COFFEE company Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) held its annual meeting in front of a 2000-strong crowd in its hometown Seattle yesterday – and if you weren’t able to be there in person you could tune in to a video webcast and live tweeting session to stay in the loop.
I wasn’t able to do either, but figured I’d catch up last night by using the webcast replay or perhaps a recap in a news release or SEC filing. It turned out, however, that I started on Twitter, where Starbucks has a huge following of almost 1.4 million.
Since its main Twitter feed is mostly for customers and typically extremely busy, Starbucks has set up a separate Twitter account for events. The Starbuckslive account is a clever idea that other consumer companies should consider, if they don’t have a separate investor relations account (Starbucks doesn’t).
In 3 dozen or so tweets, I got the gist of the day’s event, including photos shot from a phone of a few executives and singer Martha Wainwright doing a rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry. But what I really wanted were the results of the vote, and the tweets didn’t mention them.
From one tweet, I followed a link to the annual meeting webcast on Starbucks’ investor relations website. After filling in a registration form that asked how many people were tuning in from my location (just me), I got this:
Now, it was almost 12 hours after the event and Thomson Reuters hadn’t been able to post a replay yet. I don’t know why Starbucks used Thomson Reuters when it has an account on Ustream that probably would’ve been faster (and cheaper), but that’s besides the point. I still didn’t have the results.
Next I looked for an SEC filing but nothing had been filed yet.
A few clicks later, I spotted a link to a news release about the annual meeting. Gosh, I don’t know who writes Starbucks’ news releases, but they need to cut back on the caffeine. We’re talking prose more purple than Martha Wainwright’s tights. Here’s a sample:
The company reviewed a year of strong financial results and outlined the blueprint for continued success. Starbucks exited fiscal 2010 and entered fiscal 2011 with record-setting financial results driven by the return of top line growth and continued operational efficiencies that resulted in dramatic margin and earnings acceleration throughout the year. This record-setting performance and the underlying health of the business establish a strong foundation from which to pursue multiple avenues of future profitable growth.
The entire thing is like that. But no word about the voting results.
Frustrated, I turned to Google News to see if there were any media reports about the meeting. There were a bunch, but none except one mentioned voting results.
In a story headlined Not a Peet’s peep from Starbucks at annual meeting, Seattle Times business reporter Melissa Allison gave me what felt like the only decaf version of the meeting, including this:
It was a calm gathering for the 2,000 or so people who did not completely fill McCaw Hall at Seattle Center, and most of whom left before the three-hour meeting ended.
And then this:
A shareholder proposal that would have required Starbucks to adopt a comprehensive recycling strategy received just 8.1 percent of the shares voted, based on a preliminary count. A similar proposal last year won 11 percent.
But that’s just one of the proposals before the meeting. I was interested in the two say-on-pay resolutions and two resolutions about the company’s 2005 Long-Term Equity Incentive Plan.
To be clear, there’s no requirement for Starbucks or any other company to release results, even preliminary ones, publicly immediately following the meeting. However, if you’re a shareholder who has taken the time to vote but can’t attend the meeting or the webcast, you want to know.
And because Starbucks didn’t tell me, all of their communications began to seem like a lot of hot air.
I’m all for using the web to get more people interested in your companies (that’s what this site is all about), but let’s not forget what these meetings are really about.