For the past two decades, commodity trading has been at the center of my life. Whether it was working at Mitsubishi International Corporation, starting the physical metals desk at Goldman Sachs, or co-founding Concord Resources Limited with people I consider some of my closest friends, trading has provided me with no lack of excitement, stress and fulfillment.
I have always felt that as a trader, I was on the frontlines of the economy: buying, shipping, and distributing raw materials that our customers used to make the very things that power all of our lives. The teams I worked with developed new trade flows of metal as global trade boomed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, stockpiled millions of tons of aluminum during the global financial crisis when manufacturing collapsed, rode the commodity “supercycle” through the 2000s, and developed export markets for US copper into Asia and Mexico.
As we surfed wave after economic wave in the commodities industry, many of us asked the question: why we are still buying and selling today pretty much the same way we did 20 years ago? We find ourselves increasingly frustrated by how manual and inefficient the trading and transport of physical commodities continues to be. While commodity trading is one of oldest professions in the world, our industry has yet to benefit from the advances in technology that we’ve experienced in our daily lives. How can it be that I can easily buy and track a pair of shoes online, but I have to call and email around to arrange for the pickup of hundeds of thousands of dollars worth of copper and hope that the metal arrives to its final destination? The commodities industry is clearly ripe for technological innovation.
Over the past few years, we have begun to see a myriad of tech companies emerge in the space. But only Cmdty truly has the ingredients needed to drive transformation in the scope and scale that the industry needs: a unique combination of experts from tech, commodities trading, and logistics. Together, our mission is to create technology to streamline the physical commodities supply chain and to dramatically improve the way that physical commodities are traded, transacted and transported.
I first met Brian O’Kelley 12 years ago after he had just founded AppNexus. Brian and his team developed innovations in digital advertising that have changed the way we all see information and how we all use the internet. When I caught up with Brian earlier this year after he had sold AppNexus (by then a 1200 person company with 23 offices around the world) to AT&T, we began to explore how some of his experience in building tech around digital marketplaces and supply chains might be applicable to the complex commodity markets. After much discussion, we decided that in fact we could bring together a team of people that could transform the way commodities are traded and transported globally, could help producers, traders and consumers interact more efficiently, and ultimately help everyone in the markets make more money. One of the first people I thought of as another co-founder was Andrea Aranguren, whom I had worked with at Goldman. Andrea had joined our physical metals logistics group at a moment of rapid growth and stress. Her intelligence, drive and expertise in logistics and operations quickly made her a core asset for the trading team. Since Goldman, Andrea had not only built and optimized supply chains for two startups, but was a leader on an AI-based document digitization product for IHS Markit.
I am thrilled to bring my expertise in trading, and my relationships with producers, fabricators, traders, funds and banks to the Cmdty team. I look forward to engaging with old friends and new to create lasting strategic partnerships for Cmdty Inc.