Google search is great, but let’s be real. A website’s placement on the first page of Google’s search results for a particular term is no guarantee that said website will provide accurate, useful information about that term. Nor, in many cases, anything close to it.
If your job or business or even mere curiosity relies on access to accurate, up-to-date information about private and public companies, you can’t rely on Internet searches alone. You need dependable resources maintained by professional researchers and data specialists who understand the subject matter and sympathize with the need for quality information.
Each of these resources qualifies. While some specialize in detailed data on public companies, others are indispensable sources of information about private firms, which are notoriously non-transparent. For best results, use more than one for each research project you work on, the better to ensure you’re getting reliable, accurate information.
Most consumers know Bloomberg as a business publisher, but that’s really just a small part of the company’s business. Its real moneymaker is the vast troves of data it collects, organizes, and distributes to clients willing to pay to know more than the next person.
Bloomberg’s research resources are too numerous to detail here. One premium source of information for investors and serious researchers is the company’s private equity database, which provides raw and synthesized intelligence for clients who trust it to form the basis of multi-million-dollar investing decisions.
Owler.com is a more accessible resource for individuals and companies researching privately held firms. With an emphasis on financial and technology companies, it’s a great place to find up-and-coming companies that other business intelligence platforms overlook. The Owler listing for Yieldstreet, a New York-based financial services company, highlights another Owler.com strength: detailed competitor intelligence for easy comparisons of like companies.
OpenCorporates is a searchable database with data on nearly 200 million corporate entities based all over the world. In fairness, many of these are special-purpose entities and sole proprietorships, but OpenCorporates’ breadth is nevertheless astounding. If you’re seeking quality information on non-U.S. companies, it’s difficult to imagine a more impressive research.
4. Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory
The Dun & Bradstreet business directory is another searchable database of private and public companies based all over the world. It’s not quite as comprehensive as OpenCorporates and has a bias toward larger companies, but those are details in the grand scheme of things. Its company listings have granular detail lacking in more perfunctory business databases, making D&B (as it’s known in the business) a go-to for serious business researchers.
5. Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau is best known for its letter-grade ranking system and “yes/no” accreditation status, both of which are meant to inform consumers (and steer them away from potential scams). But BBB does a good job of collecting and presenting open-source information about listed companies as well, making it a useful resource for researchers. The subjective yet insightful customer reviews are helpful for researchers hoping to glean a fuller picture than numbers alone can paint, too.
LexisNexis has two distinct sources of company information: Legal & Professional Solutions and Risk Solutions. The former has long since outgrown is narrow legal focus and now provides a wealth of general business information to anyone willing to pay for it. The latter is perhaps the foremost private resource for companies seeking the tools and information they needed to remain on the right side of the law.
PrivCo is a business intelligence database that goes one step further than Dun & Bradstreet and OpenCorporates. The key difference is a degree of data structuring and synthesis that those other platforms can’t match. PrivCo also offers some content resources that database-only resources don’t bother with, like its Daily Stack financial insights newsletter. PrivCo doesn’t quite have the breadth of some of the other resources mentioned here, but it’s worth a subscription for sure.
You Deserve Better Information
You can’t afford to work off of bad information. You deserve the very best open-source and gated information the Internet has to offer.
And you deserve it on your terms. If that means “now,” well, you deserve it now.
Each of these resources aims to provide accurate, high-quality information that’s actually relevant in the here and now. Some are free to use, like the Better Business Bureau and Yahoo! Finance. Those that do require paid subscriptions are well worth the cost for customers who use them frequently.
It’s time to up your research game.