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Without making waves, data start-up CargoMetrics is collecting info about what gets shipped where

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 10, 2012 08:36 AM

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How secretive are the folks over at CargoMetrics?

When co-founder Scott Borgerson showed up at a VC mixer at Quincy Market last month, his name tag read just "Scott." No company affiliation. When I tried to confirm with him afterward that he'd been at the party, his response was: "Maybe."

His investors at the Boston office of Summerhill Venture Partners wouldn't tell me who made the investment in CargoMetrics, when it was made, or how much they invested. "It benefits the company to be in stealth mode right now," e-mailed Summerhill partner Will Kohler.

But the company has been hiring steadily in Boston, and LinkedIn currently lists a dozen employees, including co-founder Rockford Weitz. (Both Weitz and Borgerson are Fletcher School alums, and fellows at the Gloucester-based Institute for Global Maritime Studies.)

So what is the company up to? CargoMetrics is collecting data about the movement of commodities by ship, and selling that data to hedge funds. (Ships report on their location through tracking systems like AIS, but CargoMetrics seems to be combining that with information about what's on board.) According to a job posting, the company "has developed a groundbreaking analytics platform which offers comprehensive, dynamic information on the movement of the global supply of the world’s commodities." Useful if you're trying to make a profit buying or selling commodities futures.

Borgerson (pictured at right) is former Coast Guard officer, and was the founding director of the Coast Guard Academy's Institute for Leadership. He's also an expert on Arctic shipping.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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