Microsoft : Ignoring investors

Routes to core corporate information are notable by their absence.

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The feature

Microsoft, US-based software and computers company, provides no visible information paths for investors in most parts of the world.

Microsoft maintains 58 country and regional sites on its dotcom platform. Visitors are automatically directed to their local site when typing the main dotcom address into their browser, though they have access to the menu of country sites once there. The rich footer on country/regional home pages gives links to various strands of corporate information under the heading About. Most sites offer the standard elements of Microsoft: Microsoft Account; Careers; and Company News. Other elements may be added on individual sites; for example, Corporate Citizenship (Canada/English); Microsoft in Europe (France); Press releases (Brazil, Argentina); Newsletter (China); social responsibility (Italy); the New World of Work (Germany).

Only the US site offers Investor Relations, which opens a conventional investor section on the platform. In a sampling of large country sites only Germany included a link to this site in its ‘about’ section.

The takeaway

Nowhere in Microsoft’s Investor Relations section is there anything to indicate that the company has no interest in attracting – or servicing – shareholders from outside the US. Yet that is the impression anyone not American visiting their local site – or being pushed to it – can quickly form. Even in Germany anyone looking for the annual report, for example, must work to uncover the path to Investor Relations, while in most other places if it ever existed it is too overgrown for people to find.

The variances in local rich-footer ‘about’ menus suggest a degree of local autonomy in what items are included, but equally the centre has not included Investor Relations in the stock menu or mandated that it be a standard element. That only the US site does feature Investor Relations in the list suggests Microsoft has not shaken off a US-centric view of its dotcom platform (confusing global with country). Even so, its investor community must be sufficiently multinational – and the potential general interest in its financial performance global enough – to merit some directions on where to go for information.
First published 17 June, 2014
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