Why OpenCorporates? Like most open data/open source projects, it was started (just a couple of months ago), because the founders, Chris Taggart & Rob McKinnon, needed such a resource to exist. Specifically we needed:

  1. an open data base of companies not just in the UK, or in another individual country, but in any country
  2. a way of matching lists of company names to real-world companies (with their company numbers)
  3. a place where the increasingly large amount of open government data relating to companies could be brought together, with all the power that would bring to the community

So, OpenCorporates was created, and while it’s very, very early days, we think we’ve got something that is massively more usable than anything else out there (and did we mention it’s open data too?).

So, without any more delay, let’s take a quick run through the main features. The first place is, reasonably, the home page, where you can search for a company name from the over 3,800,000 companies in the OpenCorporates database

OpenCorporates : The Open Database of the Corporate World

You can also start browsing the database by filtering by jurisdiction (this similar but not the same as country – more on this in a later post), and from there to filtering by company type or status.

The next bit is where it starts to get really interesting, and that’s where we can start to filter based on public data we’ve imported. Let’s say we want to see all the company with Financial Transactions – there’s possibly a better way of expressing this, but these are all the UK central government spending items recently release as part of its drive to open up government. Click on the Financial Transactions filter and you get:

There’s 4955 companies who received a payment from central government. Let’s now see those who received notices from the UK Health & Safety Executive by clicking on the filter to the right:

Then let’s choose an industry classification, say, Fishing, Fish Farming etc. OK that’s just one company. DUCHY OF CORNWALL OYSTER FARM LIMITED, and clicking on that gives us the following screen:

OK. Interesting, but click through onto the transaction, and you get this:

I’ll leave it to the reader to dig out more about that transaction (clue: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=NOMS), but I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty useful starting point.

The second core feature is the ability to matcth company names to real-world companies, complete with company numbers. To do this, we’ve implemented the back end stuff that the awesome Google Refine needs, and here a short screencast will do the job of a thousand words:

It’s worth mentioning one last feature, which is some ways is the most powerful but not at all sexy, and that’s the ability to have a URL for every company in the world (we’ll be adding the ability for the community to add companies soon). Why is this important? Because when we’re talking about companies, it’s difficult to be sure which company we’re talking about. We need universal identifiers for them, and the best are URLs. This means that different people can refer to the same OpenCorporates url (here’s the one for Google Bermuda Limited) and be sure that they’re talking about the same company.

Finally, we’ve got lots of features we’re working on, including a full-blown API, so it’s easy to get the data out and reuse it elsewhere. Watch this space, follow @OpenCorporates on twitter and start exploring.

8 thoughts on “Introducing OpenCorporates: a new way of seeing business

  1. Pingback: Links in, links out: it’s all about the connections | OpenCorporates news

  2. Pingback: OpenCorporates breaks the 10 million mark | OpenCorporates news

  3. Pingback: Now with 1.7 million Spanish companies (& 700,000 Panamanian ones) | OpenCorporates news

  4. Pingback: APIs, why an open licence matters (& another milestone) | OpenCorporates news

  5. How could you not have any listings for NORTH CAROLINA, USA, and PHILLIPS PROPERTIES GROUP, LLC is a 100million dollar real estate company from North Carolina to Thailand.
    We are located in the most prosperous county in the United States and adjacent to the RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK????

    • Yes it is. The financial transaction data was a one-off import, but we’re looking at keeping this up-to-date by partnering with OpenSpending.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s