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App startup is letting investors submit and upvote questions for Elon Musk to answer next week

·Former Correspondent
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New York-based tech start-up SAY is offering Tesla's (TSLA) retail shareholders on its website and app a way to submit and vote on questions for Elon Musk to answer on the electric carmaker's upcoming earnings call.

"We think there's an opportunity for stakeholders in companies other than outside analysts and institutional investors to participate, especially for companies like Tesla where you have a large community of retail shareholders who are well informed, vocal, and active. Those people should have a platform to participate in the process," SAY's cofounder Alexander Lebow told Yahoo Finance.

Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings call is on January 30th. It won't be the first time Musk has engaged with retail investors. On the first quarter call in May 2018, Musk took questions from a 25-year-old YouTuber, Galileo Russell, not long after criticizing Wall Street analysts’ "boring, bonehead" questions.

Russell has asked questions on subsequent earnings calls.

"Tesla is the perfect place for SAY to start with this product because the retail shareholders follow the company, they know the company, and they deserve a voice," said Russell who is an advisor for SAY.

The questions submitted will be voted on in a Reddit-style ranking mechanism with the most popular rising to the top.

"We think [Tesla] will answer some of them," Lebow said, noting they've had discussions with the investor relations team at the carmaker.

"They have not committed to answering the top three or anything," Lebow said. "We have a pretty strong feeling they will make use of it."

The bigger idea behind SAY is to allow shareholders to communicate with companies. Another piece of the puzzle is taking is taking on the” antiquated and cumbersome” proxy system by making it more seamless for retail investors to participate. SAY was used during the referendum on whether Musk should split the role of chairman/CEO last year.

"In the future, we would like to move toward a world where a shareholder can go to one place to vote a proxy, submit a question, communicate with other shareholders about things that matter," Lebow said.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.