If you own stock in a company, you probably have the right to vote on shareholder resolutions that push the company to change its behaviors. But it’s something that most shareholders don’t do. A new broker platform is different: When you invest as little as $1 in a company, you’re signing on to a larger activist campaign. An investment in Coca-Cola, for example, means that you’re joining a campaign that asks the company to speed up its transition to 100% recycled plastic bottles.
“Most people don’t know that as a shareholder, you have shareholder rights,” says Antoine Argouges, CEO of Tulipshare, the new platform. “And those rights are really powerful, because they actually give you direct access to the way a business is run and drive change in the company…What we want is for the first time to aggregate shareholder rights together, so that users speak with a single voice.”
The service is designed to give consumers more power to spur positive changes they want to see companies make. “Today, if you’re not happy about Amazon’s workers’ rights policy, and its treatment of its employees in fulfillment centers, you can stop being a consumer, you can stop using Amazon service,” he says. “You can go protest, or you can vote, maybe, at a political level, to try to change things. But we want to give the people another channel to do it.”
The platform is launching with three campaigns, all targeting well-known brands. The Coke campaign asks the company to commit to 100% recycled material in its packaging by 2030, doubling its existing goal. An Apple campaign asks the company to embrace the right to repair its products by allowing any independent repair shop to make fixes and redesigning iPhones and other gadgets so that they’re easier to repair, helping to reduce electronic waste. An Amazon campaign calls for the company to audit the treatment of workers in warehouses, a first step in improving working conditions.
Over time, investors will be able to suggest new campaigns. “The community will decide, well, maybe the fight for plastic didn’t work three years in a row—let’s focus on something else,” says Argouges. “It’s a community-driven product where people will be able to decide among themselves what we should push as a single voice.” The startup may eventually also offer tools to let small investors leverage the shares that they hold in a 401(k) retirement account. “Your 401(k) does have shareholder rights attached to it,” he says. “And the fact that nobody knows it is very frustrating.”
The goal is to find a new way to make companies move more quickly on ESG, or environmental, social, and governance issues. “If you ask most boards and exec teams today why they’re not changing something for ESG purposes, they will tell you ‘because shareholders don’t want it,'” Argouges says. “So the first time we’re going to have a group of shareholders that are going to actually push it.”