Lemonade and Bumble are the latest companies to experiment with new mass technology communication tools to connect with retail investors.
On April 27, Shai Wininger, Lemonade’s co-founder, president and chief operations officer, participated in a live Q&A – dubbed a town hall – with retail investors on the commission-free trading app Public.com. Bumble’s founder and CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herde, followed suit with a town hall on May 17.
Investors in the two companies were invited to submit questions to the executives in advance and told to expect answers during the live, typed Q&A. Wininger answered 39 questions, while Wolfe Herde answered 24 questions.
The topics ranged from business-oriented questions about the outlook during Covid-19 and new product launches to questions about diversity, equality and inclusion, hiring practices and details about the companies’ journeys.
Leif Abraham, co-CEO of Public.com, believes the influx of new retail investors – due to both commission-free trading platforms and people having more time to invest during the pandemic – places an onus on IR teams to develop communication channels for them.
Speaking to IR Magazine shortly after the Lemonade town hall, Abraham said: ‘We see people are now true believers in the companies they invest in. When you look at the questions in the Lemonade town hall, they’re from passionate customers. These people have never had a chance to ask questions of the people who run these companies. Earnings calls are for bankers and analysts. I think there’s a change, as companies recognize that there’s a overlap of customers and investors.’
Jason Robins, co-founder and CEO at DraftKings, will be the next public company executive to take part in a town hall on Public.com. His session is scheduled for June 9.
According to a recent IR Magazine research report into retail investors, 29 percent of public companies have experienced an increase in retail shareholders during the last 12 months, while 27 percent have seen an increase during the last three years.
The Lemonade and Bumble trials of town halls on Public.com are the latest in a series of experiments with retail investors. This earnings season, seven public companies – including Tesla, Coinbase and Lemonade – used Say, a technology tool that allows retail shareholders to pre-submit questions and upvote their favorites. The tool is not dissimilar to the Slido tool that has been used by a small group of public companies – including Zillow Group and Axon – to manage Q&A in the past.
Elsewhere, RBI, CarParts.com and SmileDirectClub have all experimented with hosting post-earnings chats on the audio social networking site Clubhouse.
Finally, Coinbase and Axon have both experimented with hosting Reddit Ask Me Anything sessions – with the former garnering hundreds of questions ahead of its direct listing earlier this year.