There are several reasons why you might need to find information about a company. For example, if you’re in the job market, you want to know as much as you can about prospective employers before an interview, and consumers like to research products and services before they buy. The type of information you can find about a company depends in part on whether it’s a public or a private company.
A private company doesn’t sell shares publicly and it isn’t registered with the NYSE, so sometimes it’s difficult to glean much information beyond the name, physical address, phone number and web address. What you find above the information that a private company chooses to divulge on their website is based on searching online databases. The fact that a company is privately held doesn’t necessarily mean anything sinister. It simply means that they have no need or desire to sell shares to the public; many fine and upstanding businesses are private companies. Publicly held companies are held to a different standard of transparency. They must register with the Stock Exchange and file financial reports to the SEC on a quarterly basis. Depending on the industry, they may also have to register with other governing boards that regulate companies in their sphere. All of this information is freely available to the general public from a variety of sources.
Some other differences between public and private companies are:
1. The number of members. Private companies can consist of as little as two people, where public companies must have at least seven members. Public companies can have as many members as they want, but private companies are limited to 50 current members, total.
2. The number of directors. The minimum number for a public company is three directors, for a private company, it’s only two. There are also legal restrictions in the appointment of directors of public companies.
3. Public companies must have a formal statutory meeting and file a report on that meeting with the register.
4. Managers of public companies can’t by paid more than 11 percent of the company’s net profits; there are no restrictions on private company management remuneration.
Some places to look for information on any type of corporate entity include search engine listings, social networking sites, industry association listings and corporate review sites. There are websites that are similar to social networking sites and are predominately used for listing information about companies and business persons of interest. These sites are used mainly for the purposes of expanding business contacts; call them social networking sites for businesses, if you will.
TrueCar Businessweek is an example of the kind of information you can find about private or public companies on websites that specialize in listing corporate profiles. This particular listing provides an overview of a private company that provides a service to a specific consumer niche: new car buyers. The information lets potential readers know the type of information they can find in this online publication, the physical location of its headquarters, the phone number and web address and the year the company was founded. It also lists news articles that mention the company, so you can browse and read further on your own.
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