We live in a corporate world – companies are involved with everything we do, yet the disparity between the availability of personal and company information is striking. We see the timeline of significant (and not so significant) events of our friends in social network feeds every day. Yet it’s extraordinarily difficult to do the same for the companies that we work for, buy from, do business with, help craft our laws via lobbying, and generally influence our lives in multiple ways.
That’s why OpenCorporates is creating a corporate events dataset, as part of the EU Business Graph project – to ensure that cross-border and cross-lingual data on corporate events is more readily available and accessible for all. Without more information about what is happening to the companies we work for, with, and compete against, it’s impossible to make responsible, informed decisions. This lack of information also creates friction for regulatory bodies, law enforcement and civil society investigating wrongdoing, facilitating the use of companies as vehicles for corruption, money laundering and organised crime.
What are Corporate events?
Events are critical moments in the life cycle of a company, including incorporation, dissolution, changes in structure, liquidation, mergers, winding up orders, annual general meetings and director actions. Yet, despite the obvious importance of these – both for society and business, they are extraordinarily difficult to find, particularly in a standardized form over multiple jurisdictions. Sometimes they need to be inferred from changes to the official record at company registers; other times they must be extracted from government gazettes (aka official journals) – archaic publications whose precise purpose is the publication of announcements by governments and companies.
Unfortunately gazettes were designed for a pre-digital age, and are difficult to work with in their native form, as they are frequently pdf or html, usually as unstructured text.
About the Data
As part of the BusinessGraph project, OpenCorporates is creating a corporate events product that will:
- Create a common model and schema for corporate events
- Extract corporate events from changes in the official data at company registers
- Infer events from government gazettes
- Make this available both through the OpenCorporates website and as structured data via the API and bulk data dumps
This will provide greater visibility of internal events, including:
- Incorporation and dissolution of companies
- Changes in core attributes (including name, registered address, company type, industry codes)
- Significant credit events (including company status, winding up orders, appointment of liquidators and changes in status on company registers)
- Changes in leadership and directors
- Changes in corporate structure (shareholders, increase in share capital and changing subsidiaries and parents)
- Changes in licences and permissions
- Announcements and filings, including annual accounts and annual returns
- Useful metadata around the events (for example a company failing to file a return on time)
By increasing the visibility of company events, we’ll be able to provide a clearer image of what is actually happening on the ground inside a company. Making the information about events structured, searchable, and linking it to the companies it relates to is useful for a number of industries, including suppliers, customers, sales and marketing.
However, most importantly we think opening up data on corporate events is vital to provide greater accountability and transparency in the corporate world. To stay true to our style, OpenCorporates will ensure that fully provenanced data about events will be made available under an open licence for public-benefit use cases, including journalists, academics, NGOs and citizens.