NYSE Launches Social Networking Site For Execs

By Lynn Cowan

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES / June 3, 2009 – Facebook Inc. and aren't exactly the social networking destinations of choice for high-level executives to interact with one another, so NYSE Euronext (NYX) has created one for them.

With a need for communication that is a few levels above, "OMG, great earnings, LOL!!!," the exchange's online social network will allow executives at its NYSE- and Amex-listed companies to exchange information and ideas in a private setting. The forum, called NYSE Connect, was developed with Passenger, a Los Angeles-based company that creates and manages private online communities.

Besides connecting with their peers, according to NYSE Euronext, NYSE Connect will feature private Webcasts and live chat sessions, as well as online polls, blogs and surveys that allow participants to see general views and opinion on industry practices and current news and issues. So far, there are a few hundred executives signed up; the exchange expects to sign up between 800 to 1,000 more people next week during the National Investors Relations Institute's annual conference in Florida. The network will only allow upper-echelon executives such as chief financial officers, chief executives and board members to participate.

"We're providing them with a new communication medium where they can connect with each other," said Scott Cutler, head of the listings department in the Americas at NYSE Euronext, parent of the New York Stock Exchange.

Cutler says he sees the site as a place where executive can author blogs, seek and give advice on discussion boards, connect with one another, and take real-time surveys that immediately show responses on subjects such as forward-looking earnings guidance.

"The biggest differentiator for the NYSE is the people and the companies listed there. It's a group that can't be duplicated. These are world-leading companies and executives," Cutler said.

The time that people in the U.S. spend on social network sites is up 83% from a year ago, according to a report from market researcher Nielsen Online. Although NYSE Euronext lays claim to being the first exchange to offer a private social networking site for executives, there's a host of non-exchange sites that allow access to the rich and elite, excluding the hoi polloi. One of the best-known is, launched by a former Swedish banker five years ago; a newer one is Diamond Lounge, modeled on a London gentleman's club. Such sites are invite-only, whereas NYSE Connect simply limits members to executives at its listed companies.

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