Before the creation of the Pink Sheets, OTC markets were fragmented and inefficient. In the early 1900s it was the custom of bond houses, investors, investment dealers and brokers to offer securities, both new and outstanding issues, through advertisements in financial publications and in the financial pages of the leading daily newspapers. Also, they prepared circulars, which described the offerings and distributed these to their clients and to other investment firms. In 1904, Roger W. Babson, the financier who founded Babson College, established a statistical organization to collect this information. Mr. Babson's organization, based in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, sought out every source of bond offering information. They systematized this voluminous amount of information about issues and quotations into a once-a-month publication.
In 1911, a Boston-based financial book publisher turned his office over to the care of his assistant and boarded a train to New York. His errand was to consult with investment dealers and brokers; and half the country's investment firms were to be found in lower Manhattan. Calling on one investment dealer after another, he asked, "Would you support a service that told you each day the securities in which other dealers and brokers were interested, the amounts they were willing to buy and sell and the prices bid and asked?" Dealers said yes. And the publisher, Arthur F. Elliot, returned to Boston, brought his publishing business to New York and there organized the original service of reporting daily security quotations of investment dealers and brokers in the OTC market.
Mr. Elliot's and Mr. Babson's organizations and services complemented each other, making the combining of the two a natural step. Accordingly, the two services were consolidated and The National Quotation Bureau was organized in October of 1913.
By this time market quotations were being reported each day for firms in five Eastern cities, and plans were laid to extend the service more widely to other financial communities throughout the country. The NQB used the latest in telecommunications and printing technology to rapidly extended its service westward to city after city, and within a few years it was reporting quotations for dealers and brokers in more than 50 centers from coast to coast. The Pink SheetsTM, the Yellow SheetsTM and the Stock and Bond Summaries became integral tools for OTC Dealers and OTC Investors.
The privilege of publishing quotations has always been available only to registered broker/dealers. In the past, broker/dealers wanting to publish quotations had to satisfy financial net worth standards and disclosure requirements. They had to provide financial information and references from banks and two New York Stock Exchange member firms. Firms had to provide ten-year histories of each partner, officer, principal stockholder and trader. A statement of clearance arrangements was also required. The establishment of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission through the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the National Association of Securities Dealers through the Maloney Act amendments to the Exchange Act in 1938, created a system to regulate and oversee broker-dealers and the OTC market. At the outset, the NQB had imposed higher standards than the SEC or NASD on OTC Market Makers. In the early sixties, the quotation service was opened to any broker/dealer registered with the SEC and thus, by default, any NASD member.
In 1963, NQB was purchased by a big conglomerate, Commerce Clearing House. CCH was a publisher of reference books. They viewed the NQB products as books and therefore did not want to invest in new technologies. Thus in response to market needs, the NASD established The NASDAQ Stock Market®, a real-time dealer quote service. Using technology to improve markets, NASDAQ® has become a huge success.
NQB continued as a paper-based publisher, turning out fewer books and fewer quotes.
In 1997, the NQB came into the hands of a new management group dedicated to using leading edge technology to improve the services offered to customers. Just like Mr. Elliot, NQB made another pilgrimage to its customers in the OTC trading community. One after another said, "We want a real time quotation service." As a result, in September of 1999, NQB introduced the Electronic Quotation Service, a leading edge Internet based real-time quotation service for OTC equities and bonds.
In June of 2000, NQB changed its name to Pink Sheets LLC and introduced www.otcmarkets.com a premier financial web portal for information about OTC securities trading and issuers.
Dedicated to serving the OTC markets for almost 90 years and empowered by the Internet, Pink Sheets has transformed itself to be a vital information and software application provider for OTC markets in the years to come.
In April 2008, Pink Sheets LLC announced that it changed its name to Pink OTC Markets Inc. The name change reflects both the company's conversion from a Delaware limited liability company to a Delaware corporation and more accurately communicates the company's preeminent position as a technology and financial information provider for the U.S. Over-the-Counter securities markets. Through its electronic quotation, trading and information platforms, Pink OTC Markets provides technology services and information that enable OTC market participants to communicate, connect and categorize, enhancing OTC market transparency, efficiency, and liquidity for broker-dealers, issuers, and investors.