Whether you’re compiling a research report on your firm’s closest competitors, preparing for a job interview with an unfamiliar organization, or doing your due diligence before purchasing company shares, you have every right and expectation to find accurate, up-to-date information.
The question is, where should you turn first?
These 10 websites, apps, and public-domain resources can all help. Give each a try and see which best fits your needs.
1. Bloomberg Private Company Snapshots
Bloomberg is a vast information broker that defies easy categorization. It’s not really fair to call it a media company; there’s just too much else going on under the hood.
One of Bloomberg’s least sexy verticals is its private company snapshot database. This is a great resource for folks researching for-profit companies that aren’t publicly listed on U.S. or overseas stock exchanges. Private firms aren’t subject to the same onerous disclosure requirements as public companies, but Bloomberg nevertheless does a great job of collecting and synthesizing whatever information is available from public sources.
As you can see from this example, Bloomberg’s private company snapshots feature a comprehensive look at each firm’s C suite, a brief description of its operations, detailed contact information, and a roundup of recent news headlines (some from Bloomberg itself).
2. S&P Global Market Intelligence
S&P Global Market Intelligence isn’t as user-friendly as Bloomberg, but it’s perhaps even more information-rich. In fact, S&P provides the raw data for most Bloomberg profiles, so researchers not overly concerned about presentation can go straight to the source here. S&P gets bonus points for including an impressive roster of companies headquartered outside the United States.
3. Yahoo Finance
Yahoo Finance has been around since the dawn of time — or, at least, since the dawn of the Internet. Like Bloomberg, it’s a great place to find parseable profiles packed with detailed information about company officers, functions, financials, and news. This well-known media company’s profile highlights its most recent stock price, a slew of financial details for potential investors performing due diligence, and relevant news headlines from around the world.
Yahoo Finance isn’t as strong as some resources on the private company front, but it’s fantastic for public company research. Plan accordingly.
LinkedIn is best known as a social network for professionals, and that remains its core function. But it’s also a legitimate platform for lesser-known companies to advertise — and, by extension, for people who want to know more about those companies to find the information they need.
Use LinkedIn’s search function to find public and private companies, or browse by industry. Each company page includes key employees, links out to rank-and-file employees’ personal profiles, contact information, company descriptions, and more.
CNBC is among the most popular financial media properties in the United States. Like Yahoo Finance, it’s a great place to find detailed financial and biographical information about publicly traded companies. CNBC has an extensive news vertical, too, with tons of wire stories — so it should be at or near the top of your list for company news searches.
As you can see from this telecom company’s profile, CNBC also has fantastic charts. Outside the brokerage world, it’s hard to find a better set of free performance analysis tools.
FactSet is a research platform built by and for financial professionals. It’s not just for company research, of course: its comprehensive reports tease out hidden trends, secular shifts, and arbitrage opportunities the world over. If you’re seeking information on otherwise opaque organizations or their activities, and you don’t mind paying for access to its powerful tools, FactSet is worth a closer look.
Crunchbase is arguably the best place to find detailed information about early-stage companies, individual entrepreneurs, investors, and others involved in the startup ecosystem. It hews to a freemium model, which means its best features are hidden behind a users-only wall. If you’re looking for quick answers, like who runs a particular startup or which hot new companies comprise a particular VC’s portfolio, you won’t need to pay.
LexisNexis is a digital research pioneer. Back in the 1970s, when the Internet was still just a gleam in the U.S. military’s eye, LexisNexis was quietly compiling databases of legal and financial documents for easy scanning and review. For years, the company had a near-monopoly on such information, and while it’s obviously no longer in pole position, it remains a great resource for hard-to-find information about private companies — including regulatory filings, court documents, patents, and more.
9. University Archives
When did you last spend time in your local university’s archives building?
Unless you’re an academic or dedicated private researcher, you probably can’t answer that question. Nor should you have to. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, whose consumer face grew in large part out of a need to systematize the untold terabytes of information owned or supervised by U.S. research institutions, a lot of what you can pore through by hand is also available online.
Great news for allergy sufferers and homebodies, if no one else.
Like Crunchbase, Angel.co is a great resource for people researching early stage companies and their investors. If the main thrust of your research is to determine whether a particular organization would make a suitable employer, angel.co doubles as a job board for techies and other knowledge economy workers — so it might just help you kill two birds with one stone.
The Truth Is Out There
These aren’t the only places to find information about public and private for-profit entities. Depending on the nature and prominence of the company you’re researching and the type of information you seek, you can likely find what you’re looking for in dozens of other places.
Of course, time is money. When you’ve got a million other things on your plate, it helps to know exactly what you’re looking for — and exactly where to find. Here’s to an efficient search!