When you want to look up information on publicly traded companies, it helps to know the ticker symbol. Microsft's ticker is MSFT, Google's ticker is GOOG, Apple's ticker is AAPL. Every publicly traded company has a ticker.

But private companies don't have tickers. And as more and more private companies are attaining status and drawing the attention of mainstream media and the investment community, it is time for that to change.

Yesterday Stocktwits and Second Market proposed a set of tickers for popular privately held companies. The proposed list of tickers is here.

I'd like to see services like (a portfolio company of ours: $TRACK), Google Finance, Yahoo Finance, Crunchbase, Wikinvest, and their competitors adopt these tickers. If everyone supported the TWIT symbol for Twitter, the FBOOK symbol for Facebook, and the SKYPE symbol for Skype it would make it a lot easier to aggregate financial and other information on these companies.

I have been an investor and on the board of a company called Alacra for over ten years. We made the investment in the Flatiron partnership. One of Alacra's most successful services is called Concordance. They manage symbology for large enterprises with large datasets. It is a critical service for large banks, brokers, accountants, consultants, law firms, and other knowledge driven industries.

Unique identifiers are so helpful when you are trying to make sense of large amounts of data. It is particularly helpful in the case of company specific information and it is also expected in the investment community.

So I hope this effort by Stocktwits and Second Market gains traction with the other web services that aggregate information on private and public companies. I'll do my part by tweeting with these tickers (using the $ticker standard set by Stocktwits) when I talk about private companies on Twitter. I hope others will do the same.

And Stocktwits and Second Market can make my life easier by making sure that companies like Alacra and Wikinvest that don't have private company symbols get them asap. I wonder if they should open up this database in some way so that companies can issue themselves tickers. It seems like trying to manage this as a closed system won't scale very well and some kind of open system will work better. I'm curious what others think.

#stocks#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. maxniederhofer

    Instead of doing one canonical, centrally controlled database, why not attempt something like the DNS or separate systems of usernames that are loosely coupled? E.g. Twitter could be $TWIT on SecondMarket and /Twitter on Tracked, while there exists a unifying underlying identifier that says $TWIT=/Twitter=(xyz) on (OtherService).Incidentally, this is what I’m doing for personal identity where you can be @fredwilson on Twitter but on the web, all connected by the rel=me microformat.

    1. fredwilson

      you have described Alacra’s concordance systemi do think there is value in having one easily identified “tag” though

    2. gbattle

      Max, the path you are going down is really one of entities (person, place, thing, good, service) and their synonyms. That’s the generic case, and then you identify the entity as a company (or person, place, etc.) to add more specificity about entity type and relationship to other entities. The problem with the StockTwits/Second Market setup is with services like Flickr (or $SKYPE 2 years ago or $TWIT if they get purchased), who are not private companies but considered a cohesive unit of interest in the social media world. The generic path I described above includes that information as a superset of the Stocktwits/Second Market information. Frankly, if you have enough publicly addressable synonyms collected (Facebook, $FBOOK, FB,, FBK on NASDAQ when they go public, etc.), you can follow and filter to your heart’s content. Crowdsource the entities, synonyms and relationships and you’ll have the superior dataset to power aggregation.

      1. howardlindzon

        sweet thinking greg. thx

  2. Zvi

    I had this idea long time ago, when I was into “Venture Exchanges” – i.e. tracking stocks for startups.I also wandered which symbols SecondMarket using.What I see that proposed tickers do not use standard convention used by public exchanges. The 5-th letter in symbol usually has some meaning, like Bankruptcy, Foreign, Late with the filling, etc.Also, I think there is a clash with public company tickers and might be in the future.Either StockTweets need to adopt different prefix for private companies, i.e. $GOOG, but %FBOOK, or they need to actively manage this list, like the real exchanges do.I would like to reserver tickers for my startup too. Luckily I try to name my companies for upto 5 – 6 letters. So the name can be used as a ticker.There is a study, that companies with shorter and catchy names usually outperform companies with long and difficult to pronounce names.

    1. fredwilson

      i accidentally tweeted this last night…and got a lot of chatter on twitter about five letters being bad

      1. zerobeta

        5 letter symbols get a bad wrap (because of PK sheet companies) but sometimes its just easier for people to remember – especially for companies with 5 letter names. $ZYNGA is just much better than $ZYNG or $ZYNA and $SKYPE is better than $SKYP.We also had to go with 5 letters in some cases because public companies took all possible good combinations of letters for a particular company.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Worth mentioning too that there are also legit companies on the Pink Sheets, and that private companies are similar to Pink Sheet companies in that they both avoid the obligation of quarterly public filings.

      2. howardlindzon

        Nintendo is NTDOY and many great companies have em.To me it’s fine if the ticker makes sense.I almost think eery company in the private index should have 5 letters as a ‘badge’ of non public honir…

      3. byrneseyeview

        Five letters also used to mean delinquent filers (if the letter was “E”). Here’s the list of other stuff it can mean:…So someone who has been trading for a while and sees $SKYPE assumes that it’s $SKYP, but they haven’t filed their latest 10-Q.

  3. kellan

    How are these an improvement over URIs which are already a distributed, well understood identifier system?

    1. fredwilson

      URLs are for web servicestickers are for companiesGoogle has literally hundreds of web services but it is one company

      1. kellan

        But it also has a canonical URI/URL that is intuitive and yet has clear provenance, e.g. using something like DNS srv records (the metadata XMPP builds on) it would straightforward to add disambiguation as needed, without creating a centralized mapping service.(this is distinct from, for example, the geographic identifiers space where we desperately need a concordance service)

        1. fredwilson

          that’s an interesting suggestionfor companies with multiple domains, how do you know which one is”canonical”?

    2. stevenwillmott

      URIs is actually a good metaphor. People often think URL = URI, but a URI is more general – URLs is a just a subtype with a specific type of resolver. It would be easy to build resolvers for a company ticker namespace I guess. Still it might be over complicated – the most important thing you need is an “institution” which owns and manages the namespace (it doesn’t have to be centralised, but it needs to be agreed).

  4. Vladimir Vukicevic

    It’s hard to believe that this is a new idea since it seems to fundamentally useful. Although once (if) real IPOs for these companies come there could be issues with changes in the symbols.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, you will get symbol changesthat already happens and is pretty manageable

  5. William Mougayar

    That’s a great initiative. We’ll adopt it right away in our semantic analysis. And yes, I’d like to see it opened up further so that we can add ourselves or submit a request to be added. I’m sure there must be some criteria for inclusion.

    1. Chris Corriveau

      We are working on a submission process for inclusion. As well as API and other methods for access to this data. It is coming.

  6. JimHirshfield

    Seems to me like a classic semantic web / structured data issue, if I may throw a few buzzwords around. Stocktwits should upload the list to Metaweb’s Freebase (now owned by Google, but still open source / linked open data) or Then it wouldn’t be a closed situation.

    1. howardlindzon

      thanks Jim…willl get on that

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Howard, in the meantime, if a private company wants to get a ticker, is there someone at StockTwits or Second Market they should contact? There’s an Inc 5000 company that I think might be interested in this.

        1. howardlindzon

          just ping chris at stocktwits dot com

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks, will do.

    2. Chris Corriveau

      Here is just the start. We will try to make this data as widely available as possible…

  7. gbattle

    “And Stocktwits and Second Market can make my life easier by making sure that companies like Alacra and Wikinvest that don’t have private company symbols get them asap. I wonder if they should open up this database in some way so that companies can issue themselves tickers. It seems like trying to manage this as a closed system won’t scale very well and some kind of open system will work better.”hold on Fred, let me rewrite this:”And Twitter and Foursquare can make my life easier by making sure that companies like BLANK and BLANK that don’t have ubiquitous status messages and crowdsourced LBS identification get them asap. I wonder if they should open up this database in some way so that companies can issue themselves services in a decentralized fashion. It seems like trying to manage this as a closed system won’t scale very well and some kind of open system will work better.”smh. 😉

    1. fredwilson

      what is your point? i am not sure i understand

      1. gbattle

        I’m illuminating that your call for openness is self-serving and possibly hypocritical in light of your portfolio interests.I rewrote your statement from the perspective of someone not invested in Twitter or 4sq desiring real decentralized openness to further the greater good/his or her own interests, a dream we both know will never happen. The truth is, there are no centralized “open” platforms, only fauxpen platforms that externalize revenue and customer discovery today where the crowdsourced rewards are recouped/reclaimed by the centralizing authority in the future. This is not a bad thing and is a huge value accelerator (maybe the *only* real value accelerator going forward), but I can’t sit here and listen to a call for openness from someone invested in two of the fastest growing iconic yet closed systems on the planet.

        1. byrneseyeview

          Wouldn’t it be analogous to Foursquare location descriptions, or Twitter handles and hashtags? i.e. I identify myself as @byrneseyeview on Twitter; it’s open in the sense that I didn’t have to ask permission. And I’ve created and edited venues on Foursquare, too.What is so closed about Twitter and Foursquare? They both seem designed to let other people do interesting things with them.

          1. gbattle

            I apologize for this is a digression from the main conversation, but you’ve fallen prey to the Jedi Mind of platforms being open – “this is not the revenue accelerator you’re looking for.”Indeed, Twitter and 4sq are designed to let other people do interesting things with them … wait for it … for the benefit of WHOM? Who owns @byrneseyeview and the social graph around it? After the innovations done by MagPie, and TweetUp, Twitter comes in and reclaims the space, killing the tweet ad innovation right when Twitter believes there’s an actual monetizable business there. I’m not beating up on Fred or Twitter really, because it’s a universal that is employed by Apple with their iPhone SDK and review process, FB and their credits and swift-work wrangling of Zynga, ad infinitum.Nobody is going to tell you cannot seek out every revenue path over email because SMTP is actually open – it’s a protocol, not a platform. Same goes for HTTP, XMPP, etc. – decentralized control with egalitarian access. Don’t be sold open when you’re receiving closed.

          2. daryn

            Protocol versus Platform is an important distinction.

          3. gbattle

            Protocol vs. platform is THE distinction when discussing anything regarding the term “open.”To compare messaging platform to messaging protocol, which is more open, Twitter’s API stack or NNTP driving the old school newsgroups of yore?

          4. daryn

            Hear, hear.

          5. fredwilson

            “twitter reclaims the space and kills innovation”?????as far as i know tweetup and are still actively operating and innovatingyou are the one who has fallen prey to the jedi mindi am sick and tired of a small group of disgruntled people bashing twitter for being closed and for supposedly bad behaviori have never been involved with a company that has worked harder to keep both their service and their data stream open for third party innovation at significant cost to them and lost profit opportunities

          6. gbattle

            Fred and Aaron, I’m not against Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Con Edison, or any platform provider for that matter, making money. Indeed, Twitter has gone to greater lengths than most platforms to delay levying a tax on usage, a testament to a delayed gratification maxim that is well earned but rare. They’ve worked hard to keep the service free for, ironically, the instant gratification developers who want to use their platform. However, Twitter is also the greatest beneficiary of externalized innovation on their private platform, and reclaiming the highest value externalized innovation on the Twitter platform isn’t “bad behavior,” it is smart business, but it does come at a cost, namely, trust. These aren’t knocks, these are the realities of all platform providers vs. the constituents who use them over the lifetime of the platform. Again, what I’m against is people wrapping up “free access today” and the term “open.” Again, free != open.

          7. David Semeria

            ‘Open’ is meaningless these days. Everyone with half an ounce of hipness is ‘open’.The key point is where is the data is stored and who can turn off the spigot.That said, twitter and 4 sq are no worse than anyone else.Only time will tell us if it will all end in tears…

          8. Andrew Bellay

            Fred, can we get a full post on this? Shame this is buried in the comments of rather unrelated post.

          9. stevenwillmott

            “Indeed, Twitter and 4sq are designed to let other people do interesting things with them … wait for it … for the benefit of WHOM? Who owns @byrneseyeview and the social graph around it?” – for the benefit of @bymesyeview – if there was no benefit, the user wouldn’t be there, if there was no benefit, app developers wouldn’t bother. Yes, twitter holds the data, but if they didn’t and hadn’t it would never have emerged as a neutral regulated distributed system. Yes twitter has changed the rules of the game at certain times and flirted with upsetting the ecosystem, but no one has been forced to do anything, nor lied to.Twitter is actually the one company you really cannot say this about – if you wanted to, you could effectively export all data about yourself, your social graph and almost everybody else out of the system – that’s as little locked in as I can think of. Even the terms of service are pretty liberal (you own your tweets).The openness I assume you’re referring too is that a “twitter-like” service could be operated by a committee or consortium with a set of fixed rules. Fine – maybe one day it could happen but a) i very much doubt twitter would exist today if one company had not just gone out and done it, b) just take a look at pretty much any of the standards bodies out there and look at what a political hash they often make of a decision – I’ve seen many things killed for the interest of one company or another. Having a company steward what becomes a public resource for a good length of time can often be by far the best way to create something that really works – and luckily with twitter I think they’ve made largely good calls to date on where they should draw their lines.

          10. gbattle

            Rather than debate the vicissitudes of Twitter and its policies alone – which was never my intent and I apologize for steering the conversation in that direction – I’ll simply state that generally, platform ubiquity and freedom always comes at an explicit or implicit cost aligned with the service provider. Platform necessity is debatable, but platform providers goal of creating sustainable businesses is not. My calling platforms “fauxpen”, centralized and closed isn’t a swipe or dig, but a more authentic description encompassing the total cost of innovation. Compare this to the total cost of innovating on open protocols such as SMTP, NNTP, OPML, SMS, XMPP, POTS, VoIP, etc. As you’ve stated, the standardization of communication protocols can be long, arduous and tedious. All I ask is look at the cost/benefit analysis of the protocol stack vs. the platform stack and compare the overall value creation.

          11. stevenwillmott

            I understand what you’re trying to say and I guess we’ve debated the point out (and that twitter was not necessarily the target) – however openness is also close to my heart and I still think there is a misconception here. The correct comparison for me would not be SMTP v’s Twitter. It would be SMTP v’s the *twitter API specification*. Why? – because it’s actually the APi spec which is the shared good – twitter itself is actually just an instance of it that happens to provide the service.In the SMTP analogy – yes, the protocol is open and anybody can implement, however any of those resulting providers could have good/bad behaviour to it’s partners. Any of them could behave well or badly with respect to people using it’s SMTP services (e.g. “i own all your email).Now granted, twitter’s API is not a public good (it’s copyright twitter), but it’s been widely mimicked and it seems twitter accepts this, further it’s publicly accessible, many different systems integrate with it and if twitter did one day disappear, the API is not difficult to recreate even from scratch.So twitter moving it’s business goals for me is legitimate because this is “twitter the service provider” versues “twitter the protocol”. People who built business on the the basis that twitter the service provider would never change it’s model we’re (respectfully) being rather naive. Of course if twitter goes too far, in theory people could build another twitter (which even communicated with the first) that served their needs better (although it would also need a viable business model.So what I’m saying is compare apples with apples – the SMTP/XMPP level of discussion relates to the twitter API rather than twitter as a service provider. Of course today twitter dominates the field, so it shouldn’t abuse its position, but I would say it’s open enough to indeed allow other micro-blogging platforms to link in and grow.

          12. gbattle

            We’ve indeed hit the major points in this digression. When 75% of Twitter platform activity is via the API, then yes, the comparison of Twitter to protocols is qualified and valid even by your standard. There’s nothing pejorative about the comparison either. It just is. And I clearly love Twitter (@gbattle), Apple, Disqus, Google, Tumblr,, but I use them all with eyes wide open about centralized ownership of proprietary technology/data and would never call any of them “open” platforms. Not a bad thing. I’m not anti-platform in the least. I’m pro authenticity when labeling services.G-Mobile

        2. Aaron Klein

          Let’s just get over this, now. This has got to be the umpteenth comment about Fred blogging in his self-interest.DUH.All of us who have blogs and advocate for policy of any kind to develop in a certain way do so because it is either in our self-interest or belief system. And when a large community comes together that has mutual self-interest and beliefs, that can help change policy in a positive way.If you disagree, fine — argue your point. But arguing that someone’s point of view is invalid because they have self-interest is ridiculous.

          1. fredwilson

            i don’t object to someone calling me self interested. i am.i object to someone calling me a hypocrite. i am not.

          2. Aaron Klein

            In every investment I’ve made, I want what I own to be proprietary and valuable, and I want the pieces I depend on but don’t own to be cheap, open and commoditized.Google Search = proprietary and valuableGoogle Android = an effort to make mobile phones cheap, open and commoditizedThat’s not hypocritical. It’s the way good businesses work.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            To be fair, Greg said your “your call for openness” was “…possibly hypocritical”. That’s not quite the same as him calling you a hypocrite. Also, although the two of you disagree on the definition of “open” in the context of services such as Twitter, Greg acknowledged that the current configuration of Twitter and Foursquare was “not a bad thing and is a huge value accelerator”. That sounds more like praise of your portfolio companies than a swipe at them. Greg just seems to disagree with your contention that they are “open”. That you have taken uncharacteristic offense at Greg’s comment makes me wonder if there is some other conflict below the surface here. Are you really this pissed off at Greg or is some of your anger aimed at people who have criticized $TWIT and $4SQ?

          4. fredwilson

            time to get on the couch

        3. fredwilson

          that’s not fair to me or our portfolio companiestwitter is one of the most open services out there. anyone can publish almost anything they want on it. and there are a tremendous number of users of the api doing all sorts of things on the twitter stream without any need for permission from twitter.the idea that twitter is somehow “closed” is bullshitand please don’t call me a hypocrite. i am far from that.

          1. gbattle

            Fred, you’ve ignored my entire point regarding openness with respect to platforms which I speak to above, verses protocols which I speak to below. There will never be and can never can be an SMTP or XMPP “tax” on protocol usage, only on implementations thereof. Also note, I did not take a swipe at either Twitter nor Foursquare exclusively – I don’t believe calling them “iconic” is negative – I simply stated that privately owned centralized platforms can never be open, ever, including the likes of Apple’s iPhone SDK, Facebook’s platform stack, and yes, That’s neither a knock on any of their utility nor genius, but my point of contention is when people conflate the idea that a centralized privately controlled service can ever be deemed “open.” Which of these is open, Con Edison (electricity utility in NYC) or electricity itself? I have no ire with any company providing a centralized utility with an explicit or implicit tax – scaling innovation via utility has been, as stated above, the greatest value accelerator out there – but to call it “open” is disingenuous. Free != open.

    2. fredwilson

      so i got pissed off enough your unwarranted swipe at me and my portfolio that i looked up your profilemaybe you should have disclosed that you are a paid consultant to bit.lyit is a bit relevant to this discussion, no???

      1. gbattle

        I no longer work for and I do not have a capital interest in their success or demise, but I’m flattered that you were pissed off enough to look.

    3. Mark Essel

      Many other companies would receive the benefit of ubiquitous status and LBS identification, not just AVC’s portfolio companies. So we’d be building brand for startups over the pipes controlled by Twitter/Facebook/Foursquare/etc.Looks fine to me.

  8. Herve Lebret

    FredI am not sure to understand the real need. Private companies do not have to publish much, not to say anything and you are not even sure the info is always correct right? For example, the amount of money raised with angels and VCs is of interest but even for public companies, it is something you do not always find (if for example they were private for a long time). History of management teams is the same. I understand that when you manage tons of data, it’s convenient. I have a database of 2’700 companies related to Stanford (public, private, acquired, dead, …) I am doing research on and managing my data is not easy, but this is private info I got and built myself. I am not sure it would be easy to gather again and having tickers would be nice, but would not change much the situation. So what would be the benefit? Can you give me examples that I would not have with crunchbase, linksv for example? (and even worse, the info is not always consistent…

    1. byrneseyeview

      There’s a big difference between thinking about the company and thinking about the investment. There are lots of people who think Google is evil and $GOOG is fantastic.The information isn’t necessarily accurate, but the point is not to have perfect information, just to aggregate a certain kind of information.The conversation about how Open Graph should impact someone creating a consumer web service is orthogonal to the conversation about how Open Graph’s data could help $FBOOK target ads better, thus raising their revenue materially. Better to have specific venues for each part of the conversation.

      1. fredwilson

        i think apple is evil and $aapl is fantastic

        1. howardlindzon

          thats classic and a tweeeet

  9. howardlindzon

    Thanks Fred. I remember when you first noticed me using $fbook about 8 months ago

    1. fredwilson

      i remember that now

    2. Mark Essel

      I just accepted it like a # hash at that point

  10. Brian Willingham

    Interesting thought Fred. For people in my business who deal with large datasets, this would be extremely helpful in weeding out information relating to a specific businesses, especially smaller privately held businesses where information is hard to come by. This would be especially helpful for large data aggregators that gather information from multiple sources.

  11. Morgan Warstler

    is $ universal on keyboards?If so tell stocktwits to hit up ICANN for $dotalso wouldn’t twitter be able to start linking /resolving $SYMB to their respective domain

    1. howardlindzon

      thx Morgan.

  12. ostiguy

    Fred, A lot of tools cannot differentiate between NYSE:PRU and LON:PRU. That nut should be better cracked before worrying about private companies.These guys never replied to my question:http://blog.recordedfuture….For those who don’t follow the markets UK PRU made a huge acquisition offer, which impacted their share price negatively. As FT alphaville is a UK centric site, mining it for correlation to S&P 500 returns (a US centric index, containing the US NYSE listed PRU)

    1. OSTIGUY

      … would be problematic, if you cannot confirm you understand UK vs US pru. Given the frequency which “PRU” was found, it is highly probably they couldn’t discern which was which

    2. Dave Pinsen

      We ran into this issue when working with the Thomson Reuters ($TRI on StockTwits) API in preparing our entry for $TRI’s StreetApps Challenge. If memory serves, because Thomson Reuters tracks stock quotes from multiple exchanges globally, they add an extension to the symbol to indicate the exchange (e.g., I think “.N” indicates that a stock trades on the NYSE).

    3. John Frankel

      As there are no exchanges that quote prices this will not be an issue, yet. If there become multiple price sources then once can pre-fix or post-fix the ticker with the exchange’s own “ticker”

  13. Aviah Laor

    Since positioning should be one wordemail three sentencesand presentations six slideswhy not compress all the info into the ticker?$make revenues$$ profitable$$$ hyper-prfits> traction growing>> traction grows fast>>> hyper tractionand <, <<, <<< for decline>>>$$FBOOK<<<$MYSPACEand off course: $>DPSHT

    1. howardlindzon

      very very interesting but we lets walk before we run. great idea though for the real ticker side. thx

  14. goldwerger

    I think this is an extremely good idea.It probably makes sense to have a registrar concept, as in web domains, that let’s the companies choose their own tickers (I see that our company is one of the few in that initial list, which I absolutely love; we would probably want to select our own ticker, if it were available). Perhaps Stocktwits, Second Market, and one or two additional companies can form a non-profit standard-setting body that will have a web interface that allows companies to manage their ticker selection, or that will ceritfy authorized registrars, while getting some unique benefit for taking the effort of providing us with this value-added service.Stocktwits and Second Market are doing something very exciting. I am thrilled.Eyal GoldwergerCEO, TargetSpot

    1. howardlindzon

      email me and we will pick out a fresh ticker for you in our database howard at lindzon dot com.thx Eyal

    2. vruz

      This central authority, registrar idea is a lot better than the idea of a distributed, self-policed system.Chains of trust and logs of who changed what and who was who when they did what… that would be extremely hard to get right without a central authority.

  15. Adrian Scott

    What we really need are tickers for VC Funds and individual angel investors, imho. Then toss in some options.Ever wanted to straddle (or ‘strangle’) a VC? Now you can. (These are terms for options, fyi.)Or short large funds and go long on small funds…Want to make a play on who will land the next Foursquare financing? Go long before the result is known and then cash out…And then get this all rolling on Betfair and Intrade… 😉

  16. Bruce

    Overall I agree, but I’m not sure “ticker” is the end of the story. A stock ticker like GOOG is a reference to a specific equity issue of a company trading on a specific exchange. While it is often used to refer to the company, it actually needs to be prefixed by the exchange issuing the symbol to be unique, and there can be many stock tickers for a single company (e.g., common, preferred, ADRs, etc.). So while I like the idea of using the “ticker” as a unique shorthand for a private company, it should be viewed as a convenient shorthand, not the actual canonical name.Another alternative, and one we use at DigitalScirocco for aligning content across items and sources, is to use the emerging pragmatic, community-based semantic classification growing around wikipedia et al. In particular, of the many external forms and concepts related to Google, there is one of “type” company, the canonical name.A good system will recognize either the company name or the company “ticker” as referring to the company (or the stock, as appropriate to the context), but also know that the ticker is in fact a ticker symbol related to the company, not the company $0.02, although you didn’t pay for it, so perhaps worth even less…

    1. fredwilson

      that’s an interesting ideanot very different from what Kellen is suggesting elsewhere in this thread

  17. Ben Ackles

    Chris Messina, who is now working at Google along with Stowe Boyd proposed a $ ticker microsyntax more than a year ago. Although I know you’re describing a database of $tickers, the idea has been around for quite some time.Here’s the link to the working group…

  18. John Frankel

    Fantastic idea. People underestimate the value to a market by having common nomenclature. Once the tickers are established they need to be everywhere – easy to follow as lists (for news), prices (based on last sale, for those that are traded), easy to see analytics around these etc. Simply what would a Bloomberg be without tickers, and imagine how much of Bloomberg you could replicate once you have them. Tickers allows applications to grow, and we have the public markets as the analogue for what those applications should be.Once again, a fantastic idea.

    1. howardlindzon

      thx John. high praise.

  19. ppearlman

    thanks fred. u are talking our book! :)we will of course do our part to spread a universal private company ticker system and will encourage foster this we already have a wordpress plugin that enables blogs with automatic live links to specific stocktwits if i use $TWIT or $ETSY in the text of a post, it will become a hyperlink leading users to the real time conversation regarding that company.u can find it here:

  20. stevenwillmott

    I think this is an important idea and as already commented above not just for excel/database number crunching, but for the web in general. Having unique IDs for companies is something which allows you to glue a lot of things around – those ID’s put together with some semantics can help pull together more complete pictures of companies from across the web (e.g. see mentioned URIs above – it’s a good anology, but actually the most important thing you need is an institution to managed the identifiers – it doesn’t have to be centralized or “formal” it just needs to be recognized by enough people to get traction (and to manage the namespace sensibly). So yes, stocktwits and secondmarket should go “open” with it and create a registry – consider teaming up with crunchbase and a bunch of other directories even.and give it an API 😉

    1. vruz

      Good to know! Not sure they will want to cooperate with Stocktwits though.I wouldn’t be surprised if they saw Stocktwits as a potential competitor on that front.

  21. ShanaC

    I keep thinking that this may be a good idea if only because over the long term, it probably will standardize across exchanges naming conventions. Names are sticky, and frankly the fact that there are different naming conventions across exchanges is a long term killer. If you get a ton of people to sign up for this methodology, and manage to get the computing side all right, you may end up forcing changes about how we name stocks, etc, in general.

  22. vruz

    it’s not easy to make something like this distributed.even in the case of publicly traded companies like (the company formerly known as) Sun Microsystems and a centralised system like NASDAQ’s, it was a very bad idea that caused trouble when they changed their traditional symbol SUNW to JAVA, merely for marketing purposes.changing symbols periodically without a trusted authority is a certain recipe for disaster, and leaves room for plenty of scam schemes beyond what we can anticipate.tackling trusted relationships with a central authority is difficult enough. a distributed trusted relationships system is several orders of magnitude harder.why not just establishing a standarisation body for some loose coordination between Stocktwits and some of the leading companies in the private market?I don’t say that it can’t be done, I’m just saying that it’s a lot easier to have some loose centralised coordination between a few hundred companies, than creating an overengineered system that can potentially open the door to a lot of trouble. just not worth it.

  23. Niko

    I guess I don’t really see who this is supposed to benefit. Is it people looking to fund companies? To create a searchable database of private companies?I work for a small-mid size private healthcare-finance technology company with proprietary data mining algorithms. We were initially funded by our partners, and we’re profitable enough to fund expansion and R&D. Why would I want/need a ticker?We have no particular need for investment, but somehow the VCs are banging at our doors to the point of annoyance without us having a ticker symbol.What would this change?I know this is a VC blog, so maybe I’m trolling the wrong crowd, but would it be just to help VCs and companies searching for investment to find one another? I dunno… you guys seem pretty good at discovering one another as it is.Either I’m missing something, or this might just be a clever idea in search of an application…

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