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One Concern Raises $15M, Expands Business to Japan

After acquiring the AI company Datmo in January, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has a multi-year agreement with Japan’s second-largest property insurer to sell in Japan and to the private sector.

earthquake road damage
Shutterstock/Naypong Studio
The disaster solutions company One Concern, whose SaaS products use artificial intelligence to predict damage from natural disasters, is expanding to Japan with $15 million in new funding from the insurance company SOMPO Holdings.

According to a news release on Aug. 31, One Concern’s multi-year agreement will allow it to expand into new geographic territory in Japan and start selling to private industry customers. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company was founded in 2015 and has raised almost $75 million to date, following a $37 million round last year led by NEA and Sozo Ventures.

One Concern bought the AI company Datmo in January this year, not for its product but for its talent, who were brought on to lead One Concern’s solutions and data science teams.

One Concern’s work with AI so far has been about helping governments mitigate damage from natural disasters, with its initial offerings focused on floods and earthquakes. The company creates highly detailed digital models of cities by pulling data about streets and structures from various proprietary and open sources around the world, including governments, insurance companies, satellites or even crowdsourcing. By running a model through a simulation with certain criteria — for instance, showing potential impacts on the local health-care system — the AI can generate detailed information about which physical structures will be damaged, if and where power will go out, who will be affected and so forth.

As per a New York Times story last year, some government officials, technologists and seismologists have expressed concerns that the company exaggerated or misrepresented what its software can do. The Times reported in August 2019 that One Concern had secured contracts with Arizona, Pennsylvania and the World Bank, while San Francisco had ended its contract and Los Angeles allowed its deal with One Concern to expire.

SOMPO Holdings has also established a financial relationship with another American tech company, Palantir, which is in the process of going public.

In a Medium post, One Concern described a pilot project in Kumamoto, Japan — backed by SOMPO — to map every waterway in and around the city, and then recommend ways to mitigate damage in the event of floods. With SOMPO Holdings, Japan’s second-largest property insurer, as a strategic partner, One Concern is billing what it calls resilience-as-a-service as a “must-have” for cities in the face of climate change.

“The world wakes up each day facing an uncertain future — whether it’s the current global pandemic, California wildfires, or twin tropical storms in the Caribbean,” said Ahmad Wani, One Concern’s CEO and co-founder, in the statement. “Reducing that uncertainty to build lasting resilience is at the heart of what One Concern does.”

Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.