IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna appears on a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 17, 2023.
Stefan Wermuth | Bloomberg | Getty Images
IBM will sell The Weather Company and its assets to Francisco Partners, a tech-focused private equity firm, for an undisclosed sum. The deal, which is expected to close by April, also includes the weather unit’s forecasting science and tech platform, as well as enterprise data services for the broadcast, media, aviation and ad tech industries. Francisco Partners plans to pivot part of the weather business to be more consumer-facing, adding new tools for users related to health and well-being, per the announcement.
As part of the deal, IBM will retain access to the company’s weather data, which it uses to power some of the artificial intelligence models it sells to enterprise clients. That system, which is also trained on NASA’s satellite data, is geared toward parsing ESG data and climate analysis such as natural disaster monitoring.
IBM paid $2 billion for the company in 2016 and has reportedly been exploring a sale since at least April, as it seeks to streamline its business. The company said its weather unit serves an average of 415 million people monthly, and reports in April estimated the coming deal to be valued at more than $1 billion.
The sale aligns with IBM’s strategy shift, as the company narrows its focus to key drivers such as software, cloud services and AI.
One of those bets is Watsonx, the enterprise AI development tool IBM announced in May that’s slated to debut in the third quarter. The company’s goal is to take the lead in user-friendly AI development for businesses, in part because of the massive demand for, and shortage of, human talent in the AI field. The platform includes a feature for AI-generated code, an AI governance toolkit, and a library of thousands of large-scale AI models, trained on language, geospatial data, IT events and The Weather Company’s weather data, which IBM will continue to use.