3. Renaissance Technologies LLC
Renaissance Technologies is one of the largest hedge funds in the world, with a portfolio of over $15 billion in assets. Like many large hedge funds, Renaissance is known for using a secret “black box” formulas. These black boxes are the cornerstones of the ability of these funds to predict price changes and market movement. The equations are produced by many specialists with non-financial backgrounds, including mathematicians, statisticians, physicists, and even astrophysicists. Theses “secrets” are the keys to out-performances of the market, and their success or lack of success puts billions of dollars of client investments at risk, or helps bring more capital into these investment operations. Hedge funds like Renaissance are known for being extremely careful with security entering and leaving the office, often prohibiting employees from bringing in personal computers, cameras, or flash drives which they could use to steal company algorithms.
4. Google Inc.
Google is so dominant in the search engine business that the company’s name has become synonymous with searching the Web. As a result of its success entire industries have been established to help improve companies improve search engine results for their websites. To maintain its superiority, the company keeps its search algorithm shrouded in secrecy. And in order to keep search engine optimizers guessing, Google frequently improves upon their algorithm, with 550 improvements in 2010 alone.
5. Boeing Co.
It’s not a surprise that the government keeps military information confidential. This holds true for publicly held companies who work with the military as well, including aerospace and defense corporation Boeing. The company keeps its research projects under wraps to shield sensitive military operations and to stay ahead of its competitors. The company is responsible for top-secret technology including the Milstar II, a surveillance plane capable of producing high-detail satellite maps in-flight, and key components for the strategic missile defense system. The company’s employees have such high security clearances that the Chinese government inserted one operative to work as an engineer. Former Boeing employee Dongfan “Greg” Chung, was convicted this summer of “six counts of economic espionage and other federal charges for storing 300,000 pages of sensitive papers in his Southern California home. Prosecutors alleged the papers included information about the U.S. space shuttle, a booster rocket and military troop transports.”
6. Monsanto Co.
The Monsanto Company, an international, agricultural, biotechnology super corporation, has gone to great lengths over the years to protect its valuable intellectual property. According to the company’s website, its researchers pioneered genetic engineering in plants, discovering how to transfer a specific piece of DNA from one organism to another to do create “value-added biotech traits.” In order to protect its intellectual property, the company has sued about 150 farmers over patent infringement. The company also has a history of bribing officials to avoid government investigations. In 2005, the company was fined $1.5 million for having Indonesian officials bribed to avoid an environmental impact study on its cotton crops.
PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is a data encryption company owned by Symantec, one of the world’s largest security software companies. PGP uses a secret, complex algorithm to encrypt email and other priority files sent between businesses. In recent investigations, the FBI, British police, the Italian police and US Customs agents were unable to access files encrypted with PGP and were forced to demand the electronic key to decode them. In 1996, a well-regarded cryptographer characterized an earlier version of PGP’s algorithm protection as “the closest you’re likely to get to military-grade encryption.”
8. The Coca-Cola Company
When Coca-Cola was first created 120 years ago the recipe was kept so secret that only two men knew what actually went into it. According to Mark Pendergrast’s “For God, Country & Coca-Cola,” the labels were removed from the ingredients so not even the employees knew what was being used to make the tonic. In the early 20th century, then company chief Ernest Woodruff, made Coca-Cola’s “secret formula” critical to its image, distinguishing it from other brands and appealing to customers’ desire for something special and unique. Although a number of recipes have been published as the original, the company refuses to acknowledge or even consider their authenticity.
-Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter, Douglas A. McIntyre