A routine communication activity for a publicly-listed company, with a press release, earnings call and presentation for the financial community, employee communication, interviews with journalists, conversations with shareholders, etc.
Most definitely not routine was the way they did it by making their public announcements on their website and via RSS feeds before any other public communication – before the press release, before the earnings call, before anything else.
The financial results were posted in Sun’s investor relations website and available via RSS feed ten minutes before the press release went out via traditional communication channels.
Sun’s desire to break through the traditional regulatory barriers that have prevented listed companies from using the web as a primary channel for financial communication has been clear for some time.
Last October, Sun’s CEO Jonathan Schwartz kicked off a public discussion with the SEC through a post on his blog in which he called for changes to Regulation Fair Disclosure (otherwise known as Reg FD).
Leading up to yesterday’s breakthrough in financial communication, Schwartz wrote that the upcoming financial results announcement would represent “a small, but exceptionally symbolic change”:
[…] Referencing a dialog we’ve established with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and its Chairman Cox, this will place, for the first time, the general investing public – those with a web browser or a cell phone – on the same footing as those with access to private subscription services. In effect, driving an open dialog directly with investors, rather than routing information through proprietary sources. Open is as open does.
I believe this change will increase the transparency of our business, fulfill our desire to disseminate information on a fair and equitable basis, and allow the network to be used for what it’s intended – connecting people and information.
[…] It may not seem like it, but this is a sea change in how Sun communicates with the world – and sets a path for other public companies seeking to drive greater transparency. I wonder how far off we are from ceasing to issue traditional press releases altogether… after all, no news agency could possibly suggest they reach a greater portion of the planet than the internet.
Sun has lowered the bar for other public companies subject to SEC regulation and oversight to follow the trail Sun is blazing.
Look at what’s possible, not what isn’t.
(Related: Shel and I discussed Sun’s financial communication in yesterday’s FIR #262. Our discussion starts at about the 27-minute mark.)