Weather company sold to Francisco Partners – The Hollywood Reporter

The Weather Company has found new ownership in private equity.

IBM, which has owned The Weather Channel’s digital products and brands like Weather Underground since 2016, has sold the assets to investment firm Francisco Partners, the companies said Tuesday. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close early next year.

The sale marks the end of seven years at the tech giant for The Weather Company, which originally bought the assets as part of a plan to bundle its data offerings and build its Watson Internet of Things unit. However, it now no longer views the asset as part of its core offering. “Over the past few years, we have grown IBM into a hybrid cloud and AI company,” said Rob Thomas, senior vice president of software and chief commercial officer at IBM, in announcing the sale.

Before IBM, Weather was owned by a group of private equity firms, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital, along with Comcast’s NBCUniversal. This group of companies acquired Weather Brands in 2008 from Landmark Communications in a deal valued at a reported $3.5 billion.

The digital assets — including the Weather Channel app and the main Weather dot com site, which were acquired by Francisco Partners — are separate from the TV brand. This linear television network, The Weather Channel, was sold by Blackstone, Bain and NBCUniversal to media mogul Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios in 2018 for about $300 million. (Upon the sale, the TV brand licensed data from IBM’s Weather assets under what was described as a long-term contract. Allen now includes the channel as part of its Weather Group assets, which also include local news app LocalNow, climate platform Pattrn and Channel Weather in Spanish.)

With The Weather Company’s digital assets, Francisco Partners appears to want to grow the brand’s content footprint with advertising in mind. Leading weather dot com is among the most visited sites in the United States, ranked No. 1 in the Science and Education category, and had more than 1.3 billion total visits (varies for number of visitors) in July, according to software company Same Web. “With increased investment and resources from Francisco Partners, The Weather Company will look to go beyond just forecasting and deliver new tools and experiences for users to help them understand how weather impacts all aspects of their lives, from health to well-being.” The release of the transaction indicated.

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