Deals

Startup MarketBrief instantly analyzes & summarizes SEC filings

Going through page after page of SEC filings is our idea of a fun time on a Saturday night. For the rest of you, there’s MarketBrief, which turns complicated SEC filings into short, simple news articles in about a second.

This Y Combinator startup launched last week with the promise to programmatically organize SEC filings the instant they’re made public and deliver the information to you as a plain-English summary.

Today, around 19 firms around the world (law firms, investment firms, etc.) get SEC filings in real time. MarketBrief is the only startup to do so.

MarketBrief parses around 100,000 pages of filings each day. It then uses that information to create 1,000 articles per day. The nascent service is currently being used by large legal, financial and media organizations, including Dow Jones, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and many others.

The kinds of data MarketBrief is gleaning is not only fascinating to the average reader but essential to those who need legal, accounting and competitive intelligence information about public companies.

“In looking at XBRL, a new standard formatting for the filings, it made it a lot easier to summarize the data in the filings,” co-founder Jason Zucchetto told VentureBeat at the Y Combinator Demo Days event today in Mountain View, Calif.

XBRL stands for extensible business reporting language. It’s an open standard for reporting business and financial data, and it’s making organizing, analyzing and communicating business information a lot easier for companies like MarketBrief.

“Some of the filings are like Mad Libs where they’re just reporting numbers. But we’re getting into the language processing side of it. If it’s qualitative or a corporate event, that’s what we’re tackling now,” said Zucchetto.

So far, the language side is working out well enough. Here’s a sample paragraph from a MarketBrief story, which was entirely machine-written based on SEC documents:

Let’s take a quick, high-level look at insider trading at Sigma Aldrich Corp over the past 12 months. A total of 220,331 shares of Sigma Aldrich Corp stock was sold by insiders, totaling $13,812,322. Over the same time 12 month time period, 375 shares of Sigma Aldrich Corp, for a total value of $22,125 were purchased by company insiders.

Right now, the MarketBrief database contains information and follows filings for more than 400,000 companies. Users of the service can follow companies, specific people or stock ticker symbols.

“We’re still really early, but you’ll see a lot of improvement over the next year,” said Zucchetto. “We’re looking at pulling in other documents from the FCA, FCC, to make it easy for people to see what’s going on.”

Zucchetto told us about the startup’s business plan, saying, “We want to sell feeds and charge customers a few thousand dollars a month for the information. There will be a freemium model; the current site is delayed by a few minutes, and that’s free. And we’ll charge $9 per month for individual investors.”

While Zucchetto says investors and law firms are the service’s clearest demographic, he acknowledges that clearly, getting up-to-the-second data is hugely valuable to news organizations — the very same organizations that stand to lose the most if MarketBrief succeeds. The only way for publications like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal not to be left in the dust of untimeliness is to partner with MarketBrief.

As Zucchetto noted, “We can give these sites a lot of content. We’ll be talking to partners in New York next week. One is one of the largest news organizations in the world.”

MarketBrief has taken $250,000 from Washington, DC-area angel investors and is actively looking for additional institutional funding. The company is originally from DC and is now based in Mountain View.

Stay tuned for ongoing coverage of new Y Combinator comanies from the 2011 class.