August 19, 2021

Retail Investor Q&A: Coming Soon to an Earnings Call Near You?

Last week, Robinhood announced (on its company blog) that it agreed to buy Say Technologies – the platform that makes it easier for retail shareholders to vote proxies and to ask earnings call questions in real-time. We’ll be watching the potential voting impact of this as we head into the next proxy season. But for now, let’s talk about earnings calls.

Tesla helped pave the trail for Say when it started using the technology for its earnings calls a couple years ago. Back in 2019 – which feels like forever ago – I wrote that Say claimed that retail investors are more likely to ask about products and less likely to care about your detailed financial results – a more entertaining experience for everyone, although possibly less informative for analysts who are honing financial models.

At the time, it didn’t seem like many people would actually find entertainment value in earnings calls, but now it’s 2021 and that’s what’s happening. I blogged a few months ago that a number of companies were courting retail participation in quarterly calls. They’ve had some success! AMC’s latest call was held on Say and yielded 4600 retail questions.

Robinhood and Say both want to make it easier for retail investors to participate as owners. In 2023, will the CEOs of big, established companies be answering questions about their corporate mascots? If I’ve taken one lesson to heart over the past two years, it’s that anything is possible. If you’re looking at using Say, your product development (and mascot) folks might end up with a bigger role in preparing for your quarterly calls.

Liz Dunshee