The death of the quarterly conference call was premature.
Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO ) may have disappointed investors yesterday by posting weak display advertising results and tweaking its full-year revenue guidance marginally lower, but at least it looked good while it happened.
For the first time ever, Yahoo! chose to host its earnings call as a video conference that could be streamed live online.
CEO Marissa Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman sat in a studio set with a slide-spewing monitor between them.
It would've been great if the news had been a little better, but at least you realize that Mayer is trying to establish a connection with investors that failed to materialize with previous CEOs at the company.
It's not just Yahoo! raising the ante here.
When Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) reports next week, it will also shift to a live video conference call format. However, it won't just be the video service's CEO and CFO breaking down the past three months for viewers. BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield and CNBC's Julia Boorstin will be on hand to moderate the discussion, taking in questions that are emailed in ahead of time or posted on Twitter.
Back in April, Zillow (NASDAQ: Z ) became the first company to solicit investor questions ahead of the conference call via Twitter and Facebook. The fast-growing real estate site has always fancied itself a trendsetter. It became the first company with a single letter ticker symbol to list on Nasdaq.
Remember when conference calls were becoming so unfashionable that even CEOs weren't showing up? A lot of companies were hosting their quarterly updates, letting their CFOs and lesser executives do all of the talking.
Well, the conference call matters again, and CEOs are using social media tools to get noticed.
If Zillow can take questions from Twitter, Netflix can come back three months later and do the same thing -- and stream it live with a full video production crew.
These three companies also have something else in common beyond raising the game of what conference calls can be: All three stocks happen to be on fire.
Yahoo! has nearly doubled off of its 52-week low, and it's the slacker here. Zillow has more than doubled and Netflix is a five-bagger off their 52-week lows.
This doesn't mean that a company that fires up a webcam at its next earnings call or begins sifting through Twitter hashtags for questions will be a market winner. However, in an investment world where successful companies are copied, it's a safe bet that this is just a taste of things to come.
It's incredible to think just how much of our digital and technological lives are almost entirely shaped and molded by just a handful of companies like Yahoo! and Netflix. Find out "Who Will Win the War Between the 5 Biggest Tech Stocks?" in The Motley Fool's latest free report, which details the knock-down, drag-out battle being waged by the five kings of tech. Click here to keep reading.