Sun chief says blogs are the future for corporate news

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The Independent Online

Company news could be announced by chief executives on blogs or through email alerts to shareholders - rather than in press releases - if a plan by one of Silicon Valley's most influential bosses is adopted.

Jonathan Schwartz, chief executive of the computer giant Sun Microsystems, floated the idea publicly for the first time last week - on his blog.

Mr Schwartz has also written to Christopher Cox, chairman of Wall Street's regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to demand that the rules are rewritten for the internet age. Sun is listed in New York and has a market value of $17bn (£9bn).

"If we have material news to disclose, we have to hold an anachronistic telephonic conference call or issue an equivalently anachronistic press release," he wrote on his blog.

"None of those routes are as accessible to the general public as this blog, or Sun's web- site. Our blogs don't require a subscription, or even registration, and are available to anyone, across the globe, with an internet connection. Simultaneously."

The current rules were drawn up in 2000 after leaks and tip-offs during the dot-com boom meant some shareholders heard about price-moving company news ahead of others. As in foreign financial centres, such as London, the stock market rules insist companies reveal news to all shareholders at the same time.

But an SEC spokesman conceded it was only by convention that companies use formal press releases and investor conference calls. "The rule doesn't preclude, indeed it envisages, that disclosure media may change over time," he said.

The pony-tailed Mr Schwartz is one of 4,000 Sun employees whose blogs appear on the corporate website. Readers can "subscribe" to specific blogs by use of RSS technology, which emails them when a new posting is made.