On Tuesday, September 14th, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced its first enforcement action against an alternative data provider, charging the company App Annie Inc. with securities fraud. App Annie and Bertrand Schmitt, its co-founder and former CEO and Chairman, have agreed to pay more than $10 million in a settlement with the SEC on these charges. 
While this marks the SEC’s first enforcement action against an alternative data provider, it likely will not be its last, as the use of alternative data in the financial and investment sphere continues to rise.  Alternative data (“alt-data”) is data which goes beyond that of traditional corporate financial statements and helps guide investment strategies.  Examples of alt-data include mobile device data, credit card transactions, satellite imagery data, product reviews, and even social media activity. 
This type of data can be instrumental in making sound investment decisions when it is paired with traditional data from corporate sources, because it provides a broader view of a company’s financial viability.  However, it is notoriously difficult to aggregate and analyze given its vast breadth – it’s estimated that the world produces at least 2.5 quintillion bytes of such data daily.  This is where companies like App Annie come in.