop reading this now if you disagree with that principle.

Generating revenue for the few employees of WU and generating revenue for a major corporation are two different animals, or minnows, as Nea's metaphors toyed with. Both equally valid.

Maybe TWCC will leave WU on this long leash. Maybe not.

Maybe TWCC will continue to allow bloggers to speak ill of them. Maybe not. What would you do?

For the most passionate among us; what would you do?


All agendas aside, don't poop where you eat.









Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10077
74. RobertHawkins
3:46 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
I have been a wunderground.com user for as long as I can remember. I spent several years doing side by side comparisons of your temp and precip forecasts compared with accuweather and weather.com -- after a while I gave up on the other two because (for whatever reason) wunderground.com was consistently the most accurate.

Mergers and acquisitions are always about downsizing, just look at banking or the airline industry! In the short term wunderground.com may stay the same or benefit, but in the long run you will merely be absorbed by the behemoth that is The Weather Channel Companies.

I am truly sad about your inevitable demise but I will appreciate wunderground.com for as long as it bears any resemblance to its former self.

Hoping for the best but prepared for the worst...
Member Since: July 16, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
73. cyclonebuster
12:42 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
Perhaps you can persuade TWC to do a story on my TUNNEL idea Shaun? I have a lot to teach them...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
72. SnowshoeLane
11:29 AM GMT on July 09, 2012
I was also quite dismayed when I heard TWC had acquired Weather Underground.

TWC is useless for local weather and if you live in a rural area or (apparently) far north in the US, TWC completely ignores you. Last week, northern Minnesota and Wisconsin and the UP had a derecho go through--and TWC ignored us and showed Ice Pilots instead. Who cares about those low population areas anyway. Plus, the online site is useless and only shows temps for a town 25 miles away--completely irrelevant to our area, esp. in the winter. And TWC's maps and graphics are terrible--CNN has better weather graphics on TV.

I love Wunderground for the local input, the wonderful statistics (which are such a big part of weather), the ability to look up past data (very wonderful!), as well as the photos and blogs. Not sure why this merger is happening, but I am very disappointed because I know our access to truly local data will be gone.

Thanks for the memories. This is such a wonderful site, I come everyday, and I hope it won't disappear.
Member Since: December 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
71. palmettobug53
11:26 PM GMT on July 08, 2012
There's not much more I can add, that hasn't been addressed by everyone else that has posted.

I checked out WU initially because of their excellent tropical forecasts and information during The Season. Living on the coast and having sat through Hugo (shudder....), it is not surprisig that I'd want intelligent and informative weather discussions.

I then discovered the members blogs. I lurked, I liked, I signed up.

Though initially shocked, and a bit horrified, to hear the news of the merger, I am going into watch and wait mode.

I've seen what can happen when a larger company acquires a smaller one. There are assurances that the asquisition is filled with great and beneficial possibilities and opportunities for all, that nothing will change 'our little community' and then, a year or two later, the ax falls.

I truly hope this does not happen here. I love our quirky little community. I've made a lot of friends here. I rely on the WU forecasters to give me the information I need about the weather. I'm no great writer but I enjoy posting on my blog. And there's always the awesome Wunderphotos to browse through.

No offense to FB members; there's a lot of you out there that love it but if TWC ruins WU, the thought that I may eventually be forced to sign up on FB makes me want to throw up.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 232 Comments: 24970
70. Neapolitan
11:45 AM GMT on July 08, 2012
When a shark eats a minnow, the result isn't a shark with minnow-like characteristics; it's usually a shark that's still hungry. ;-)

My own personal experiences (aka "A Tale of Two Different Minnows Swallowed By Two Different Sharks")

Case #1: I was lead software developer for a product our small start-up worked on for two years before it caught the eye of a very large competitor. Desiring both our technology and our customer base, this larger company entered into good faith negotiations with our principles. We realized the larger entity's greater name-brand recognition and vastly larger sales and marketing resources could only help us expand, while they knew that our small size had allowed our product to become even better than their own. All our people were brought into the larger company, and politics were kept to a minimum as we were allowed to maintain our start-up mindset and culture. The software is still available today.

Case #2: I was one of several lead software developers for a product our start-up worked on for about a year before it caught the eye of a very large competitor. Desiring both our technology and our customer base, this larger company entered into good faith negotiations with our principles. We hoped the larger entity's greater name-brand recognition and vastly larger sales and marketing resources could help us expand, while they told us that our small size had allowed our product to become "pretty good"--though we discovered that "pretty good" wasn't a compliment, but rather their way of expressing that were were a competitive threat. The acquisition was swift and painful. About half of our people were summarily let go as they'd become "redundant", while the other half were given the option of re-applying for their own existing jobs. Some were indeed rehired (I chose to walk with a minuscule severance), while others were found lacking in the larger entity's eyes, and had to seek employment elsewhere. A handful of the very best features of our product were arbitrarily ripped away and clunkily assimilated into the larger product, while endless middle management meetings resulted in many other much-loved features being declared "nonessential" or "frivolous", and discarded. The upshot is that our product is no longer available, as the larger entity is squatting atop the license; they apparently have no intention of reviving it, as their own market share has diminished greatly over the last few years.

It is my sincere hope that the TWC/WU acquisition results in a case #1 situation, though the pessimistic part of me will always fear and cringe at the thought of a reenactment of case #2. I realize change is a vital part of progress--but not all change is good or pleasant. Best of luck to you, Shaun, and to your co-workers. And best of luck to us, the WU community.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
69. toddluck
10:41 PM GMT on July 06, 2012
But why would the Weather Channel want to acquire a site loved by people who hate the Weather Channel?"



to eliminate the compitition
Member Since: April 28, 2006 Posts: 210 Comments: 14712
68. crackshot7
10:08 PM GMT on July 06, 2012
This is a VERY sad topic. TWC merger will absolutely ruin The Weather Underground. We all pretty much know what will happen next . . .
We, the community, will be quietly set aside and WUnderground will become an extension of TWC - and all the horrible garbage it has become. I'm sorry to say that this means less of everything for the community. It also means worthless video shows, with accompanying paid video commercials. It means less tech, and having to sift through "bland cable-style commercial weather". Exactly what none of us want. As I said, A VERY SAD topic and sad day for the followers of the Weather Underground. To sum it up and quote from a released news article out there on the web;
"But why would the Weather Channel want to acquire a site loved by people who hate the Weather Channel?"
Member Since: February 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
67. Eutamias
9:51 PM GMT on July 06, 2012
Oh, I'm so so sad. I feel like my best friend died. Like Fox News bought Consumer Reports. Like eBay bought Skype. Like Walmart bought Whole Earth catalog. Oh, I'll keep my account, but I'm expecting the corporate bottom line to dictate what I see now. WC is the People Magazine of weather.

So sad. Big money wins out. I'll miss you guys (and gals). I've loved you for many years now. You did well. Thank you, Shaun, for keeping a stiff upper lip. BTW, were you there when AOL bought Netscape? Sad sad sad.

I know it's too early, but I need a drink.
Member Since: December 19, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
66. Treasures
9:31 PM GMT on July 06, 2012
Sad sad news.
Really it is not about emotions.
It is about the fact WU was the best game around! WEATHER. Good Luck to you. You will be missed. If TWC was this good I would of been following them! I fear it is all about the money.
Member Since: December 25, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
65. doubletwist
1:43 PM GMT on July 06, 2012
It's great to hear about things from an employee perspective but I'm afraid it still doesn't allay my fears.

Every time a small company is bought by a large one we hear the same reassurances that "They want us for who we are" "they won't mess with our way of doing things" "we will get a lot more resources from them" etc. And yet inevitably over time the execs start to question why they're spending money on that smaller part of the business, or why the smaller part isn't monetizing every possible thing it could just like the rest of the company. Off the top of my head I can't think of a single example of a merger like this that has turned out well in the long run for the smaller company.

As for the possibilities of a significantly larger community, I'd like to suggest the Weather Underground employees read up on "The Eternal September." The quantity of people may increase but it's a good bet that the quality will drop like a rock. Lets face it, most people who actually care about weather and about being part of a *good* weather-centric community are already part of the Weather Underground. What we're mostly likely to gain are the trolls and the flamers and the spammers.

While I've only been paying for ad-free WU since 2005 [though reading it longer], I've been on the internet since the early 90's. I've seen this kind of thing happen way too many times to believe it will work out for the best in the long run. It may not go downhill immediately, but as of Dr Master's announcement I fear for the future of the best weather site on the 'net.

I genuinely hope I'm wrong though and that it turns out to be everything you guys are hoping for. I will continue to pay for WU for as long as the site is clear and useful to me and I don't feel I'm being needlessly monetized.


Edit: My membership/usage time for accuracy.
Member Since: April 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2
64. NWShowMeState
2:52 AM GMT on July 06, 2012
WU now owned by Bain Capital. They're the biggest reason I stop depending on TWC for my weather forecast. I live in a rural area of Missouri where we're not important enough to TWC to give us a reasonable forecast. WU has been doing a great job forecasting my weather and I'm afraid that's going to change. It's about the money they can make not the people in these rural areas where the populations are low that's important to them. Well Shaun I wish you the best of luck with you future with TWC/WU your job may just get outsourced. Say hello to your new boss Al Roker from all of us in NW Missouri.
Member Since: July 6, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
63. pfile
9:56 PM GMT on July 05, 2012
yep, it would seem so. i think the bain connection was reported in the NYT story referencing this buyout.
Member Since: December 21, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
62. hiPTmt
6:03 PM GMT on July 05, 2012
I see that the current owners of TWC are NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group. Does that mean that that WU is now partly owned by Bain Capital?
Member Since: October 20, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
61. cyclonebuster
5:21 PM GMT on July 05, 2012
Quoting shauntanner:
I truly appreciate everybody's comments on this blog, and I encourage everybody to comment more. The Weather Underground community has not evolved to where it is now by being stifled.

Most of the comments I have read echo what I initially felt when I heard about this merger, so I completely understand the emotion. The entire community has an interest in making the community even better. So let's do that, all of us.

Being a cynic is natural and understood. But, stick around, you just might be surprised.


I have a far greater interest in making the WORLD better not just our community Shaun...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
60. oldschool
5:12 PM GMT on July 05, 2012
I've been through a number of corporate buyouts, takeovers, and mergers and they all start the same way - a high ranking person from the acquiring firm appears at an employee meeting with the management of the aquiree and one of the them gives this speech (the tenses change depending who's delivering):

"We are really excited to have B part of A. A really respects what B has done, especially the people and culture that has made B so innovative. We foresee no immediate changes in B, so for you it's 'business as usual', though we hope that the resources of A will make B even more successful than B would have been on its own."

Usually that lasts a few weeks, maybe a few months, then there's a financial downturn or squeeze of some sort and "efficiencies have to be gained" leading to management integration (often first in accounting, HR, facilities). Eventually there's rebranding and value erosion.

It doesn't have to be this way - I've been involved with some events that have been very successful for both firms over many years. But it takes a rare management combination of vision and trust, and I've only seen it work well a few times.

WU is about weather, TWC is about making money off weather (which is pretty important if you want to be around long). Being able to take advantage of the strengths of both firms will be a challenge I hope you all can meet without imploding.
Member Since: March 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
59. ChromeJob
5:04 PM GMT on July 05, 2012
"Let's bring the crazy with us."

I love it. But ... are you going anywhere? Sit tight, stick to your ideals, and keep the crazy with you wherever you guys are working.

Wunderground uber alles! ;)
Member Since: September 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
58. ArizonaLensman
9:13 PM GMT on July 04, 2012
WU user since 1997. Just a quick note. The reason why people are edgy about this merger is simple. Your user community is made up of people who don't care much for TWC's website. It's too dumbed down and commercialized. We gravitated to WU because we are geeky and interested in the technical details. We fear, rightly, I think, that TWC is going to try to turn WU into something else, to screw with it, and ruin it. So that's a big letdown. And frankly, speaking just for myself, I don't buy the rationale for the move. I don't see how it helps either resource to be hooked up with the other. At all. The differences and distinctions are what brought us here. Any blurring of those is not what WU users want. And TWC is not going to become more geeky. That's just not in the cards. So what's the point? It's for you guys, the principals. Not for us. I don't like it. I appreciate what we have had here all these years, but I am bracing for it to get ruined now.
Member Since: August 30, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 2
57. pottery
12:35 PM GMT on July 04, 2012
Quoting shauntanner:
I truly appreciate everybody's comments on this blog, and I encourage everybody to comment more. The Weather Underground community has not evolved to where it is now by being stifled.

Most of the comments I have read echo what I initially felt when I heard about this merger, so I completely understand the emotion. The entire community has an interest in making the community even better. So let's do that, all of us.

Being a cynic is natural and understood. But, stick around, you just might be surprised.

Thanks.
I am not going anywhere.
And I'm no stranger to surprises.

Very good to know that WU is listening to the concerns here.
Stay Strong, and continue the fantastic work you have all put in over the years.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24029
56. Nona
12:00 PM GMT on July 04, 2012
Quoting SafeInTexas:
Wow, I wouldn't want to be Shaun right now :(

A lot of culture issues can crop up when large firm buys a small firm that does that same thing...



That is the heart of the problem. If a merger occurs between two organizations that have very different corporate cultures, the weaker/smaller organization's culture gets corrupted and displaced by the stronger/larger organization. It won't be a merger but instead a consumption and digestion of the smaller by the larger.

This fact does not bode well for The Weather Underground.
Member Since: August 9, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
55. Shaun Tanner , Senior Meteorologist (Admin)
6:30 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
I truly appreciate everybody's comments on this blog, and I encourage everybody to comment more. The Weather Underground community has not evolved to where it is now by being stifled.

Most of the comments I have read echo what I initially felt when I heard about this merger, so I completely understand the emotion. The entire community has an interest in making the community even better. So let's do that, all of us.

Being a cynic is natural and understood. But, stick around, you just might be surprised.
54. pottery
4:44 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
As an international blogger, I hope u guys at Wunderground have clearly expressed to the higherups at TWC the fact that this is a site with WORLDWIDE membership and interests. For those of us in the tropics, a huge part of what makes Wunderground so great is the unity of the membership across international boundaries - literally around the globe. There is a real comfort to blogging with others who are on the front lines of tropical weather, both in and outside the Atlantic basin, and I'd hate to see that community shrink or be destroyed because the "new" management doesn't understand how important the "no boundaries" policy of Wunderground really is.

Other than that, I'm taking a wait-and-see policy with TWC-NBC. It could be a very good thing. Unfortunately, while at heart I'm an optimist, I'm also by experience a cynic...

Ditto, to everything said above.
Those of us outside of the US come here for the International flavour of the Weather. I am sure that plenty of US members do the same.

The "approval rating" for the merger appears low.
I for one, will wait and see, but like Baha, I'm a cynic.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24029
53. Patrap
2:32 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
Quoting RyGuy81:
I think I am more concerned about this "partnership" than I am excited about it. Yes,all of the normal concerns that the site will change,become more like the 'Weather Channel"...what really concerns me is what interest they may have in regards to regulating or censoring articles or blogs in regard to climate change. After all,the president of the Weather Channel once said in an interview(I believe it was on Fox news,of course)that climate change was not even real. If the president of THE WEATHER CHANNEL denies the undeniable fact that we are now experiencing the beginnings of the long predicted climate change,how much is the company actually interested in weather,as opposed to ratings and profits? It has become clear by the programming that TWC has grown ever more concerned with profits,and has definitely strayed from it's early roots(in my opinion,not for the better). Profits are understandable,but I worry that there may be an agenda. To all who understand the science behind climate change(most members here are intelligent and educated enough),it is obvious that the ones who still push the idea that the science is unsettled and still up for debate have an agenda. The think tanks that produce the anti climate change propaganda are well funded by companies who have a huge financial interest in continuing business as usual. Having heard TWC's president flat out deny climate change,I wonder if they have merged with Wunderground in order to have influence over one of the great voices on the internet that explains the truth about climate,and doesn't worry about upsetting readers who don't buy into the AGW "hoax".I truly hope this site remains the site that I fell in love with. Wunderground is the alternative to TWC. It's like democrats and republicans becoming one party. I will remain optimistic until the site gives me a reason to think otherwise.




That particular TWC President Left in 2007

John Coleman is an American TV weatherman noted, along with entrepreneur Frank Batten, for founding The Weather Channel. He presently works as an on-camera weather forecaster at KUSI-TV in San Diego but is no longer affiliated with The Weather Channel.



Stay Classy Wunderground...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127559
52. Nate
2:31 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
I have been contributing weather data since early 2005 when I put my weather station online. I am not one bit pleased to hear that Wunderground will be subsumed by TWC. I have enjoyed Wunderground's independence and have enjoyed being a contributor, at least until I received the email yesterday.

I find TWC/NBC push an agenda that I disagree with and cannot in good conscience provide them with my weather data for free--zero cost to them. At some point I will shut down this feed which is the only one in this area and provided solely at my expense because I enjoy it. Whether I self host a weather page or find another site that I feel comfortable contributing to, I have not decided which I will do at this time.

Sadly, I have seen this sort of thing occur too many times to think that Wunderground will retain its former independence as a part of TWC. What I see is another media company thinking they're going to get a bunch of new eyeballs to sell to and a whole bunch of free weather data. Well, from this person they won't.

- Nate
Member Since: January 25, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 1
51. jozarba
1:54 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
Thank you for your time and optimism. These mergers rarely turn out that way ... the job is to maximize profits .. the weather underground family's needs are a distant second consideration. I pray that I am wrong. I am deeply distressed. I saw what happenned to the weather channel. I use to watch it for hours and hours each day .... I haven't watched it in several years now. I know weather channel owners could care less but I, personally, will be looking for alternatives now.
Member Since: August 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
50. hurricanecrab
1:54 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
Appreciate your perspective and assurances, Shaun.

The WUnder community has never been static, and that has both been the source of strife and incredible sharing.

At the risk of sounding like the olde phart who yells "get off my lawn!", I hope that the unique interpersonal aspect of Wunderground doesn't markedly change; most of us -- I would guess -- aren't the type to walk through the gate and then want to lock it behind us, but we are the type to treasure the gem that this site has become. I hope the site doesn't grow suddenly to the point where it seems like all the other mainstream wx-mills.

You all have done and hopefully will continue to do amazing, groundbreaking things. We will continue to assist with the 'crazy'. Just think of us as inspiration, dream fodder, beta busters.

Thanks much for this blog and the space for us to all talk about it.
Member Since: January 20, 2005 Posts: 64 Comments: 9235
49. RyGuy81
12:38 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
I think I am more concerned about this "partnership" than I am excited about it. Yes,all of the normal concerns that the site will change,become more like the 'Weather Channel"...what really concerns me is what interest they may have in regards to regulating or censoring articles or blogs in regard to climate change. After all,the president of the Weather Channel once said in an interview(I believe it was on Fox news,of course)that climate change was not even real. If the president of THE WEATHER CHANNEL denies the undeniable fact that we are now experiencing the beginnings of the long predicted climate change,how much is the company actually interested in weather,as opposed to ratings and profits? It has become clear by the programming that TWC has grown ever more concerned with profits,and has definitely strayed from it's early roots(in my opinion,not for the better). Profits are understandable,but I worry that there may be an agenda. To all who understand the science behind climate change(most members here are intelligent and educated enough),it is obvious that the ones who still push the idea that the science is unsettled and still up for debate have an agenda. The think tanks that produce the anti climate change propaganda are well funded by companies who have a huge financial interest in continuing business as usual. Having heard TWC's president flat out deny climate change,I wonder if they have merged with Wunderground in order to have influence over one of the great voices on the internet that explains the truth about climate,and doesn't worry about upsetting readers who don't buy into the AGW "hoax".I truly hope this site remains the site that I fell in love with. Wunderground is the alternative to TWC. It's like democrats and republicans becoming one party. I will remain optimistic until the site gives me a reason to think otherwise.
Member Since: July 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
48. jackfk
11:01 PM GMT on July 03, 2012
Wow, I have not been a member but I sent the world to Wunderground and it has been my go-to site for a couple of years, especially since Accuweather has gone "lite" and TWC is an absolute joke. I must look at you a half dozen times a day. Sorry Shawn, TWC will destroy you and you will be out doing hurricane watch on some random beach. Can you say corporate?? Goodbye and good luck.
Member Since: July 3, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
47. OrchidGrower
10:32 PM GMT on July 03, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
This is actually a great idea. Let's have TWC for weather jerks and freaks and pple who want to know a little more than the average viewer does. The "shows" could be informative 1/2 hour slots about historical wx events, different aspects of wx and climate, latest breaking news in the weather field, and maybe even a gardening / travel show connected with wx phenomenon.

It would prolly take off and end up as a big hit.


Amen and amen. I have wondered about just such a venture for years. Indeed, I'd like to see something that was more about current weather and forecasts and less about about diversions. Anyone who thinks only a farmer with 20,000 acres cares about what the patterns say and when the drought is likely to break, isn't plugged in too well. And if "somebody" would offer more informative programming, more Americans might learn something and -- Heaven forbid! -- develop new industries, create new jobs, help Americans avoid weather pitfalls and thus save money, and on and on and on....
Member Since: September 24, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 385
46. Patrap
10:19 PM GMT on July 03, 2012
I'm gonna go out a Limb here cus I feel I can express what a lot of us are feeling.


To TWCC


,,please Handle us with care.

We family.

we've been beat up and battered 'round
Been sent up, and we've been shot down
You're the best thing that we've ever found
Handle Us with care

Reputations changeable
Situations tolerable
Baby, you're adorable
Handle Us with care

I'm so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won't you show Us that you really care

Everybody's got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to our's, and dream on

We've been fobbed off, and we've been fooled
We've been robbed and ridiculed
In day care centers and night schools
Handle Us with care

Been stuck in airports, terrorized
Sent to meetings, hypnotized
Overexposed, commercialized
Handle Us with care

I'm so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won't you show Us that you really care

Everybody's got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to our's, and dream on

We've been uptight and made a mess
But we'll clean it up ourselves, I guess
Oh, the sweet smell of success
Handle Us with care



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127559
45. BahaHurican
10:14 PM GMT on July 03, 2012
@ Shaun....

Thanks for posting this. It does at least suggest that all the super Wundergrounders are not "fleeing the sinking ship"... so to speak.... LOL

If you are feeling at least cautiously optimistic, I will compose myself in patience...

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21486

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About shauntanner

Shaun Tanner has been a meteorologist at Weather Underground since 2004.