Interview with David Kenny, Chairman and CEO of The Weather Company

January 15, 2014

David KennyDavid Kenny is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Weather Company. An experienced executive with a strong record in the media and digital industries, Kenny oversees the company’s valuable portfolio of consumer and business-to-business weather brands and businesses including The Weather Channel, weather.com, wunderground.com, intellicast.com and WSI. Kenny assumed this role in January 2012 after serving as president of Akamai, the leading cloud platform designed to help enterprises provide secure, high-performing user experiences to mobile and fixed internet users.

1. Congratulations on the name change. What’s behind that?

Becoming The Weather Company was recognition that we are more than a television network or provider of smartphone and tablet apps. Along with weather.com, we have other consumer products and brands like Intellicast, Weather Underground and WSI, our professional division. Through WSI, we deliver forecasts to 85% of U.S. airlines, forecasts and tools to media outlets across the country, and vital business moving weather data to companies in industries such as insurance and energy. The Weather Company represents the larger structure operating all of those assets.

2. This business seems to be in a – forgive me – ‘perfect storm’ convergence of content, big data and new revenue streams. Are you in a unique niche, or will see other media companies making similar shifts?

I do believe we are unique. At our core, we’re a science and data company – science and data is at the core of everything we do, whether it’s creating weather forecasts or leveraging data to connect advertisers with our audience with contextually relevant messages. But yes, we’re a media company, a content publisher, app developer, and television programmer. However, because weather literally affects everyone, everything and every business, no one else has that connection to people’s lives like we do. Many people like sports, but everyone needs to know what the weather’s going to be like to know how to plan their day – what to wear, where to go, what to do, even what to eat. It’s a unique and fantastic position to be in.

3. So you’re adding to the television content, not walking away from it?

Television has and always will be a cornerstone of our business. It’s a terrific medium to help us do what we do best — be an indispensable resource keeping people safe and prepared. Investing in television is an acknowledgement of that importance and recognition that while people may want to consume weather in different ways, they still have a tremendous interest in the expertise only our network can provide and in the spectacular stories that can be told about all aspects of weather.

4. You know agencies well – how can they adapt to these kinds of revenue shifts?

Agencies can and will adapt by having an understanding of where consumers want to consume content and when and where they are most receptive to ad messages. We are working with our agency partners to develop products that enable that connection.

5. Anything else cool you’re working on?

Yes, WeatherFX is the division we launched last year that uses weather analytics, weather triggering and dynamic messaging to connect businesses to consumers through weather and climate. For every weather condition, The Weather Company has the data to deliver a contextually relevant message to any audience at the right time and place. Examples include showing a Florida tourism ad to consumers in snowy Chicago or a soup ad for regions being hit by a blizzard. In addition, we are enabling marketers to match our historical weather data with their historical sales data to help them better plan their marketing spend.

As a Senior Partner, CEO of Ketchum’s European operations and Chairman of the London office, David Gallagher brings more than 20 years of public relations experience, both as a client and as a senior agency adviser, to some of the world’s leading brands and companies. Interested in PR, politics, Texas Longhorns and life with two labradoodles. Follow him on Twitter @TBoneGallagher.