“Warren is in the house!”
With those five words, the highly anticipated, albeit highly unlikely for an 82-year-old from Omaha, newest member of Twitter entered the social strata. Within minutes of his first tweet live from a conference at University of Nebraska at Omaha, Buffett accumulated over 24,000 followers in the first hour and counting. Whether admirers are hoping to gain stock tips, or just some insight into the world’s most low maintenance billionaire who prefers Coke to dom perignon, the tweets themselves are less significant than the fact that such an acclaimed investor is recognizing twitter as a legitimate platform. Bloomberg took the leap a few weeks ago when the SEC approved releasing financial news on social media. The terminals now show information from the twitter feeds of other companies thus making twitter almost substitute as a news wire service.
Although buyers of Twitter’s truth as gospel beware: the AP recently was hacked and reported that there had been an explosion in the White House President Obama had been seriously injured. If the AP is capable of being hacked, undoubtedly noteable financial personalities and big time investors like buffett are on the short list of hackable targets. Another credible news organization, 60 minutes was also hacked and proceeded to post false critiques of the President’s intervention in Syria.
While Twitter is working on stricter security measurements such as a secondary password for users, the main problem is the re-tweets. Once a user or hacker makes a false statement, there is nothing stopping those who pick it up as retweeting it as truth. Once more than one source is breaking a major news story the story can move quickly and cause mass confusion. Such an instance occurred during the Boston bombing when a false report went out that cell towers around Boston were down.
False tweets can cause mass panic and also a sharp decline in the dow, as was the case with AP’s false reporting. If Warren Buffett is able to tweet at liberty about his likes and dislikes it could sharply shift markets. More importantly though, social media advocates and Buffett admirers alike can at least hope for a change in conversation.
Buffett’s most recent endorsement was not for a single company but rather an entire sex, women. He told Fortune’s Pattie Sellers that “The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be.” In other words, men lean into female leaders! These are somewhat contrary words considering Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, currently has only 3/13 female board members or less than a quarter. In a recent study conducted by Calvert Investments that reported on diversity practices among S&P investment companies Berkshire ranked lowest among the group.
In a live Q&A with Sellers, Buffett addressed women both in his personal life and in the workplace. He praised his daughter, while admitting that he had a somewhat difficult relationship with his mother. He also had no qualms addressing the fact that Berkshire has no formal diversity plan within its structure. He said that a female as a CEO as no effect on an investment decision, citing Berkshire’s investment of $12 billion in IBM whose CEO, Virginia Rometty, is indeed a woman.
While some of his positions on women do seem to be at odds with each other, his relationship with his mother versus his daughter, or his praise of women in the workplace but lack of female representation on his boards, with two days leading up to Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting, all eyes and followers will be glued to @warrenbuffett.