The Shareholder ForumTM

Electronic Participation in Shareholder Meetings

Forum Home Page [see Broadridge note below]

"E-Meetings" Home Page

"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


June 25, 2010


Participant Questions and Comments


Agenda for the Forum’s open meeting on July 13:

The agenda for the Forum’s open meeting, including reservation requirements, was distributed yesterday and has been posted on the E-Meetings web site. The stated purpose of the meeting is to

“…consider proposed standards for judging the fairness of communications associated with voting at shareholder meetings, assuring a shareholder’s right to

(a) present questions and views to a company’s managers and to other shareholders,

(b) observe the presentation of other shareholders’ questions and views, and

(c) observe the responses of managers to all shareholder questions.”


In keeping with the program’s subject, we are making provisions for electronic as well as in-person participation. For those of you who requested electronic participation, we expect to determine specific alternatives by next week and will report the details as soon as possible.


Why is the shareholders’ Q-and-A conducted after the voting instead of before?

Last week’s Focus Report, "Why Wait for the Annual Meeting," raised a related question: How have shareholder questions, which many consider the primary reason for conducting a meeting, ended up relegated to a post-voting rite? The short answer: It’s history. According to standard rules of order for meetings, discussion was invited only as it related to properly presented matters of business. It therefore became a conventional courtesy to address questions on other subjects after the conclusion of the meeting’s formal business. As proxy procedures evolved, voting was processed earlier so that now virtually all voting now takes place before the meeting even starts, leaving nothing to discuss as a matter of formal business. As a result, all that remains is the courtesy invitation of questions after the real business is concluded. As many of you apparently agree, we should consider alternatives that shift the vital exchange of information back to where common sense requires it – before making decisions.


News Digest


As reported earlier this week, NFL team owner Greenbay Packers, Inc., will be applying its expertise in fan management to the company’s annual meeting of shareholders, offering them a standard sports fan’s choice of in-person stadium experience and electronic alternatives. With recent annual meetings attracting about 10% of the company’s 112,120 shareholders, this year’s event will be held at the team’s Lambeau Field stadium and for the first time will also provide for electronic participation with online voting and questions.


Meeting Observations


Best Buy conducted its shareholder meeting yesterday, demonstrating its “Connected World” theme with a full range of electronic participation as reported in our June 11 Review. The meeting not only featured the evolving convention of webcasting with online voting and questions, but also provided an example of satellite-feed videoconferencing. An archived webcast of the meeting can be viewed here. For those of you who are interested in the how-to of electronic participation, Broadridge will be providing us with a webcast of the meeting’s behind-the-scenes administration.






Dell's Application of Tested Communications Strategies



Dell, noted for pioneering electronic communication to reach customers, is planning to increase the use of electronic participation to reach investors in its upcoming annual meeting on July 16.


The company will be offering its shareholders the ability to participate in person at the meeting’s Round Rock, Texas, location, or electronically, by voting and asking questions online both during and before the meeting. The company will be video streaming and webcasting the meeting.


Emerging standard for meeting-related communications


Dell’s choice of technology validates an emerging practice among several large companies, including Best Buy, Intel and Schwab, which have been testing the use of a video webcast with electronic participation. Several other companies have conducted similar meetings with audio and slide webcast instead of video.


Dell is also supporting another trend among large companies – a move towards a continuum rather than event-focused communication. Known in investor-relations circles for pioneering an investor blog in 2007 called Dell Shares, Dell has opened a separate, meeting-related message board where shareholders can vote, ask questions and answer surveys prior to the meeting. The message board helps create ongoing communication with investors, an important objective of many companies. But, because most companies keep the message board open for only about six weeks and close it after the meeting, the connection is severed unless another forum takes the place of the message board. An exception to the post-meeting wind-up has been Intel, which is keeping its board open year-round.


Dell is following the more typical pattern in opening its message board about six weeks before the meeting and closing it soon after. In Dell’s case, though, the company provides an option for continuing communication by having Dell Shares open. Shareholders or anyone else who so wishes can continue to participate on the blog. The pre-meeting message board and Dell Shares, however, are run separately with no integration and almost no cross-reference other than a post on Dell Shares alerting readers to the annual meeting’s new electronic participation features.


Defining the issues for investor decisions


The blog, essentially a corporate-management controlled publishing activity that allows the company to define the issues to be discussed, is used by Dell in an effort to offer investors additional access to information and discussion of the company’s strategy and financial performance. Postings include such timely items as the guidance the company posted earlier this week. Dell had issued the guidance press release prior to the blog entry, and posted the blog item on June 23, a day ahead of the company’s analyst day.


The company is considering the use of other social media for its investor communications, which would be consistent with the company’s 21st Century investor relations message. It has used Twitter successfully as a commercial venue to sell refurbished PCs, but has not yet applied this experience to investor communications. The company says it is considering using Face Book, however, for communications related to the upcoming meeting.


The message, delivered by Lynn Tyson, head of investor relations at Dell on Nov. 1, 2007, when the Dell Shares blog was launched, wrote in her opening post entitled “Welcome to 21st-Century IR” that the blog is an evolution of the company’s effort to use web-based tools to foster more interaction:


“While we speak to thousands of current and potential investors every year using traditional communications tools, this is an evolution to communicate using some of the web-based tools that foster more interaction,” Tyson wrote. “To keep growing and enhance our relationships with investors and others who might be considering our stock, we see that markets, information sources and how people want to interact are changing. Credible and relevant organizations today are taking advantage of technology and the Web to share information and connect directly with customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.”


Dell, and others, are taking up the challenge.




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.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

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.