American Water Works goes virtual with its annual
American Water Works Co. Inc.
may not sound like it has the pipes to be in the vanguard of technology,
but it does.
Last year, the operator of water systems
posted a video version of its annual report on its Web site. At the time,
I poked a little fun at the dry nature of executives on camera reading the
often dull prose that’s endemic to nearly all annual reports.
Still, the company I’d expect to have a
full video annual report (Comcast
Corp.) doesn’t --
just 52 seconds of CEO
Brian L. Roberts hoping
shareholders will find the information on its investor relations site
“interesting and useful.”
In contrast, American Water must have
nearly an hour’s worth of video for this year’s version of its
video annual report. American Water is
also using Web tools to allow shareholders to submit questions for the May
7 annual meeting.
And stockholders who can’t make the trek to
Voorhees for the meeting in person will be able to
watch it via a live Web cast and even
cast or change a vote during the meeting.
While it’s not likely to be more popular
than any number of cat videos on YouTube, such online outreach is a big
change for shareholders as we begin annual meeting season.
Joining American Water in going virtual in
May are TechTeam Global Inc., of Southfield, Mich., and
Winland Electronics Inc., of Mankato, Minn.
What’s great is that by employing these
interactive Web tools, these companies are making it easier than ever for
shareholders to participate in corporate governance. However, one look at
what’s on the agenda for the American Water annual meeting indicates no
one should expect high drama.
For many companies, including American
Water, the annual meeting remains merely a required stamp of approval of
already chosen board members and the accounting firm for the current
For those who aren’t shareholders, the
virtual meeting doesn’t mean you get to watch all the action. Access is
limited to shareholders.
So some things haven’t changed. The price
of admission to a shareholders meeting remains owning at least one share.
Posted by Mike Armstrong @ 11:10 AM