Maritime risk modelling firm Windward has reportedly gained the backing of Marc Benioff, the CEO of cloud computing firm Salesforce.
The Financial Times reported the Benioff joined a $16.5 million funding round for the company, which was led by XL Innovate, the venture capital arm of insurer XL Group. Tom Hutton (pictured), the managing partner of XL Innovate, will join the Windward board.
The Tel-Aviv, Israel-based firm started in 2010 with a primary focus on finding ships involved in piracy - but it soon branched out to become the first company to model maritime risks. According to the firm, its insights have led to major drug busts; helped curb oil smuggling; and even enabled the United Nations Security Council to discover ships helping North Korea evade sanctions.
It has since started providing services to the marine insurance sector, enabling actuaries to build models to more accurately quantify risk; helping underwriters reduce losses and boost profits; and encouraging fleets to sail more safely.
“There is a tremendous amount of expertise in the insurance market, but risk models are very much based on past claims, the weight of the vessel and the domicile,” said Ami Daniel, co-founder and CEO of Windward, as quoted by the Financial Times. “Insurance companies and governments don’t necessarily want to work with a start-up out of a garage. A big part of getting round the table is being seen as credible.”
Apart from Benioff, other major backers include ex-BP CEO John Browne, who also joined the firm’s board of directors last April. The firm is also backed by former CIA director David Petraeus, and former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer.