“Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to today’s first quarter 2010 earnings conference call. As you know, we are now distributing our earnings release exclusively through our newly revamped Investor Relations website located at investor.google.com. So, going forward please refer to our IR website for our earnings releases as well as supplementary slide decks that accompany the calls.”
Although in August 2008 the Securities and Exchange Commission issued their Guidance on the Use of Company Web Sites, essentially allowing companies to bypass the wire services and disclose financial results on their corporate websites alone, companies have been slow to adopt these changes for fear of violating the conditions attached to such disclosure.
With Ms. Shim’s announcement, that is all about to change.
In the pre-Internet days, wire services were the logical, economical choice to meet the SEC’s full and fair disclosure requirements for public companies. But in today’s increasingly wired (and unwired) world, digital media can do the job less expensively and more effectively.
By their own admission in August 2008, the SEC recognized that an increasing proportion of the investment community was receiving their news electronically and were regularly scouring company websites for new and valuable insights. Companies, at the same time, were moving quickly to increasingly make their websites more robust and user friendly as competition created a sort of digital space race.
As the guardians of all investors, the SEC imposed conditions companies had to satisfy to effectively circumvent the wire services and disclose material information only through their website. And while many companies have judged these standards beyond their current reach, Google, as the quintessential Internet company, has taken their rightful place in propelling financial disclosure into the 21st century.
Compared to the cumbersome, expensive, and questionable value added in utilizing a wire service, direct disclosure on a company website is cheaper, faster, and fosters a more direct relationship between the company and its investor community — something a wire service could never do.
Who can argue with faster, cheaper and better? It’s the same thing that Safeguard looks for in the technology companies in which we deploy capital. Of course, we respect the needs of all investors and their varying degrees of technological sophistication. But the world keeps marching forward, and if companies can save money while ALSO leveling the playing field through adoption of new technology, we are all for it.