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Electronic Participation in Shareholder Meetings

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"E-Meetings" Program Reference


E-Meetings Review

a project of

The Shareholder Forum

in support of its program for

Electronic Participation in Shareholder Meetings


Participant Questions

News Digest

Meeting Observations

Focus Report


May 28, 2010


Participant Questions and Comments


What services are needed to conduct a meeting with electronic participation?

Several corporate managers have asked about the technologies and services needed for electronic participation in a shareholders meeting. This, of course, will vary depending on your investor communication objectives (the subject of the next question, below) and your legal and administrative requirements (which will be addressed in the report of a special project workshop established a few weeks ago.) For the simplest process that satisfies compliance requirements, we’ve observed companies such as Warner Communications arrange online shareholder voting and questions at less than the costs of transportation and accommodation for a few board members. From there, as demonstrated by other examples we’ve observed, such as the previously reported meetings of American Water and Intel as well as today’s report on NVIDIA, you can add things like slides, video, two-way voice or video-conferencing, and a variety of pre-meeting communications such as investor surveys or business presentations. If you tell us what interests you, specifically, we’ll try to get the answers for you.


What are the investor communication objectives?

Both corporate managers and investors need to consider the specific objectives of meeting-related communications on a company-by-company basis. But it’s clear that there are also some broadly applicable objectives, such as providing shareholders with an opportunity to ask questions and observe responses. Understanding both the broad objectives and the range of specific ones will be critical to determining the requirements for fairness in meeting-related communications. Please let us know if you have any suggestions about what should be on the list of objectives.


Examining bad examples to understand what’s needed: 

>>> For the print story details, click here.

As you probably noticed, we have been trying to select examples of responsible, effective meetings to learn what works. Several Forum participants have offered examples of bad meeting practices, wisely advising that it’s just as important to learn what doesn’t work. Also, admittedly, it’s often a lot more entertaining. Here’s a story, in both print and video – whether a company uses video or not, the media does – that makes the point. So sure, give us more examples of how not to win the support of investors.


News Digest


Although there were no Forum distributions of news reports relating specifically to meetings being observed for this program, there was an interesting report of a Chicago “gadfly” investor’s views of the local shareholder meetings he’s been attending for 50 years. Its humorous review of food and swag aside, the article provides useful observations about valid shareholder interests.


Meeting Observations


The May 19 meeting of NVIDIA Corporation, to which we’d referred briefly last week, is described in this week’s Focus Report, below.






NVIDIA’s Careful Steps into New World

of Investor Communications


NVIDIA Corporation


An archived replay of NVIDIA’s meeting, with slides, can be observed here.

NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA, $7 billion), recognized for its world-class applications of computer graphics to deliver megahits like Avatar and Harry Potter, focused on two things in its pioneering use of new technologies for its annual meeting last week: a carefully stepped approach to adopting new processes, and the actual content of the meeting.


Last year, the company webcast its meeting, but did not have a slide presentation or the ability to vote or ask questions. This year, it took the step of offering shareholders the ability to vote as well as ask questions online. It added a slide show to its webcast, which the company says enabled its CEO to better present the company and its products. But when it came to video streaming, NVIDIA was not yet ready to commit. “We wanted to test the waters”, says Robert Sherbin, NVIDIA spokesman. “One day we may do all virtual. But we need to grow a little more comfortable with the technology, see more participation externally, and see what other companies are doing.”


Even this modest tech step forward helped NVIDIA achieve its goal of expanding shareholder participation. The company attracted about 50% more shareholders than last year, totaling 145.


“Our objective was primarily to broaden the potential base of participation in the meeting,” says Rebecca Peters, the company’s director of corporate affairs, adding that the technology enabled NVIDIA investors in far-flung places to take part in the meeting.


The company’s Co-founder and CEO Jen-Sun (“Jensen”) Huang was reported to have spent considerable time personally developing the shareholder address, which this year included showing how the company’s software enabled rendering fire in Harry Potter, as well as the latest computer-game graphics and the company’s 3-D Vision glasses. Lee Hirsch, NVIDIA’s global brand manager, who also owns shares in the company and attended the May 19 meeting, thought his boss’ presentation was an important element of the meeting experience. “Being the founder of the company, he has a lot of passion that’s engaging and that comes through when he speaks.”


In the Q-and-A that followed Huang’s presentation, shareholders asked about a half-dozen questions, of which one came from an online participant. Online voting during the meeting was not significant, the company said.


Huang’s skilled presentations have helped NVIDIA draw a fairly steady attendance of about 75-100 shareholders to its Santa Clara, California headquarters over the past few years, bucking the trend of declining in-person attendance. In last week’s meeting, the company attracted about 100 in-person shareholders and expanded its reach to an additional 45 validated shareholders who participated online. To that end, the company accomplished what it set out to do.




Avital Louria Hahn

E-Meetings Review, a Shareholder Forum project




© 2010 The Shareholder Forum




This Forum program is open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of standards for conducting shareholder meetings with electronic participation. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the Forum's purpose is to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant is expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

The organization of this Forum program was encouraged by Walden Asset Management, and is proceeding with the invited leadership support of Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. and Intel Corporation to address issues relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices, rather than investor decisions relating to only a single company. The Forum may therefore invite program support of several companies that can provide both expertise and examples of leadership relating to the issues being addressed.

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Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.