Nasdaq acquires local software company

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BRATTLEBORO — A local company that was founded after investors started asking for more transparency from businesses has been sold to Nasdaq, Inc., a multinational financial services corporation that owns and operates the Nasdaq stock market and eight European Stock Exchanges.

In the early 2000s, a new breed of investors was asking questions that companies were struggling to answer. These investors wanted to know about the impact businesses have on the environment and what their social polices were before they invested their money. These investors became known as socially responsible investors and their questions and demands taxed the resources of companies both big and small.

Seeing a need for a tool to help companies respond to these questions, local businessman Jay Falk launched OneReport in 2003, which now operates out of a small office on High Street in Brattleboro.

On Feb. 3, Nasdaq, Inc. announced it had acquired OneReport to "accelerate the delivery of Nasdaq's recently announced ESG [environmental, social and governance] reporting and workflow solution, to be named Nasdaq OneReport ... [which] is now available to companies as part of the suite of solutions offered by Nasdaq's Corporate Services business."

"This is very exciting," said Janice Warren, who came on board at OneReport in 2006 as sales and marketing director. In 2012, Warren became the president of OneReport after it split off from SRI World Group, which was started in 1998 by Falk, who lives in Williamsville.

Falk launched OneReport to help corporations publish progress reports on how they've been integrating the principles of the U.N. Global Compact into day-to-day business operations and practices. OneReport was targeted to companies that had been for years releasing their financial information for investors to review but found themselves struggling to provide non-financial information about their environmental, social and governance models.

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"OneReport launched to satisfy the need of companies having to navigate this web of rating and reporting frameworks," said Warren. "It reflected the growing interest among investors that environmental, social and governance issues matter to a company's performance."

Thousands of companies now use the software program that was developed in Brattleboro when SRI World Group was located in the Cotton Mill. That software has continued to be refined over the years by OneReport's lead software engineer, Jeff Fournier, and his team in the office on High Street.

"Nasdaq OneReport will broaden our strategic engagement and collaboration with issuers who are seeking clarity on ESG reporting," stated Nelson Griggs, president of the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, in a press release announcing the acquisition. "We are strongly positioned to solve these challenges given the thousands of clients globally who rely on Nasdaq for counsel on a range of investor relations, governance, and sustainability-related issues."

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ESG data has increasingly become an important resource for investors seeking performance indicators, but also for public companies trying to increase operational efficiency, decrease resource dependency, and attract new customers and employees, states the press release.

"We provide support to mostly public companies that are navigating the world of environmental, social and governance reporting and responding to third parties asking those questions," said Warren, who spent 20 years working in Brattleboro at Boise Cascade, which later became Specialty Paperboard and finally FiberMark, before she became the marketing and communications manager for OneReport.

Warren said OneReport's software supports companies with reporting tools that help the companies collect the information needed to fill in the blanks on surveys conducted by the Global Reporting Initiative, the Carbon Disclosure Project, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Morgan Stanley Capital International, Sustainalytics, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., and Ethisphere.

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These organizations were asking multiple questions, and many of them were asking the same questions, including the ratio of CEO compensation to that of the median employee and the percentage of a company's board that is women or how ethnically diverse the board, or even the workforce, is. Investors also wanted to know what policies a company has to address social, human rights and environmental issues.

OneReport allows these companies to consolidate their information so they can provide reports that are responsive to investors and the multiple reporting agencies.

"The companies are doing it themselves using our platform, which supports their own work," said Warren. "OneReport allows them to answer investor questions and share metrics."

OneReport employs about 10 people, most of them right here in Brattleboro. Warren said while it's too early to say what the future might hold for OneReport, "We are certainly expecting to grow the business with the connections that Nasdaq has with public companies."

Falk started SRI World Group in 1999, a leading provider of online social investment and corporate social responsibility information services, and launched OneReport under its umbrella. SRI is also the parent company of CSRwire, a global newswire service for corporate responsibility press releases.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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