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The Open Database Of The Corporate World

About OpenCorporates

What we do in a nutshell

OpenCorporates is the largest open database of companies and company data in the world, with in excess of 100 million companies in a similarly large number of jurisdictions. Our primary goal is to make information on companies more usable and more widely available for the public benefit, particularly to tackle the use of companies for criminal or anti-social purposes, for example corruption, money laundering and organised crime.

This public mission is made possible with a sustainable business model that ensures that the public benefit is put first, and that we aren’t dependent on short-term grants, or donations (we won the Best Open Data Business in 2015) – by charging proprietary data users for access to the structured data, we can make all our data available on the website for free, and similarly make it available for free as structured data to journalists, NGOs and academics.

Why is this important?

“It is essential to give the greatest publicity to the affairs of companies, that everyone may know on what grounds he is dealing”

Robert Lowe, later Chancellor of the Exchequer, introducing the 1856 Companies Act in the British Parliament, which made it easy to create Limited Liability Companies

We live in a global, corporate, connected world. Companies are no longer bricks-and-mortar institutions, but increasingly complex networks of legal entities that span multiple countries and jurisdictions. This is especially true for powerful global corporations, and for corporate structures used for criminal or anti-social purposes.

Few parts of the corporate world are limited to a single country, and so the world needs a way of bringing the information together in a single place, and more than that, a place that's accessible to anyone, not just those who subscribe to proprietary datasets. See also the OpenCorporates Principles

Timeline

2010
OpenCorporates is launched as more-or-less a proof-of-concept, with 3 million companies in 3 jurisdictions (UK, Jersey, Bermuda) by Chris Taggart and Rob McKinnon, both veterans of the UK open data scene. Rob built TheyWorkForYou.nz and WhosLobbying.com; Chris built OpenlyLocal.com and OpenCharities.
2011
Works with community to help write bots to collect basic data from company registers. Reaches 30 million companies in 35 jurisdictions just 12 months after launch
Launches v0.1 of OpenCorporates API, giving access to the underlying structured data
2012
Begins development of open corporate network data (with help of grant from Alfred P Sloan Foundation).
Publishes first reports into access to statutory company information as open data
Now 40 million companies in database
2013
Launches OpenLEIs, a user-friendly way to access data in the Global Legal Entity Identifier System
Launches corporate network functionality, combining data from public sources to surface complex corporate structures
Launches Open Company Data Index, in conjunction with World Bank Institute, to measure access to statutory company information
After sustained campaign by civil society, UK announces that it will create the world's first public beneficial ownership register. OpenCorporates and its network data credited with playing a significant role in subsequent report by Omidyar Network.
Now 50 million companies in database
2014
OpenCorporates is awarded grant from Alfred P Sloan Foundation to develop Data Pipeline, to collect licence information and other regulatory data
OpenCorporates starts being used by major corporate users – including Creditsafe, Bureau van Dijk, LinkedIn, Avention (One Source)
Launches FlashHacks – events to help wider community learn about, extract and use corporate data
Works with Open Oil to extract corporate structure of BP as open data
Now over 70 million companies in database
2015
Wins Open Data Business Award, thanks to its success and its innovative public-interest business model.
OpenCorporates data pivotal to groundbreaking Global Witness investigation into corruption in the Jade industry in Myanmar
Now 95 million companies in database
2016
Launches OpenGazettes, providing access to the hidden but essential company data locked away in government gazettes
Panama Papers published, with ICIJ using OpenCorporates data to help understand the data. Spanish minister resigns following information found in OpenCorporates by journalists investigating Panama Papers data
Starts importing data from the UK PSC (Beneficial Ownership) register, within weeks of it going live
With 6 other leading transparency NGOs, and funded by DfID, announces the launch of a project to create OpenOwnership, a global beneficial ownership register for the public benefit
Now 115 million companies in database

Corporate structure

OpenCorporates (and the associated websites) is published by Chrinon Ltd (Registered in England, number 07444723). This acts as a social enterprise, putting the public benefit before profit. We are currently working with advisers and civil society to enshrine our public benefit mission into our corporate structure.

How can we get hold of the data?

See Our Data

Under what licence is the data published?

In collecting this information, and matching up to other data, OpenCorporates has acquired database rights, but we strongly believe this information should be freely reusable, and so make it available (to the extent that we have the rights) under the share-alike attribution Open Database Licence. For details, please see our licence page.

How can we help?

See Contributing