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MGMT 215: Entrepreneurial Mindset (Lesser)

A Note on Researching Inactive Companies

Whether a company is no longer operational or is acquired by another company, it can become difficult to research. Since your research in this course is specifically focused on failed companies, you'll find that you may need to use different search strategies than you would use to learn about the current operations and performance of active companies.

This guide aims to help you develop those strategies. In addition to the information presented here, please keep in mind that you are encouraged to reach out to me. I can help you track down hard-to-find information via email or by appointment for not only this course but for any business and entrepreneurship-related research you undertake during your time at Penn State.

Getting Started

Finding Articles

Use the databases below to search for articles on the company you're researching in business-focused publications. I recommend limiting the types of publications you're searching in to:

  • Trade publications/trade journals - industry-focused publications written by experts in an industry for those interested in that industry
  • Magazines - publications like ForbesFortuneBloomberg Businessweek, etc. that are written for a wider, more general audience
  • Scholarly/academic journals - research articles written by professors and other researchers for an academic audience
  • Newspapers - publications like The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times for a wide audience

Whether to apply a publication date filter will depend on a few factors, including when the company was active, when it became inactive, and whether you are looking for articles from when it was operational versus articles looking back at its performance and failure. You will likely need to try multiple searches across several publications and/or databases to find different perspectives on the company you're researching.

To view the articles that are most relevant to your search, change the way results are sorted to RelevanceBest Match, etc.

Direct links to major publications


Additional Tips for Researching Former Public Companies

Public companies in the United States are required to file a number of reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission on a regular basis, including the 10-K, which is filed annually. If the company you're researching was public at the time it failed, looking at its last few 10-Ks and other SEC filings can provide insight.

The following companies have SEC filings available:

  • AltaVista Co - while AltaVista never successfully went public, they did attempt an initial public offering (IPO) in 1999. Their S-1, which is the initial form companies file when they go public, is available through EDGAR and contains information about their operations
  • Blockbuster Inc
  • Kmart Corp - filed under a few different names over the course of their history. Look under Kmart Corp, Kmart Holding Corp, and other related names
  • WeWork Inc - WeWork also had a failed IPO in 2019. Documents from that attempt are filed under the company name We Co.