More people are seeking to invest and save, rather than spend or borrow. Equity Animal wants to bolster this trend.
The firm is led by CEO Mark Moran, who appeared on the first season of HBO's "FBoy Island," and president Brian Hanly, the founder and CEO of New York-based Bullish Studio. The two met while Moran was overseeing growth and operations at Litquidity, one of the fastest growing media brands born from a social media meme account.
Through Litquidity’s foray into investor relations (IR), Moran saw the industry needed change.
“There was no innovation,” he tells Benzinga. So, he decided to pivot and launch an IR firm with Hanly, who has worked with Litquidity, as well as Parik Patel CFA, OurFuture, StockMKTNewz and Ramp Capital.
“Through Bullish Studio, we will take the creator network of 150, targeting over 35 million investors a month, both institutional and retail,” Moran, a licensed attorney and former investment banker, said.
Lower Costs, More Value: Publicly traded companies spend millions on IR.
“It’s a cost center,” Moran said. “This is a staid industry that businesses continue to funnel money into, only to have access to the same people. You have to ask 'What are you doing?'"
Moran’s first crack at disrupting IR happened at Litquidity. Together with “Lit,” Litquidity’s anonymous founder, Moran facilitated RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc.’s RICK first-ever earnings call on Twitter Inc.’s TWTR Spaces.
More than 4,000 new investors tuned into the earnings call, up from nearly 100 the quarter prior. Trading volumes rose in excess of 100% following the call — a validation of the new approach.
From there, Moran spent “a significant amount of his time focused on growing the client list for an IR business,” as Litquidity’s founder explained on their decision “to amicably pursue different paths.”
Moran would now “dedicate all of his time to building” the new company.
With about 10 team members, Bullish Studio was launched to assist in running the operations of Equity Animal, a completely separate company, with a revenue share agreement with Litquidity.
An Alternative, Creator Approach: Leveraging those lessons from his experiences at Vice Media, Starcom MediaVest, and S&P Global Inc SPGI, Hanly demonstrated the effectiveness and engagement with “social media creators” and the opportunity for new media in finance.
“We’ve been striking formalized talent arrangements” with social media pages and talent that have a big followership, he explained. “We help [firms] grow their brand and presence online,” as well as “sell advertising deals into the various creator channels,” and share their story through Equity Animal.
Corporate Storytelling: Traditionally, there are a few proxy advisory services that can sway an institution's opinion on corporate governance matters.
And 99% of the time, an institution is going to go with the opinion of such advisory services, Moran explained.
This does little to reflect the opinion of a larger investor base. Equity Animal is seeking to change this and “give more power to the retail investor,” while reaching influential decision makers at institutions who may be anonymous on platforms like Twitter.
Moran knows the latter is the case because of the gripes he’s shared with his followership online, and in media like the New York Post, prompting well-known financial institutions to improve their work environments and benefits.
Bringing Firms Public And Beyond: Ultimately, Hanly and Moran share larger aspirations for Equity Animal, a member of the National Association for Investor Relations.
“We’ve set a goal for ourselves to bring a company public,” Hanly said. “We feel quite confident that we will be able to do it no matter the company size as we’re good at building audiences, as well as business models, engines, and communities around individuals.”
Other opportunities Hanly says the two may explore include the “creation and distribution of research reports,” as well as original video content or distribution, beyond Snap Inc. SNAP Discover shows they launched in the past month, and on platforms like Netflix Inc. NFLX.
“We’re doing collaborations with other businesses” like SG Blocks Inc SGBX FTX, Del Toro Shoes, Ledger and Public.com, which Bullish helped bolster community engagement for.
The mission is to help increase the number of investors in the United States. And Equity Animal is also mindful of the quality of investments, Moran added, noting they are “careful” and “pride [them]selves on being one of the most premium environments to work with financial creators and reach investor audiences.”
Image: From left to right - Hanly and Moran. Retrieved from Equity Animal. Taken by Zach DeZon.
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