David Friedberg is a lifelong vegetarian. He was president of his high school’s “Healing Our Planet Earth” club. He’s a major investor in a restaurant chain that serves only bowls of quinoa. The 35-year-old software designer is also an unapologetic advocate of Monsanto, which bought his start-up, The Climate Corporation, in 2013 for a cool $1 billion.
In the two-plus years since the Monsanto acquisition, Friedberg has more than doubled the size of his business. His employees, now numbering more than 500, build software tools that crunch massive amounts of data on weather and farming conditions, helping farmers to manage the risks of weather volatility, and to make decisions about virtually all aspects of their operations — from how much fertilizer they should apply to what seeds they should plant and when. A year ago, Friedberg’s software tools were used on 50 million acres of U.S. farmland; today they’re used on 75 million acres — nearly half of all corn and soybean acres planted in the U.S.
I visited Friedberg recently at his San Francisco headquarters to find out how and why this controversial wunderkind is bringing high-tech environmental software to one ... Read more