I've been looking at Dan Brickley's FOAFCorp ideas which show a fun way to map relationships between board members of corporations (c.f. They Rule). I'd like to extend it to describe relationships between the companies themselves, rather than their employees.
This could be done by describing the capital structure of a company but this would give you only a snapshot in time and would soon go out of date. Plus, it would only work for public companies who have to publish their share structures. An alternative way is to capture deal events as they happen and build up a picture of inter-company relationships. Types of deals to capture could include investment, divestment, merger, acquisition and perhaps more ephemeral deals such as product licensing, technology partnerships etc.
Much of this information is gathered already by companies such as Hoovers and Corpfin (nice list of deal types at bottom of page) but it's valuable information and they charge accordingly. I'm wondering whether there's any way of scraping this information from news pages such as Reuters feeds or Yahoo's press release archive.
I've already got a hugely scaleable news scraper (myRSS) which could be hooked up to a frame based parser that looks for phrases such as X buys Y, X takes shareholding in Y or X selects Y as supplier etc.
Of course there would be huge problems in disambiguating companies automatically, but that's another challenge...