More than 150 years later, a Seattle-based technology firm istransforming Melvill's eloquent sentiments from words topictures--creating a potentially useful tool for commercial realestate and other industries. The five-year-old company, IntellectSpace, created anapplication called MarketVisual, whichinteractively shows relationships between people and companies.

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"It creates on-demand maps that help to visualize and understandrelationships between people and companies. Think of it as 'sixdegrees of separation from Kevin Bacon', but for business,"explains Sandro Gvelesiani, CEO and president of IntellectSpace.The application draws on SEC disclosures, corporate announcementsand other unstructured data that is in the public domain toidentify and visualize complex relationships and spheres ofinfluence.

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Using proprietary natural language processing, the applicationmaps the name of a person or business. The result is a diagram orKnowledge Map that reveals key interrelationships and spheres ofinfluence among companies, executives and institutions. "KnowledgeMaps connect the dots by explaining business and personalconnections, providing an at-a-glance understanding of complexties," Gvelesiani explains. "They help you visualize and understandthe relationships that drive decisions and createopportunities."

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The product has its roots in the corporate scandals of 2002. "Iwas reading the Wall Street Journal and thinking about the billionsof dollars that were lost, and thought to myself that it would beextremely useful to aggregate multiple pieces of information intoone simple paradigm. With that information, an investor couldperhaps avoid mistakes," Gvelesiani said. The objective is toquantify and make sense of scattered pieces of information, or asGvelesiani puts it, provide investors with "actionable intelligencerather than just raw data."

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"We look at information with respect to links and notesavailable in the marketplace on companies, people, organizations,government entities, education, mutual funds and industries. Theselinks bind two entities together. For example; board positions,executive positions, suppliers, partners, family members, educationand government are often linked together," he said.

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The application can help an investor determine whether apotential independent board member actually has connections to topmanagement or allow a CRE professional to capitalize onrelationships between potential buyers, sellers and tenants. It canalso offer insight into mergers and acquisitions, the companyboasts. Take, for example, last year's $26-billion merger betweenprivate equity giant Blackstone and Hilton Hotels, one of theworld's largest hotel chains.

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NewsVisual, a blogpowered by IntellectSpace, reports that senior leadershiplikely led the merger discussions, based on its analysis ofmultiple Knowledge Maps. Hilton board member John Notter andBlackstone vice chair Hamilton James shared board seats at CreditSuisse First Boston, and could have helped to spur discussions, thesite suggests.

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It then capitalized on the idea that James was key to the deal,and mapped his connections with former Hilton Hotel CEO StephenBollenbach. "Viewing this Knowledge Map shows thatBollenbach and James both share board seats with Flagstar CompaniesInc./FCI Chairman James Adamson. Bollenbach sits on Kmart's boardwith Adamson and James sits on FCI's Board with Adamson. Adamsoncould have played a key role in bringing these powerhousestogether," it suggests.

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It's just speculation whether the deal actually unfolded thatway. However, the application does demonstrate that there arepotential stories behind stories--and that relationships can drivedeal flow.

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