- Lightyear, the European investment platform founded by ex-Wise duo Martin Sokk & Mihkel Aamer, is backed by Sir Richard Branson and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
- Today, the company launches a first for many countries across Europe: voting and shareholder Q&As with publicly listed companies for retail investors.
- Recently the company expanded into 19 new European countries following a $25M Series A funding round.
Press release, London, 08:00 (BST) 27 October 2022. Today, European investment platform Lightyear rolls out voting alongside in-app communication, giving shareholders and publicly traded companies a seamless way to engage with each other. This feature is a first for many countries around Europe, where this level of ownership and transparency is lacking for retail investors.
Democratising the access that retail investors have to public markets has been something many platforms have sought to fix over the years, but no company in Europe has yet cracked the level of participation and engagement that retail investors seek. The norm sees retail investors getting less information, no voting rights and no way of engaging with the companies they invest in. Today, Lightyear is changing that in 20 European markets.
Engagement with publicly listed companies has been almost exclusively in the domain of institutional investors. More recently, this has been gradually moving downstream toward higher value individual investors and the financial advisors or wealth managers that represent them. The need and want for engagement has driven conversations online, where retail investors communicate with each other.
This development from Lightyear allows individual shareholders to ask US-listed companies questions during the quarterly earnings calls with company executives. Retail investors can submit their questions and collectively vote on which ones to ask. At some recent earnings calls, the questions which were answered were based on the number of votes it received, instead of the number of shares that an investor controls. This puts Lightyear’s retail investors with as little as one $1 share on the same footing as the Wall Street magnates.
Lightyear was founded by ex-Wise duo Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer to bring a global mindset to the European investment world. Lightyear combines multi-currency accounts with unlimited access to global markets so customers can invest freely without hidden fees. The European launch earlier this summer enabled customers from 19 different countries to now access thousands of US and European stocks in addition to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
Lightyear also raised a $25M Series A equity round over the summer, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sir Richard Branson, to power its expansion into 19 new European countries. The company’s seed investors, Mosaic Ventures, Taavet+Sten and Metaplanet also took part in the round alongside a number of new and existing angel investors.
Martin Sokk, Co-founder and CEO at Lightyear, adds: “Our goal has always been to help retail investors in Europe grow their wealth and make the most of an investment portfolio. Launching voting and shareholder questions for our customers – however small or large their shareholding – is a huge step towards achieving that. For as long as I’ve been investing – and let’s face it, probably since before I even started – retail investors have been an afterthought. In reality, it’s the most engaged investors that actively want a say in their portfolio company’s direction, not those with the largest shareholding. We’re excited to be the first platform to bring this into 20 European countries.”
Flora Somogyi, Head of Research at Lightyear says: “Since launching in Europe a few months ago, we’ve spent a great deal of time talking to all our new customers in different countries. From this research, we got the sense that a big portion of retail investors manage their portfolios based on their values and beliefs.”
Lightyear is excited to partner with Silicon Valley based Say Technologies to power this new feature. Say was built on the belief that everyone should have the same access to the financial markets as Wall Street insiders. Lightyear and Say share a common goal of eliminating the barriers that keep people from participating in global economic growth.
Leave a Reply