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Khosla Ventures Invests in AI-Powered Weather Balloon Startup Windborne

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 7, 2024
Khosla Ventures Invests in AI-Powered Weather Balloon Startup Windborne

Khosla Ventures Invests in AI-Powered Weather Balloon Startup Windborne

Windborne, a California-based startup, has secured a $15 million investment led by Khosla Ventures. This funding is aimed at enhancing the startup’s pioneering use of AI and weather balloons to improve weather forecasting accuracy.

The investment arrives as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history, emphasizing the growing necessity for reliable weather predictions.

How Windborne Differ From Others

Windborne is distinguishing itself in an increasingly competitive market, where established players like Tomorrow.io and Google DeepMind, alongside newcomers, are leveraging new technologies to track and analyze weather patterns more effectively.

Windborne’s innovative approach involves a new type of weather balloon that can remain airborne for weeks, unlike traditional government-launched balloons that are limited to a few hours of flight. This capability allows for the collection of extensive meteorological data across large and remote areas, including oceans.

John Dean, CEO and co-founder of Windborne, stated, “We operate the most comprehensive balloon constellation on the planet. We also do AI-based weather modeling. And so our mission is to mitigate the most disruptive aspects of climate change.” According to Dean, the extended flight duration of their balloons enables the company to gather 40 to 50 times more data per balloon. This is achieved through launches from accessible sites, which then allow the balloons to travel over oceans and collect crucial weather data as needed.

The balloons are equipped with satellite communication technologies, facilitating real-time data transmission. With the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reporting that 85% of the atmosphere is currently under-monitored, Windborne’s technology aims to significantly reduce this gap, using fewer balloons to achieve comprehensive global coverage.

Market Potential for Windborne

Sven Strohband, partner and managing director at Khosla Ventures, highlighted the market’s potential, stating, “It’s about a $100 billion market now, and it touches pretty much every industry.” He further noted the lack of significant innovation in weather forecasting since the emergence of the Weather Company in the 1990s, presenting a ripe opportunity for disruption.

The funding round’s success reflects heightened interest and demand for detailed weather data from both governmental bodies and large corporations. This aligns with the World Economic Forum’s recent assertions that extreme weather and uncertainty pose the most substantial risks to global businesses over the next decade. Windborne claims its technology could enhance forecasting accuracy to the point where a two-week forecast could be as reliable as a current two-day forecast.

In addition to Khosla Ventures, Windborne’s funding has been bolstered by contributions from Footwork VC, Pear VC, Convective Capital, Ubiquity Ventures, and Susa Ventures, bringing the total raised to $25 million to date.


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Featured image was created with the assistance of DALL·E by ChatGPT

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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