Norman weather company enjoys fair winds
by Daphne Thompson, on Aug 31, 2010 4:28:19 AM
From Mark Twain to Will Rogers to today's multitaskers on mobile devices, human beings love to talk and hear about the weather.
Last year, nearly 40 percent of iPhone users reported weather applications as one of the three application types they used most frequently.
Weather Decision Technologies (WDT), based in Norman, has become a global leader in taking monstrous amounts of data from a huge number of sources, enhancing it and providing dynamic Web-based and mobile solutions to weather services, individual customers and the world's leading media companies.
The company has weather content and interactive weather maps on more than 700 local media (television, radio and newspaper) Web sites. They also offer more than 25 iPhone weather applications and have iPad and Droid applications in the works.
"We build a very nice Internet and mobile framework for local television meteorologists to customize with their own look and feel and then market those applications," says Mike Eilts, president and CEO. "More than 200 meteorologists across the country will be marketing WDT-based weather applications by the end of the year."
Founded in 2000, the company obtained investment capital from Oklahoma investors, licensed technology from the University of Oklahoma to get started and resides in the Three Partners Place office building on the OU University Research Campus. The company also has offices in Georgia and Washington, D.C.
"We've gone from five guys in a garage to a 70 employee company," Eilts said. "Our average salary is 3.5 times the average salary in Cleveland County. We've figured out that the economic value added to Norman over the last 10 years from our business is about $130 million."
Fourteen of the 15 weather companies in the United States use some component of WDT's technology. Most of the company's revenue comes into Oklahoma from other countries and other states.
"We are part of a connected world," Eilts says. "We want to put weather out across all available screens — television, Internet, mobile devices, and beyond. We are currently working on an application for a tornado warning in a home security panel."
The business is a case study in how just one advanced technology company puts wind in the sails of Oklahoma's innovation economy. Imagine the hurricane force of a dozen more.
Tom Walker is president and CEO of i2E, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact him at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.