Chicago-based 640 Labs, a farm data startup, acquired by Monsanto

December 10, 2014
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The Climate Corporation, a division of Monsanto, has just purchased Chicago agricultural startup 640 Labs for an undisclosed amount. 640 Labs produces a hardware device called the 640Drive that captures and organizes data from farm machinery in the cloud and on a mobile app. The Climate Corporation, which has software that tracks climate and soil data, said it expects to launch new products with the 640 Labs team this next year.
 
“Leveraging on-farm data can help farmers maximize yields and optimize natural resource use,” said David Friedberg, CEO of The Climate Corporation in a statement. “Turning that data into valuable tools for farmers requires a combination of top software engineers, statisticians and specialized disciplines, from agronomists to climatologists. The 640 Labs team brings a combination of engineering and agricultural expertise that will complement and enhance the capabilities of our existing team.”
 

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Downtown Chicago-based 640 Labs was founded by Corbett Kull and Craig Rupp in January 2013 and had raised $3.1 million from Serra Investors. Though the sale price to The Climate Corporation was not disclosed Serra Investors said on their website that their internal rate of return was over 500 percent. The Climate Corporation will maintain 640 Labs' Chicago office.
 
The Climate Corporation has software that tracks weather, soil and crop data at the field level. Farmers can use the software to plan, take notes and track the production of their crops and the software even advises them on planting, pests, disease and soil conditions.
 
640 Lab's 640Device plugs into and transmits data to the cloud from farm machinery like tractors and combines. It comes with a mobile app that visualizes the data showing how land is being farmed in real-time. The data can be stored for years in the cloud allowing farmers to make historical comparisons and to measure land usage for future crop planning. It is not clear if 640 Labs’ 640Device will continue on within the Climate Corporation or if its technology will be reapplied; the acquisition announcement emphasized the 640 Labs team without mentioning the future of their product. 
 
“We share The Climate Corporation’s vision of providing seamless data solutions for farmers,” said 640 Labs co-founder Corbett Kull. “We’re very happy to be joining an organization that is leading the development of unique data science solutions for farmers.”
 
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