Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How did you learn about Calcbench? When did you start using the platform? 

I first met [Calcbench co-founder and chief technology officer] Alex Rapp at a conference where he presented Calcbench as a beta-stage product; the year was 2012 or 2013. I thought it was cool tech. Following the conference, I spent time with Alex in Boston and started using Calcbench. 

As an early adopter it’s been great to see the development of the platform over the past decade — it’s changed a lot since the early days! It’s more complex and offers more features.  

Which features do you use on the platform? 

I started using Calcbench’s high-level financial data in my role at Audit Analytics to supplement the data Audit Analytics received from other data providers. My usage evolved into using data from the footnotes. Recently, I started digging into the text search feature. I like to search for information within specific footnotes. 

Depending on the type of the analysis that I am doing, I use either the Company-in-Detail or the Multi-Company page. For example, I recently used the Company-in-Detail page to compare 10-Q filings of the same company. See the excerpt below from my Substack article, Can SEC Comment Letters Shed Light on Crypto Accounting?

We used Calcbench’s Company-in-Detail page to compare Marathon Digital’s disclosure of Digital Currencies Policy between 10-Q filings for the three months ending on March 31, 2023, and June 30, 2023, and identified the following language added to the June 30, 2023 filing:

“Digital assets are included in current assets in the condensed consolidated balance sheets. In addition, digital assets provided as collateral for long-term loans were reported as Digital assets, restricted at December 31, 2022 and classified as long-term assets in the condensed consolidated balance sheets. During the first quarter of 2023, the long-term loan was terminated and the restrictions on digital assets lapsed (refer to NOTE 12 – DEBT, for further discussion).”

The added language could be related to the unresolved comments disclosed in Item 1B of the 10-K filing discussed above. (Interestingly, an SEC comment letter to Microstrategy (MSTR) publicly released on June 9, 2023, also raised questions about bitcoin used as collateral.)

For the recent research piece that I wrote for Calcbench, Understanding Changes to Non-GAAP reporting, I performed a bulk download from the Multi-Company page. 

By the way, I never had a demo from Calcbench. The platform is intuitive and easy to use. 

You have used the platform in academic and professional settings. Explain how that worked for both. 

In a professional setting, I use Calcbench to supplement other data sources. Calcbench helps me with trends analysis. For example, with Calcbench I can easily evaluate changes in disclosure to see where disclosures are moving. With Calcbench, I can understand the difference in ratios over time. 

For academic purposes I use Calcbench’s bulk data for statistical analysis. Calcbench data is in a machine-readable format and is easy to aggregate, which saves time. 

You’re familiar with other data platforms. What data can you get from Calcbench that you can’t get from other providers? 

Believe it or not, one of the variables that I look for, that’s not easy to get elsewhere, is number of shares. While that information may be available at big data providers, it can be expensive or may not be in the format that I need. 

A unique feature that Calcbench offers is XBRL custom tags. This feature is helpful when I need to pull the data related to a particular topic. Let's say I need to identify balances related to the fair value of  Level 3 securities. It is easy to search for "Level 3" XBRL tags and pull the relevant data.

A couple of other things that are not as popular with other providers: revisions and trace history and linking back to the original file. 

What other offerings would you like Calcbench to offer? 

I like getting alerts. It would be great if Calcbench could offer alerts on specific disclosures, such as if a specific phrase shows up in a particular footnote. For example, take discount rates. I would like to get an alert when a discount rate changes in a pension footnote. These days, I am using text search more often and would like to see an expansion of this search. 

Lastly, executive compensation is a hot topic. It would be helpful to how companies are integrating pay-for-performance into their disclosures. 


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