A network graph of Corporate America
Having loaded a bunch of SEC Data in Freebase, I started exploring what sort of cool visualizations one might do with it that can show a lot of different data at once. I created this chart, which shows companies that are connected by shared board members. It got a lot of my business-type friends very excited:
Update: Not all of the data about when someone left a board is available. Therefore some links may represent people who have since stepped down.
I tried to put as much data on here as I could — genders of the people, CEO indicators, market cap, revenue, location, etc. What’s fun about data visualization is that rather than just making a point, it sometimes makes us ask questions that we might not have otherwise considered.
I generated a graph from the 400 largest companies by market capitalization. What’s shown here is the largest strongly connected component, which has 212 nodes. So 212 of these companies are run by people who all work together through some number of steps.
Upon looking at the graph, I noticed a surprisingly high amount of red (female board members). The reason it’s surprising is that only 12% of corporate board members from the sample were female — this graph, however, shows only people who are on more than one board. A quick calculation showed that about 21% of the lines are women. This difference is statistically significant to <0.001%. It supports anecdotes I've heard about women who manage to reach that level being asked to join more boards.
Also striking was how closely tied all the West Coast technology companies are. At the bottom of the graph, you find Oracle, Cisco, Google, Yahoo and Sun, all tightly clustered. The rest of the graph does not seem to exhibit such tight clustering within an industry. Digging into the data, we find that a lot of successful West Coast VCs end up serving on the boards of many of the tech companies in which they’ve invested.
The deep green on the graph immediately draws out eyes to the companies with the most revenue. Looking quickly, besides Wal-mart, we see that the energy industry has been doing very well recently.
The board members were generated from SEC filings forms 3 and 4 for 2007, so the data may be outdated or incomplete. Again, I’m just trying to get you thinking!