Berkshire Hathaway Will Stream Its Annual Meeting Via Yahoo…YAHOO! We Say… But Add a Tiny Boo or Two Too
In last year’s wrap-up of the 2015 shareholder meeting season we predicted that more and more companies would go back to actually trying to make the meetings more inviting - and more useful to shareholders. So we were happy when Yahoo announced it will host the first-ever live stream of the annual shareholders meeting of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway
The live-stream on April 30 from Omaha will appear exclusively on Yahoo Finance, across all devices, according to Yahoo. “We’re just taking their broadcast,” Yahoo Finance Editor-In-Chief Andy Serwer told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Berkshire already records and broadcasts the event to video screens at the convention center. “No money changes hands at all here.”
Serwer described how this came about: “I got a call in December from Warren Buffett, asking me as head of Yahoo Finance, to do this.” He added, “It was a onesheet[contract], literally one page, ‘You guys stream it; don’t screw it up. We’ll give you the wire. You plug it in. It goes to a satellite and you’re done.’ It was easy-peasy.” The event will be offered in English and translated into Mandarin for Chinese viewers, Serwer said, adding he’s still working out the details on whether it will be a simultaneous translation or subtitles or a rebroadcast the next day.
“Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in the interest around our shareholders meeting,” Buffett, chairman and CEO Berkshire Hathaway, said in a news release. “Partnering with Yahoo Finance provides us with the opportunity to reach more people than ever, in key financial centers around the world, from New York to China and beyond.”
Yahoo Finance said live coverage will kick off at 10 a.m. ET on April 30, with on-the-ground reporting from the CenturyLink convention center in Omaha, 30 minutes before the shareholders meeting begins. Yahoo Finance said an exclusive video-on-demand replay will be available on its platform for 30 days following the meeting. Yahoo said it will offer video and display advertising, as well as sponsorships [presumably from Berkshire Hathaway companies only, we’d hope] alongside the live-stream.
But, as much as we love Berkshire Hathaway, and Buffett himself, we can’t hold back a few boos here: First, why give all the glory to Yahoo? And let them put most of the “spin” on the deal? Our most important complaint; so far the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are entirely unaware of the upcoming live feed, or the on-demand replays, unless they get Yahoo or Berkshire Hathaway press releases. There was no mention of this at all in the meeting and pre-registration materials we received in March, and there’s been nothing since. We sure hope that the famously frugal Buffett will spring for a little follow-up note to shareholders…and will maybe think about streaming an edited version, or an indexed one, with fast-forward features, since the doors will open officially at 8:00 a.m. ET and the meeting won’t be over ‘til 4:30 or so…And one last thing, the traditional opening video - mainly made by Buffett friends and family members and overloaded with corny cornball “humor” - is quite a drag in our experience…But we will reserve judgment for now (and actually, it looks as if they may not screen the movie) and report back on the entire production in our next issue.