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The Closed World Of Company Data

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This presentation was first given at the World Bank, April 25, 2012. A version was also given at Transparency Camp 2012. The World Bank presentation was also webcast and a recording is available at: A …

This presentation was first given at the World Bank, April 25, 2012. A version was also given at Transparency Camp 2012. The World Bank presentation was also webcast and a recording is available at: A recording of the webcast of the World Bank presentation is at http://bit.ly/ocdw

Published in: News & Politics, Business

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  • OpenCorporates is a great concept, which can become a global reference ‘business-media.’ Unlike the Popularity driver of social-media, appears to emphasize Corporate Integrity, which is less popular. It may need a value awareness campaign: to overcome any initial inertia; to ramp-up the subscriptions, to reach a mainstream threshold, ASAP.
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  • Transcript

    • 1. The closed world ofcompany data And why we need to open it up
    • 2. We live in a corporate world ...but much of it is invisible to us (citizens, journalists, NGOs, regulators, governments, SMEs, etc...)
    • 3. Companies nolonger look like this
    • 4. Companies nolonger look like this
    • 5. Companies nolonger look like this nor even like this
    • 6. Butlikethis
    • 7. Butlikethis or like this
    • 8. Butlikethis or like this
    • 9. And they are more complexby the day
    • 10. And they are more complexby the dayGrowing in scale – not 10s of legal entities but 1000s
    • 11. And they are more complexby the dayGrowing in scale – not 10s of legal entities but 1000sGrowing in speed – we are seeing the beginnings ofhigh-frequency company formation
    • 12. And they are more complexby the dayGrowing in scale – not 10s of legal entities but 1000sGrowing in speed – we are seeing the beginnings ofhigh-frequency company formationGrowing in opacity – use of secrecy jurisdictions andoff-register entities to provide firewalls to tax, regulation,information
    • 13. And they are more complexby the dayGrowing in scale – not 10s of legal entities but 1000sGrowing in speed – we are seeing the beginnings ofhigh-frequency company formationGrowing in opacity – use of secrecy jurisdictions andoff-register entities to provide firewalls to tax, regulation,informationGrowing in complexity – not a hierarchy but a complex,sometimes even circular network of entities
    • 14. Getting the data matters In the 21st century, data is power We’ve always been governed by data, now our lives are data Huge asymmetry of access to public data Sold and collected to enrich global proprietary databases, denied to citizens
    • 15. Information is the currencyof democracy Thomas Jefferson
    • 16. ATA is the currencyInformation Dof democracy Thomas Jefferson
    • 17. This mattersNo understanding = no control
    • 18. This mattersNo understanding = no control Leads to systematic problems – Lehman’s, pollution exporting, market failures, etc
    • 19. This mattersNo understanding = no control Leads to systematic problems – Lehman’s, pollution exporting, market failures, etc Reduces accountability and corporate governance. Enables and encourages companies to behave like bad corporate citizens
    • 20. This mattersNo understanding = no control Leads to systematic problems – Lehman’s, pollution exporting, market failures, etc Reduces accountability and corporate governance. Enables and encourages companies to behave like bad corporate citizens Enables of money laundering, organised crime and corruption (see World Bank Puppet Masters report)
    • 21. This mattersNo understanding = no control Leads to systematic problems – Lehman’s, pollution exporting, market failures, etc Reduces accountability and corporate governance. Enables and encourages companies to behave like bad corporate citizens Enables of money laundering, organised crime and corruption (see World Bank Puppet Masters report) Remember, companies are artificial entities given legal personality by the state for the good of society
    • 22. ...as recognised by the OpenGovernment Partnership5 Grand Goals1.Improving Public Services2.Increasing Public Integrity3.More Effectively Managing Public Resources4.Creating Safer Communities5.Increasing Corporate Accountability 
    • 23. So how do the OGPcountries score for access to company data?
    • 24. So how do the OGPcountries score for access FA to company IL! data?
    • 25. 4 key measures
    • 26. 4 key measuresBasic search: can you search the company registerfreely, without charge and without registrationLicence: Is there a licence that allows open reuse ofthe informationData: Is the information available as open data as adata dump or an APIDepth: Is there sufficient information to get a truepicture of the company and those who control it –directors, significant shareholdings, and statutory filings
    • 27. The results were not good...
    • 28. The results were not good...
    • 29. For US we took a straight average of thestate registers (possibly overstates access)
    • 30. On corporate confidentiality& competitive advantage
    • 31. On corporate confidentiality& competitive advantage No good reason why a corporate hierarchy should not be public
    • 32. On corporate confidentiality& competitive advantage No good reason why a corporate hierarchy should not be public Competitive advantage should be about new products and services, innovation, risking capital, not devising complex corporate networks that encourage companies to evade regulation, tax, scrutiny
    • 33. On corporate confidentiality& competitive advantage No good reason why a corporate hierarchy should not be public Competitive advantage should be about new products and services, innovation, risking capital, not devising complex corporate networks that encourage companies to evade regulation, tax, scrutiny Disproportionally benefits big incumbents, thus stifling competition and innovation
    • 34. On corporate confidentiality& competitive advantage No good reason why a corporate hierarchy should not be public Competitive advantage should be about new products and services, innovation, risking capital, not devising complex corporate networks that encourage companies to evade regulation, tax, scrutiny Disproportionally benefits big incumbents, thus stifling competition and innovation Disadvantages those companies that want to be good corporate citizens, forcing a race to the bottom
    • 35. What is OpenCorporates?A simple (huge)goal: build anopenly licenseddatabase withan entry (andURI) for everycorporate legalentity in theworld
    • 36. What is OpenCorporates?A simple (huge)goal: build anopenly licenseddatabase withan entry (andURI) for every dict ionscorporate legal n 52 juris atesentity in the anies i 22 US stworld n co mp clud ing 0m illio In w ov er 4No
    • 37. 5 core uses
    • 38. 1. An open identifying system
    • 39. 1. An open identifying system URIs can be used as common identifiers among a variety of organisations Can be used without reference to OpenCorporates Because they map to the id issued by the company register the corresponding entry in the registry (and associated info) can be found, and vice versa Fits the new W3c/EU Business Vocabulary Can even by used for companies in jurisdiction we haven’t yet imported
    • 40. 2. The simple search
    • 41. 2. The simple searchNot to be underestimated
    • 42. 2. The simple searchNot to be underestimated
    • 43. 2. The simple searchNot to be underestimatedMassively reduces friction(how long will it take youto find and searchmultiple jurisdictions)
    • 44. 2. The simple searchNot to be underestimatedMassively reduces friction(how long will it take youto find and searchmultiple jurisdictions)
    • 45. 2. The simple searchNot to be underestimatedMassively reduces friction(how long will it take youto find and searchmultiple jurisdictions)Allows what if questions
    • 46. 2. The simple searchNot to be underestimatedMassively reduces friction(how long will it take youto find and searchmultiple jurisdictions)Allows what if questionsPotentially generatesstories in its own right
    • 47. 2. The simple searchNot to be underestimatedMassively reduces friction(how long will it take youto find and searchmultiple jurisdictions)Allows what if questionsPotentially generatesstories in its own right
    • 48. 3. Source for additional info
    • 49. 3. Source for additional info Addresses, filings, status, websites...
    • 50. 3. Source for additional info Addresses, filings, status, websites...
    • 51. 3. Source for additional info Addresses, filings, status, websites... Intl trademarks, UK govt spending, official notices, health & safety violations...
    • 52. 3. Source for additional info Addresses, filings, status, websites... Intl trademarks, UK govt spending, official notices, health & safety violations...
    • 53. 3. Source for additional info Addresses, filings, status, websites... Intl trademarks, UK govt spending, official notices, health & safety violations... Other IDs: SEC, CAGE, etc – allows reverse mapping queries, e.g. show me legal entity mapped to a CIK code
    • 54. 4. Reconciliation(matching names to legalClean up messycompany names(& prev names)to legal entity,and from thereto other dataGoogle Refinereconciliationservice (specificto jurisdiction)
    • 55. 5. The platform API: allows all information to be retrieved as data, even searches Users can now add data too Coming soon: the option to match data to companies
    • 56. 5. The platform API: allows all information to be retrieved as data, even searches Users can now add data too Coming soon: the option to match data to companies
    • 57. 5. The platform API: allows all information to be retrieved as data, even searches Users can now add data too Coming soon: the option to match data to companies
    • 58. 5. The platform API: allows all information to be retrieved as data, even searches Users can now add data too Coming soon: the option to match data to companies
    • 59. 5. The platform API: allows all information to be retrieved as data, even searches Users can now add data too Coming soon: the option to match data to companies
    • 60. How have we done it?
    • 61. How have we done it?Co-operation – we get data direct from some companyregisters (UK, NZ, a few US), and are working withinternational institutions (EC, W3c, Financial StabilityBoard, etc) to improve visibility and reuse of company info
    • 62. How have we done it?Co-operation – we get data direct from some companyregisters (UK, NZ, a few US), and are working withinternational institutions (EC, W3c, Financial StabilityBoard, etc) to improve visibility and reuse of company infoCommunity – a lot of the data has been contributed bythe open data community (thanks, ScraperWiki)
    • 63. How have we done it?Co-operation – we get data direct from some companyregisters (UK, NZ, a few US), and are working withinternational institutions (EC, W3c, Financial StabilityBoard, etc) to improve visibility and reuse of company infoCommunity – a lot of the data has been contributed bythe open data community (thanks, ScraperWiki)Cool open-source software (100% open sourceplatform/tools)
    • 64. How have we done it?Co-operation – we get data direct from some companyregisters (UK, NZ, a few US), and are working withinternational institutions (EC, W3c, Financial StabilityBoard, etc) to improve visibility and reuse of company infoCommunity – a lot of the data has been contributed bythe open data community (thanks, ScraperWiki)Cool open-source software (100% open sourceplatform/tools)Colossal scraping (100,000s of pages/API calls per day)
    • 65. Problems (& solutions)
    • 66. Problems (& solutions) Company registers consider themselves businesses, not public registers – sometimes block access
    • 67. Problems (& solutions) Company registers consider themselves businesses, not public registers – sometimes block access Slow, poorly designed company register websites (and sometimes they don’t even exist – and not just in developing countries)
    • 68. Problems (& solutions) Company registers consider themselves businesses, not public registers – sometimes block access Slow, poorly designed company register websites (and sometimes they don’t even exist – and not just in developing countries) Understanding global data
    • 69. Problems (& solutions) Company registers consider themselves businesses, not public registers – sometimes block access Slow, poorly designed company register websites (and sometimes they don’t even exist – and not just in developing countries) Understanding global data International/national jurisdictions
    • 70. Problems (& solutions) Company registers consider themselves businesses, not public registers – sometimes block access Slow, poorly designed company register websites (and sometimes they don’t even exist – and not just in developing countries) Understanding global data International/national jurisdictions Big-data problems – ETL, scaling, etc
    • 71. Problems (& solutions) Company registers consider themselves businesses, not public registers – sometimes block access Slow, poorly designed company register websites h elp to (and ow ant in developing countries) le op wh sometimes they don’t even exist – and not just pe ing global dataF nd iUnderstanding International/national jurisdictions Big-data problems – ETL, scaling, etc
    • 72. What next?
    • 73. What next?Recently started adding company directors and officers
    • 74. What next?Recently started adding company directors and officersMore public data – political donations, lobbyists, otherID systems
    • 75. What next?Recently started adding company directors and officersMore public data – political donations, lobbyists, otherID systemsRelationships between corporate entities
    • 76. What next?Recently started adding company directors and officersMore public data – political donations, lobbyists, otherID systemsRelationships between corporate entitiesMore options for community to add/curate data

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