March 22, 2004

More on Private Company Research

Thanks to research wunderkinds Marissa Andrea and Cindy Alfieri of Agilent Technologies, below are more resources regarding private companies (it’s a follow-up to my March 5th blog – all of which is now part of the our new “Private Company Research” Practice Area):

Subscription-Based Services

1. VentureSource and VentureExpert – These are Venture Capital databases that monitor private start-up activity. The focus is finally moving beyond US-centric and there are several deals involving Canadian, Israeli and European startups now.

2. ORBIS – This database searches private and public European company info. The information reported is coming from mandatory government filings (whether you’re a private or not – it’s a European requirement), rather than as information that companies voluntarily submit. There are about 5 million companies from Europe profiled, 110,000 from Japan, 1.4 million from the US. There is a product in ORBIS called Zephyr that you can use for M&A information.

3. DataStarWeb (Dialog, a Thomson company) – This database is heavy with European company information. It’s very strong in pharma/biotech but contains industry information across the board.

4. Dun & Bradstreet – If a company report is not available on the D&B database, one can be requested for a fee. Although, since D&B obtains some of its information by phoning the company with a questionnaire – but the information is only as accurate or complete as what the private company is willing to disclose. Other D&B information is gathered from what is available in public records: Secretary of State Filings, UCC, liens, and so on.

Free Information

1. BRB Publications – BRB Publications is well known in the public records retrieval industry and has gathered links to state and county sites containing public records data. Often, when you are unable to find anything at all on a private company, at the very least you should be able to uncover a Secretary of State or other public filing that can confirm basic information about the company (for example, when and where the company incorporated).

2. US Patent & Trademark Office – If intellectual property is your main concern, checking the USPTO’s free databases will reveal a private company’s patents/trademarks, if any.

3. Wayback Machine – What if the private company no longer exists, but you still need information? Try the Wayback machine! If the company had a website and if the Wayback Machine captured it, you might be able to get some basic information about the company.

4. Regional Newspapers – You can find out a lot of information about a private company by looking at regional newspapers where the company is either headquartered or residing as a subsidiary.

5. Free Lists from Top Business Magazines – Top company lists are a good source of private company data. These lists are usually revised each autumn and list by rank and in alpha order. See Forbes – The 500 Top Private Companies; INC. 500 – The Fastest Growing (Private) Companies in America; RobMagazine – Top 300 Private Canadian Companies; and Red Herring Magazine – Red Herring Top 100 Private Companies Reshaping Business.

Don’t Forget to Ask Yourself – Is It Really a Private Company? Some companies masquerade as privates but are really subsidiaries of a public company, so you should check the Directory of Corporate Affiliations. If it is a subsidiary of a public company, check the parent’s annual report for additional references to the subsidiary.