Interview: NASDAQ OMX’s Bruce Aust
IR Magazine caught up with Bruce Aust, head of NASDAQ OMX’s global listings business and corporate services unit.
Last year you bought Glide Technologies, a provider of newsrooms and online reputation management tools. How has the integration gone?
Corporate solutions is definitely an area we are focusing on for growth. When you look at the number of companies in the IPO market, it’s not really growing, so we do see our growth coming from corporate solutions.
The Glide acquisition was a great way for us to round out our suite of corporate communications tools. We have our GlobeNewswire business, which has been growing very well for us for the last several years, and Glide really gave us that other piece where we can focus on media monitoring, social media tools and newsrooms.
Can you explain how you see IR and PR overlapping?
We are seeing what we call the convergence of IR and PR. The advent of social media has democratized the ingestion of news and company information. The same information, whether it’s news or company performance data, is sought by a wider audience than in the past.
This is because we no longer always turn to traditional media to get this information. We expect to find it in search and social media, and we expect it right now. As a consequence, we are seeing the convergence of IR and PR and we expect this to continue. We see it within NASDAQ OMX as we try to tell our story to a broader base of investors. I think you will see this trend continue.
What other areas have you looked to cover in your offering?
We’ve already made one acquisition this year called Bwise, based in Amsterdam. [Before the acquisition] we spent about six to nine months getting to know the governance, risk and compliance space and getting to know the players in the market.
When you listen to corporate boards today, they are asking more questions about the company’s technology risk, financial risk and key employee risk. Everything needs to be measured and weighed. The good news is that there are lots of times we’re competing with the spreadsheet. If you can help automate someone’s risk controls, which is what Bwise does, I think you’ll be very successful.
Any other acquisitions on the horizon?
We want to stay very focused. We call it a bowling alley strategy, where we don’t want to venture too far from the middle of the lane. We want to stay pretty close to what we’re good at: investor relations, corporate communications and corporate governance. Our goal will be to innovate in this space.
Given the problems NASDAQ has faced this year – such as during the Facebook IPO – have you had to spend a lot of your time reassuring clients?
Since Facebook, we’ve had Kraft switch to NASDAQ, and we’ve had more than 30 IPOs that are trading on NASDAQ. With listings, people understand at times things happen that are beyond your control, but it’s how you handle them [that matters]. We’ve been very focused on making sure our customers understand exactly what happened.
It’s really making sure that when things do happen, we explain why they happened and what we’ve done to move forward and fix it.