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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Major companies are using Clubhouse to hold court with ordinary investors.

Why it matters: Executives are using the invite-only audio app to allow the type of access that was historically only offered up to Wall Street on stodgy, suited-up quarterly earnings calls.

Driving the news: Auto parts seller Carparts.com hosted a Clubhouse chat Monday night with more than 2,000 participants — the first time it specifically targeted retail investors.

The big picture: Retail trading has been super-charged since the pandemic hit, so it's no coincidence that the company wants their attention.

  • Retail traders account for nearly as much stock trading volume as mutual funds and hedge funds combined, the FT reports — a milestone helped by the Reddit-fueled trading frenzy earlier this year.

Between the lines: Companies are also trying to capitalize on the buzz of Clubhouse. Its main allure has been the ability to drop-in on conversations with influential people (including CEOs).

What's different now is using the platform for post-financial results conversations on a platform that's no doubt teeming with ordinary or would-be investors.

  • "We never found the perfect forum," Carparts.com chief financial and chief operating officer David Meniane tells Axios, explaining why it hadn't done a specific event for retail investors before.
  • "Clubhouse is a fast-growing channel and the stars really aligned."

Another example: Restaurant Brands International — which owns Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons — put its CEO on Clubhouse last month, one day after it released financial results to Wall Street.

  • The invite read: "Companies have calls with investors and business media every 3 months ... [w]hy not give our customers/guests the same access to our leaders," the invite read.

Worth noting: For years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has famously taken questions from retail investors that submit queries via third-party platform Say.

What to watch: "There is no enterprise use case more ripe for disruption by Clubhouse than the earnings call. Cant wait till @elonmusk goes first on this," Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud company Box, tweeted last week.

The bottom line: This could be a major shakeup in how companies try to target average people — that is, if Clubhouse continues to take off.

Go deeper

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

3 hours ago - Health
Axios Investigates

Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and the bills keep getting bigger. But some of the companies promising to help rein in those costs prevent employers from looking under the hood.

Why it matters: Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal.

Congress' chip-funding pause raises alarms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, a plea by the Commerce Secretary and growing desperation from industry officials, Congress still can't get a key bill that funds the U.S. chip business over the finish line.

Why it matters: With the global chip shortage continuing to crimp the economy, the semiconductor industry has ramped up pressure for funding of U.S.-based manufacturing facilities as one remedy.