Long, long ago in a previous century, when a company was for sale, it created a data room as a place for all the due diligence documents. Various suitors sent their accountants, bean counters, attorneys, and commercial spies to look. It was a dodgy affair.
It took the form of an actual room where interested buyers could view all the documents relevant to the target business. Nothing was allowed to leave the room. All participants signed a non-disclosure document.
Then along came fax machines. To save time, people asked for financial statements to be faxed to them. The thermal fax paper would fade, and so would the information.
A little while later the internet arrived. Then people sent all sorts of information in an electronic format, to be stored forever on the recipients’ servers. And nobody thought this was strange. There were clauses in the non-disclosure documents (if they were ever signed) which called for the destruction of all information on demand. I remember that happening once. By deal-time, everybody was just so chuffed that they either had a business or a chunk of cash. In some cases, competitors had some interesting information on the business.
More recently people started sharing dropbox links, and similar accessibilities. And then one day people woke up to the fact that trusted people shared those links with gay abandon. Control could be easily lost.
Enter the virtual data room
A virtual data room gives control of the data back to the owner of the data. He can put information into it in layers, requiring more and more permission to progress. The owner can revoke permission whenever he wants, for whoever he wants.
He can control the sort of access the visitors have. From a curtained view window to a full-screen online view, to full downloadable access, and some steps between. If he sets up his room properly, when he revokes permission, even downloaded documents will become unreadable.
21st Century stuff.