Yes you can talk about an acquisition in your blog

If you still think blogs don’t have a place as a valid public communication channel for communicating information related to a company’s finances, or a specific event such as an acquisition or sale, think again.

Here’s a good example of how you can comfortably talk about such topics in a blog post.

Earlier this week, Marc Andreessen, chairman of IT automation company Opsware, wrote a post on his blog in which he talked about the sale of his company to Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion.

His post includes a concise history of the firm as he sees it, his thanks to quite a few people plus some opinion on what the deal means to Opsware and to H-P.

It’s the type of commentary about a topic where communication typically is tightly controlled and, indeed, subject to regulatory oversight if you’re a publicly-listed company. It would make some investor relations communicators nervous, never mind the lawyers.

But go the the end of the post and you’ll find this text:

The lawyers made me add the following:

This blog entry is for informational purposes only and is not an offer to buy or the solicitation of an offer to sell any securities. […] This blog entry contains forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainty. […]

I’ve truncated the full text here simply because I want to highlight the key phrases relating to a financial disclaimer notice for a blog post. The full disclaimer text contains wording that’s complementary to the usual type of disclaimer you would see in the typically formal communication about an acquisition, such as is included in the press release issued by Hewlett-Packard.

A good example of looking at what you can do rather than what you can’t.

Related post:

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. David Brain

    Hi Neville,

    Very interesting link thanks. I seem to remember you and I first talking about this subject over a year ago. A timely reminder about an important and tricky area.

  2. Dominic Jones

    Hi Neville,

    I’m not one to play fast and loose when it comes to disclosure regulations, but often disclosure rules are used as an excuse for communicators and IR people to do nothing. It’s a convenient scapegoat.

    Take the move Sun is making on Monday, which I’ve been writing about here. They’re doing something that is entirely legal, but just a little unconventional and it has some folks all steamed up.

    Or NIRI using the Whole Foods/Yahoo! Finance affair to reiterate outdated policies on chat rooms. There’s no legal justification for their position. It’s just an easy way out.

    Fortunately, we have the Marc’s and Jonathan’s and Chris Cox’s of the world to drag the profession into the Internet age, kicking and screaming all the way.

  3. Alex Manchester

    Voodoo PC’s Rahul Sood also used his blog to announce the news of his company’s acquisition by HP back in September 2006. Seems like they’re (HP) more than happy with this sort of thing, or is it more a reflection on the sort of companies they’re going after? Either way I think it’s a good thing.

  4. neville

    I remember that, David. Sitting chatting in the American Hotel in Amsterdam, as I recall.

    It’s very interesting re Sun, Dominic. They (rather, Jonathan Schwartz) have been at the forefront of pressure for change re blogs, communicating and SEC regulations.

    That’s an interesting one, Alex. I didn’t see any disclaimer on his blog post, whether regulatory-required or otherwise.

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