Eliot_Spitzer

New social media platforms could have an important impact on the future of shareholder democracy, former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer writes in his column on Slate:

For decades, shareholders have abandoned their responsibility to use their votes to shape corporate behavior. But perhaps technology can revive democracy on Wall Street. Could shareholders, gathered by an emergency twitter message, soon converge on a shareholder meeting to demand a claw-back for ill-gotten bonuses? Could proxy voting in 2011 generate the same enthusiasm as actual voting did in 2008?

Spitzer notes the emergence of various new web sites for shareholder advocates, including  ProxyDemocracy, MoxyVote and Shareowners.org, and cites a couple of major reasons why the sites may not ultimately be able to give shareholders any greater voice in corporate governance.

Even so, bringing the technologies of the “new politics” to the corporate context will make information access easier and ultimately even permit direct shareholder-to-shareholder communication. In the long run, reinvigorating corporate democracy is almost as important as reinvigorating political democracy. Much as we may believe that a new regulatory regime will fix our corporate sector, the more important levers of influence will, and should, come from the activities of shareholders, aided by new technology.

You can read Spitzer’s full column on Slate.