The first step in finding company information is to determine whether the company is publicly or privately held.
Public Company--A public company is collectively owned by shareholders. The company sells shares to the general public to raise capital. Public companies are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and required to disclose financial information.
Private Company--The majority of US companies are privately held. These companies are owned by founders, venture capitalists or employees. No disclosure of financial information is required. Note: companies incorporated in Delaware may need to file an annual report. See State of Delaware for more information.
Often found on the company website, these are condensed versions of the SEC filings, written for shareholders.
Company histories can be found in many different places. To get a complete picture of the company you may need to try multiple sources.
Company's website or annual report may contain a history of the company (be cautious as this will be biased towards the company image).
Books--the library may have books on the history of a company, especially larger, established companies. Do a Quick Search to see what is available.
Articles through the databases listed in the resource section may contain some company history.
Private companies are not required to make any financial data available to the public. Unlike public companies, they are not required to file financial data with the SEC. Finding financial data on private companies may be difficult or impossible to do.
Some possible sources for finding private company information:
Company Websites--Some companies may publish portions of an annual report online.
Contacting the company--For students, private companies may be willing to share their financial information.