About CrocTail

CrocTail was created by:


Sunlight Foundation Logo

Developed by:

Greg Michalec and Skye Bender-deMoll with design help from One3snapshot.com

Powered by the CorpWatch API

CrocTail provides an interface for browsing information about several hundred thousand U.S. publicly traded corporations and their foreign subsidiaries. Information from company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been parsed and annotated by CorpWatch to provide a way for Crocodyl.org users to research and add issues related to corporate subsidiaries. CrocTail also serves as a demonstration of the features and data available through the CorpWatch API.

Where does this information come from?

Every Corporation listed on U.S. Stock exchange is required to file annual reports with the SEC. These reports—called “10-K forms”—are intended to help investors and regulators better understand the risks, assets, and current leadership of a company in order to make informed investment decisions. One of the requirements of a 10-K filing is that it must include a section that lists any other companies that are owned by the corporation making the filing. This “Exhibit 21” provides a rough snapshot of the ownership hierarchy of the subsidiary “child” companies along with location or jurisdiction of incorporation of each subsidiary. Thanks to the efforts of various government transparency advocates, the SEC makes all of this filing information available on the web for free.

Information about corporate responsibility issues is added to the database by various researchers associated with the Crocodyl.org project.


What does the CorpWatch API do that the SEC doesn’t?

Although the SEC provides a search interface for locating company filings (EDGAR), the subsidiary information is not presented in a standardized format suitable for automated use or insertion into a database. The CorpWatch API uses parsers to “scrape” the subsidiary relationship information from Exhibit 21 of the 10-K filings and provides a well-structured interface for programs to query and process the subsidiary data.

How do you know where a company is located?

When companies file with the SEC they must provide a business address and jurisdiction of incorporation (the state or country were they are legally registered). Exhibit 21 of a parent company's 10-K filing gives the name of jurisdiction for each subsidiary company, but in some cases it also gives the location where the company actually does business. (For example, a company could be incorporated in Delaware, but actually operate in California). Unfortunately, the parser is not able to distinguish between the two types of locations, so the associated location could be either one. We also standardize various ways of spelling or indicating nationalities and translate them to a standard UN code. (For example “a French company” = “France” = “FR”) We also only geocoded to the country and state/province level, the markers are not shown at the street addresses of the companies.

How timely are the data?

Currently the application has access to information from filings from 2003 to the most recent year available. Corporations are only required to file once per year, and they don't all file on the same dates. The CorpWatch API is updated frequently to show the most recent information available from the SEC for each company.

How accurate are the data?

The Exhibit 21 flings are not submitted in a standardized format. This makes them very difficult to parse, or in some cases impossible. And since we are dealing with many millions of records, it is not possible to check that each one is correct. There are definitely some errors, but we’ve checked some small samples and we believe we are correctly parsing 90% of the subsidiary companies correctly. So you should always check back with the original official filings at the SEC before making any decisions using this data. (Each profile includes links to the original forms.) Of course, companies can also make errors or omissions in their filings as well.

How do you know you have all the subsidiaries, joint ventures, partnerships, etc. for each company?

We don’t. We only have the information that the companies themselves submitted to the SEC in their 10-K filings. There are a number of loopholes in the filing requirements, and companies often do a good job of hiding the ownership relations to prevent competitors or regulators from knowing what they are doing. Also, in some situations the legal and financial arrangements can be so complex that it is difficult to say whether or not one company “owns” another.

Why do some large companies only have one level of subsidiaries?

Some companies specify in their filings which of their subsidiaries own each other, but not all do. And in some cases we are able to parse out the full list of child companies but are unable to correctly extract the hierarchy from the filing. Unfortunately, as the information is currently filed, there is no easy way to distinguish more complicated structures from simpler hierarchies where, for example, a single parent company owns a bunch of subsidiaries directly. It is our hope that the SEC will consider amending its guidance for filers in the future so that it is easier to extract and replicate the hierarchy from the filing.

Why do some corporations have multiple names?

There are a number of reasons this can happen. In the simplest case, a corporation may have many similarly-named companies as it subsidiaries. Some larger firms may be made up of several separate “trees” of corporations that are, from a legal standpoint, independent corporations even though they may share a board of directors or other means of control. In many cases it is possible to determine how these complex corporations are related by reading the full 10-K, but the information is not present in the Exhibit 21 we are parsing.

Why can't I find Company X ?

This database mostly covers U.S. publicly traded corporations. Not very many foreign companies appear in the SEC data, but the foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations are included. In addition, some of the largest companies in the U.S. are privately held. This means they don't usually file with the SEC and are not required to make any information available to the public.

Why don't you have any issues listed for Company Y? I know they do all sorts of bad things...

When no issues appear on a profile it doesn't mean a company has a clean record. Because it takes a long time to do accurate research, only a small number of corporations have been researched so far. If you are interested in adding information to the database, please contact Crocodyl.org about creating an account.

Why do I sometimes get companies in my search results that are not in the location I was searching for?

Some companies (especially the parent filing companies) may have multiple business and mailing addresses and a jurisdiction of incorporation. We only display one location (our best guess, usually the business address) but the search looks for matches with all of the locations associated with a company.

How can I find out more about this project?

Email us at: support@api.corpwatch.org

Or contact CorpWatch at: 2958 24th Street | San Francisco, CA | 94110, USA | Tel: +1-415-641-1633