Zillow revealed on Wednesday that it will become the first company to accept conference call questions from investors that are posted on Twitter and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) during the actual presentation in two weeks.
Before grasping the magnitude of this -- a public company embracing social media to give lay investors a voice in an event where participation is usually capped within the analyst community -- let's throw Hastings a bone.
It was Hastings, after all, who opened up social media as a platform for disclosure.
- Last summer, he turned heads by revealing on Facebook that Netflix was streaming a billion hours a month.
- A month later, Hastings was using his Facebook page to taunt HBO.
- Two weeks ago, Hastings revealed that Netflix users streamed 4 billion hours of content during the first quarter, and that's a nugget that Netflix repeated in Monday's call.
Now, Hastings is a board member at Facebook, but that in of itself didn't make these disclosures kosher. It wasn't until the SEC investigated the ramifications of a company divulging pertinent investor information through social media -- only to conclude that it was perfectly fine -- that other companies have hopped on the possibilities.
The only real surprise is that Zillow became the first company to take this to the next logical step by incorporating tweets and Facebook posts into the very fabric of an interactive conference call. Even Facebook hasn't tried to use its own site this way for its calls.
Companies will naturally keep an eye on how things go with Zillow's social experiment on May 8. If it's a hit, expects shareholders to have more of a say in future conference calls.
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