23, 2023 - Economy & Business
Exclusive: Robinhood-owned Say launches shareholder messaging
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Say Technologies, a Robinhood subsidiary, is launching
messaging feature that enables public companies to send
tailored communications directly to retail investors within its
network, and allows them to respond.
Why it matters: Newer
trading apps, including Robinhood, Public and WeBull, are all
competing for younger investors, and building ways to connect
Individual investors — through retail and private
banks, wealth managers, and self-directed accounts — are expected to
dominate global investing by 2030, making up more than 61% of
That necessitates a shift toward more multi-channel,
virtual and conversational communications, a report from
consultancy Indefi concluded last year.
How it works: Right
now, there are about 50 companies that compensate Say, based on their
size and depth of engagement with verified shareholders.
Existing features like Q&A and
shareholder proxy voting aim to gather feedback. The new messaging
function can build a better direct relationship between companies
and their shareholders.
Our thought bubble: According
to Alexander Lebow, co-founder and CEO of Say Technologies, retail
investors generally tend to be more pro-management. Therefore,
companies that engage with shareholders could mobilize that base
against activists proposals.
What they're saying: "We
don't take sides ... we're on [a] multi-decade project ... to totally
reconstruct the shareholder communications infrastructure," Lebow
tells Axios in an interview.
At the same time, Lebow said that Say has also
discovered that public companies view new forms of engagement as
"interesting in the activism defense world," because of how costly attacks
"These are existential situations for the companies.
And we have access ... to not just to get the message out to large
numbers of shareholders, but get them to vote," he said.
The big picture: Because
Say's platform enables voting and messaging in one place, the ease has
already proven successful in driving retail voting — "the Holy Grail
of retail engagement," according to Lebow.
What to watch: Millions
of investors have used Say's proxy voting and Q&A services, and the
company's APIs mean "other brokerage platforms, whoever wants to
incorporate our experiences in [their] app, can do so."