Timeline: Our journey opening up company data for all (so far!)

For over 10 years, OpenCorporates has defined the landscape for open company data. We have become the leading authority on how to achieve corporate transparency through data and have built an unrivalled data platform relied upon by hundreds of organisations – along with millions of individual users.

That’s why governments, international organisations and other influential actors often consult us to learn best practice when creating company datasets that are open and highly-usable.

But not only that, we’ve successfully extolled the benefits of corporate transparency for creating a more trusted business environment and a healthy society – and successfully pushed for registries to open up their company data for all to access.

This timeline tells the story of OpenCorporates’ efforts (so far!) to create a world in which official company data is open and transparent. 

We’ve had major wins along the way, from UK Companies House becoming fully open in 2014 to more recently the US state of Illinois overturning restrictive usage terms and committing to open up access to its company data.

But our work is far from done. Milestones like the ones below are central to our mission to bring about genuine corporate transparency through opening up access to company data. We’ll work harder than ever to become the world’s definitive source for company data so everybody benefits.

Timeline of OpenCorporates’ key milestones

  • OpenCorporates launches with data on 3 million companies from 3 jurisdictions.
    (December 2010)

  • The OpenCorporates API is launched – providing users with programmatic access to our data. Today, hundreds of organisations rely on the API to power critical business processes. 
    (December 2011)

  • Director & officer data is added to OpenCorporates.
    (March 2012)

  • Data coverage in OpenCorporates reaches 50 million companies.
    (January 2013)

  • Open Company Data Index launched by OpenCorporates in partnership with the World Bank, measuring access to company data around the world.
    (June 2013)

  • Corporate network data is added to OpenCorporates.
    (July 2013)

  • Chris Taggart, our Founder, joins the inaugural Board of Directors of GLEIF – the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation, set up by the Financial Stability Board to oversee the use of the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) and promote transparency in the financial industry.
    (June 2014)

  • Companies House goes open: the UK company register announces that it will make its database fully available as open ­data – after years of lobbying by OpenCorporates.
    (July 2014)

  • OpenOil collaborates with OpenCorporates to map the corporate network of BP using their public filings to show how complex corporations in this space are – finding 12 layers of approximately 1,200 companies across 84 jurisdictions.
    (September 2014)

  • Launched ‘Who Controls It’: an open-source, proof-of-concept, “alpha-version” beneficial ownership register which helps visualise and submit chains of controls for companies.
    (December 2014)

  • Open Data Business award: OpenCorporates receives the Open Data Business award at the Open Data Awards – organised by the Open Data Institute and presented by Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web – no less!
    (July 2015)

  • B20 Anti-Corruption Working Group: our Founder plays an active role in discussions on beneficial ownership.
    (July 2015)

  • Global Witness uses our data to investigate corruption and uncover the powerful elite benefiting from Myanmar’s multi-billion dollar jade industry.
    (October 2015)

  • Omidyar Network features OpenCorporates in a landmark report on the impact of open data in the UK – highlighting our work in the successful campaign for a public beneficial ownership register.
    (November 2015)

  • Panama Papers: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) publishes the Panama Papers investigation, highlighting the use of complex offshore shell companies – having used OpenCorporates as foundational data to clean up and match leaked information
    (April 2016)

  • OpenCorporates launches a Global Beneficial Ownership Register with a coalition of international organisations, including Global Witness, Open Contracting Partnership, The B Team, The Web Foundation and Transparency International. This later becomes Open Ownership.
    (April 2016)

  • OpenCorporates publishes a report on the state of open access to company data in Open Government Partnership (OGP) countries on the eve of the OGP meeting in Brazilia – kicking off a wider campaign for open company data.
    (April 2016)

  • Data coverage in OpenCorporates reaches 100 million companies.
    (May 2016)

  • The UK launches its People With Significant Control (PSC) Register, its register of the beneficial owners of companies. OpenCorporates advised on best practice and the benefits of an open beneficial ownership register, along with other civil society organisations.
    (June 2016)

  • Open Banking Working Group: our Founder sits on the steering committee.
    (2016)

  • OpenCorporates serves legal papers to the Quebec company register in Canada to ensure that Quebec company data we hold can stay openly available for all to access.
    (April 2017)

  • Transparency International and Reuters use OpenCorporates’ data to publish a report illustrating that property in London is a particular target for those looking to launder the proceeds of corruption.
    (April 2017)

  • Launch Open Ownership: the global beneficial ownership register – a joint project between OpenCorporates, The Web Foundation, Global Witness, Transparency International, The B Team and OpenContracting.
    (April 2017)

  • Data coverage in OpenCorporates reaches 150 million companies.
    (July 2018)

  • OpenCorporates responds to a consultation on the EU Company law directive regarding digital solutions and the providing of efficient rules for cross border operations of companies.
    (July 2018)

  • Fireflies & algorithms: The coming explosion of companies white paper published, highlighting the need for open company data to understand the impending explosion of company formations. 
    (October 2018)

  • OpenCorporates recognised as a Digital Pioneer in a special report from the Financial Times highlighting organisations tackling new challenges presented by digitalisation. 
    (November 2018)

  • German data added as 130th jurisdiction in OpenCorporates: as part of a wider campaign with Transparency International Deutschland, Open Knowledge Germany and a group of journalists from Süddeutsche Zeitung and other outlets to launch a number of stories using the data.
    (February 2019)

  • OpenCorporates supports the OCCRP by signing a memorandum of understanding which sees our data power the Organised Crime & Corruption Reporting Project’s anti-corruption investigations.
    (February 2019)

  • Launch report on the transparent company data revolution featuring interviews with experts from Cloudera, Deutsche Bank and others. 
    (May 2019)

  • UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill publishes its recommendations on the bill, having accepted many of the recommendations OpenCorporates made in consultations and in our response to the draft bill – as well as recommendations we made in common with anti-corruption NGOs such as Global Witness.
    (May 2019)

  • We win in court: OpenCorporates wins the court battle against the Quebec company register, thereby protecting open access to the data we hold from their registry.
    (September 2019)

  • Publish research on the poor state of access to US company data outlining how this harms the business environment and efforts to crack down on financial crime.
    (January 2020)

  • OECD Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum – OpenCorporates appointed as a knowledge partner & present a workshop alongside the Executive Secretary of FATF: the forum leads the policy debate on integrity and anti-corruption, bringing together leaders from the public and private sectors from over 130 countries. Chris Taggart, our Founder, discussed the future of company formation and the challenges this poses for combating money laundering with the Executive Secretary of the Financial Action Task Force at the time, David Lewis.
    Watch video >
    (March 2020)

  • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): OpenCorporates collaborates with the FCA on Covid-related fraud prevention – by providing access to our data about UK companies via API and as Bulk Data.
    (September 2020)

  • OpenCorporates advises the EU on drafting of the Open Data Directive: which promises to open up access to company registers in the single market. OpenCorporates participated in workshops and consultations, aided civil society on this critical issue and published a report on the state of access to EU company data showing that many key policy issues, including recovering from the pandemic, were being undermined by poor access to company data in the EU.
    (2020)

  • Operating Board created: OpenCorporates’ Operating Board is established with Oliver Ratzesberger, former Teradata CEO, as Chair – and later joined by Julia Apostle, former Twitter and FT lawyer, and Alessia Falsarone, sustainable finance expert, as non-executive directors.
    (October 2020)

  • Paycheck Protection Programme fraud: The Miami Herald uses our data to expose alleged exploitation of the US Covid-19 relief fund.
    (October 2020)

  • The OECD adds OpenCorporates’ identifier data to their Analytical Database on Individual Multinationals and Affiliates (ADIMA) – which contains profile information, including subsidiaries and websites, for the world’s 500 largest multinational entities (MNEs) to power a knowledge graph helping it analyse multinational enterprises.
    (October 2020)

  • Cullen Commission in Canada: Chris Taggart, our Founder, gives evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia (Cullen Commission), highlighting the common abuse of legal entities to enable money laundering.
    (November 2020)

  • Illinois opens up its company data: After being highlighted by OpenCorporates’ report on the poor state of open access to company data in the US, Illinois changes the law to remove previously restrictive T&Cs and make its company register openly available from 2022.
    (July 2021)

  • Pandora Papers: the ICIJ uses OpenCorporates’ data to support the largest investigation in journalism history into the offshore financial system.
    (October 2021)

  • Data coverage in OpenCorporates reaches 200 million companies. 
    (October 2021)

  • The Times publishes a front-page article about allegedly fraudulent claims to the UK’s Covid-related business relief scheme – drawing on OpenCorporates’ data.
    (November 2021)

  • OpenCorporates is named one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in a report published by the Financial Times.
    (March 2022)

  • DUNS Number replaced: The US federal government officially replaces the DUNS number with the UEI to uniquely identify companies they contract with.  
    (April 2022)

  • Legislative Briefing on New York’s LLC Transparency Act: OpenCorporates’ Chief Impact Officer lends insight to the briefing, outlining the benefits of beneficial ownership registers to business & society.
    (May 2022)

  • EU’s Open Data Directive: OpenCorporates makes the case for why company and company ownership data should be made openly available across the EU – as part of a response to a consultation on the Implementing Act of the EU’s Open Data Directive.
    (June 2022)

  • Register of Overseas Entities: is launched to help deter the abuse of the UK property market as a destination to launder the proceeds of crime. OpenCorporates provides consultation feedback to the design of the openly available register of the overseas companies that own property in the UK – and OpenCorporates’ Chief Impact Officer is quoted in the government press release upon its launch. 
    (August 2022)

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