Some companies are focusing on wooing individual investors, who are becoming a market force.

Dozens of companies are suddenly paying more attention to individual investors.

Small investors who buy single stocks have not been a major force in financial markets for the better part of half a century. They were growing in influence before the pandemic, partly because of the popularity of free trading apps such as Robinhood.

But with millions of Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, the trading trend escalated, Matt Phillips reports for The New York Times.

“Retail trading now accounts for almost as much volume as mutual funds and hedge funds combined,” Amelia Garnett, an executive at Goldman Sachs’s Global Markets Division, said on a recent podcast produced by the firm. “So, the retail impact is really meaningful right now.”

Tesla has long eschewed traditional communications with Wall Street. Ark Investment Management — the high-flying, tech-focused exchange-traded fund company run by the investor Cathie Wood — and Palantir Technologies, are also trying to reach small investors directly.

Before Lemonade, a company that sells insurance to consumers online, went public in July, it went on a traditional tour of Wall Street, meeting big investors and talking up its prospects. However, the company has since discovered that more than half of its shares are held by small investors, excluding insiders who own the stock, said Daniel Schreiber, its chief executive.

That has prompted a strategy adjustment. In addition to spending time communicating with analysts whose “buy” or “sell” ratings on the stock can move its price, Mr. Schreiber said, he has made a point of doing interviews on podcasts, websites and YouTube programs popular with retail investors.

“I think that they are, today, far more influential on, and command far more following in terms of stock buying or selling power than the mighty Goldman Sachs does,” Mr. Schreiber said. “And we’ve seen that in our own stock.”

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How Small Market Investors Are Being Wooed by Companies

That has prompted a strategy adjustment. In addition to spending time communicating with analysts whose “buy” or “sell” ratings on the stock can move its price, Mr. Schreiber said, he has made a point of doing interviews on podcasts, websites and YouTube programs popular with retail investors.

“I think that they are, today, far more influential on, and command far more following in terms of stock buying or selling power than the mighty Goldman Sachs does,” Mr. Schreiber said. “And we’ve seen that in our own stock.”

Academic research suggests that over the longer term, it can be a competitive advantage for a company to have a patient base of investors who understand and believe in its strategy. Such a steady foundation makes it possible for executives to focus on longer-term strategic goals, rather than meeting the short-term metrics often dictated by Wall Street analysts, said Mr. Cunningham of George Washington University Law School.

Take Amazon. Its share price kept rising over the years, despite its skimpy and unpredictable profits and widespread skepticism from Wall Street. The individual shareholders who held Amazon stock bought into the vision of the founder, Jeff Bezos, and saw no problem with Amazon recycling its enormous cash flows back into the company rather than paying dividends. Many of those shareholders are now rich; someone who bought $1,000 worth of Amazon shares at the start of 2000 would be sitting on more than $4.3 million today.

Shares of Tesla, too, have exploded in recent years — a victory for its base of cultish followers, who believed in the company’s prospects despite years of losses. Over the past five years, Tesla shares have gained more than 1,300 percent, creating $640 billion in market wealth.

While some companies are pursuing the loyalty of small shareholders, others are pursuing their money. Several companies whose stocks climbed during January’s “meme stock” boom have taken advantage of the demand to issue new shares, turning trading enthusiasm into actual cash for the company. (Previously issued shares that are bought and sold in the open market don’t generate any new money for companies themselves.)

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Here’s What Readers Told Us About Feeling Burned Out

At this point in the pandemic, it feels that we have, all, collectively, hit a wall. Last week, The New York Times asked readers to tell us about work burnout they’re experiencing — nearly 700 people responded in two days. The responses were funny, vulnerable and indicative of a universal sense of: “We’ve had enough.” The collective picture they painted was of a work force struggling to do tasks that were once easy, people who know they are lucky to have a job but dream of quitting, and who would do anything to never have a Zoom meeting again.

Here’s what else we heard from readers. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity, and some people preferred to give only their first names.

“Waking up and realizing, ‘I am going to stare at my laptop for 8 hours, maybe 9, maybe 10, log off, feel utterly unaccomplished because I have not left my small office/bedroom/yoga studio for the entire day, and do it all again for who knows how long.’ At this point I don’t know who is going to crack first, me or the pandemic.”

— Stephanie Soderlund, chemist, Portland, Ore.

“Logging off at the end of the day. It’s nearly impossible. Once the world went into lockdown a year ago, I felt like I logged onto work and I’m still waiting to log off.”

— Natalie Fiacco, art director, New York

“All of it. I can’t focus at all. Every day is Groundhog Day. I get up, I drink tea, I spend 8-12 hours in front of the computer, I listen to podcasts all day while I work, I spend too much time on social media, and then I go to bed. We’ve barely left the flat in over a year now. I’m lucky to have a job, but I fantasize about quitting all the time.”

— Lee Anne Sittler, translator, Madrid

“The Microsoft Teams ringtone strikes fear in my heart and the Slack buzz dread in my spirit.”

— Carolyn, graphic designer, Brooklyn

“I’m juggling child care, teaching a kindergartner and also being timed for each activity at work. In social services, it takes a lot of emotional labor in normal times, now we have had nearly 300 percent increase in folks seeking our assistance” — Risa, public benefits eligibility specialist, Tacoma, Wash.

“How do I log the hours I spent crying or staring out my window? (Spoiler: I can’t, because those things aren’t monetizable.)”

— Julie Bourne, content strategist, Brooklyn

“I’ve come to rely very much on the story of the Exodus during the past year, the story of ancient Israel’s time in the wilderness as both a time of trial, but also a time of preparation for what comes next.”

— Todd Vetter, pastor, Madison, Conn.

“I have been playing D&D every week through Discord with a group of friends. It has served as the closest thing to a routine that I have now, and a moment of respite to actually feel connected to other human beings.”

— Silas Choudhury, student, Jersey City, N.J.

“I dream about vacations to which I cannot drive.”

— Alexandra Robinson, art professor, Austin, Texas

“Getting outside in the morning makes the most difference on preventing motivational flatlining, but unless I have an accountability buddy it’s easy to skip. I skip more now than I was a year ago.”

— Prajna Cole, project manager, Eugene, Ore.

“I try to remember that pandemics don’t last forever.”

— Jason, high school teacher, Virginia

“I focus on my family, on keeping them happy and healthy. I also eat jelly beans.”

— Dr. Yemina Warshaver, emergency medicine physician, New York

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JAMA Editor Placed on Leave Following Racial Controversy

Following controversial comments on racism in medicine made by a deputy editor at JAMA, the editor in chief of the prominent medical journal was placed on administrative leave on Thursday.

A committee of the American Medical Association, which oversees the journal, said Dr. Howard Bauchner would be replaced by an interim editor pending results of an independent investigation. The decision was announced on Thursday in an email to employees.

JAMA is one of the world’s leading medical journals, publishing research that shapes the scientific agenda and public policy around the globe. The controversy began when Dr. Ed Livingston, a deputy editor, said on a Feb. 24 podcast that structural racism no longer existed in the United States.

“Structural racism is an unfortunate term,” said Dr. Livingston, who is white. “Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many people like myself are offended by the implication that we are somehow racist.”

response to both was swift and angry, prompting the journal to take down the podcast and delete the tweet.

A week later, Dr. Bauchner addressed the controversy. “Comments made in the podcast were inaccurate, offensive, hurtful, and inconsistent with the standards of JAMA,” Dr. Bauchner said in a statement. “We are instituting changes that will address and prevent such failures from happening again.”

Dr. Livingston later resigned. On Thursday night, officials at JAMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many in the medical community said that the journal had not gone far enough and that the events offered an opportunity to make more systemic changes. In an email sent to leaders of the A.M.A., a group of doctors called for “a careful investigation of the JAMA editorial staff and board, up to and including the removal of Dr. Howard Bauchner.”

The authors also initiated a petition, now signed by nearly 7,000 people, asking the journal to hold Dr. Bauchner accountable and to review and restructure the editorial process.

acknowledged that the journal’s “staff and leadership are overwhelmingly white and economically privileged,” and he committed to reviewing its editorial process.

In the email to JAMA employees, Dr. James L. Madara, chief executive of the American Medical Association, promised that its investigation would probe “how the podcast and associated tweet were developed, reviewed, and ultimately published,” and said that the A.M.A. had engaged independent investigators to ensure objectivity.

He did not offer a date for conclusion of the investigation.

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Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Draw 17.1 Million to CBS

Since then, the rise of digital media and its infinite screen-time options have cut deeply into the might of the big broadcasters. As the viewing audience fractured, opportunities for must-see prime-time interviews became vanishingly rare. Even the biggest one-on-ones of recent years have lacked the drawing power of the specials from two decades ago and more. The audience of 17.1 million for Ms. Winfrey’s interview of Ms. Markle and Prince Harry matched the number of viewers who tuned in when Caitlyn Jenner revealed that she was transgender to Ms. Sawyer on a 2015 episode of ABC’s “20/20.”

The Sunday night special was unusual in that it was not overseen by a network news division. Ms. Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions, produced it, and CBS paid at least $7 million to license the show, according to a person with knowledge of the arrangement. (The Wall Street Journal previously reported the figure.) The deal was also a gamble: It was taped after the network had bought the rights, according to two people with knowledge of how the show was made. During the interview, Ms. Winfrey said she had been trying to land the exclusive with the couple for about three years.

CBS emerged the winning bidder despite Ms. Winfrey’s rocky experience at “60 Minutes,” where she was a special contributor in 2017 and 2018. In a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Winfrey revealed that the show’s producers had criticized her delivery, saying she had “too much emotion” in her voice, even when she said her own name. (Ms. Winfrey has maintained a connection to the network through her good friend Gayle King, an anchor of “CBS This Morning,” and she appeared on that show Monday.)

Further complicating CBS’s attempt to get the big get was the thicket of media companies surrounding Ms. Winfrey and the former royal couple. Ms. Winfrey has her own cable network, OWN, and is a major part of the streaming platform AppleTV+. Recent episodes of Apple’s “The Oprah Conversation” have featured her interviews of Barack Obama, Dolly Parton and Mariah Carey.

Ms. Markle and Prince Harry, for their part, signed a multiyear deal with Netflix last year to make documentaries and other shows. They also signed on to make podcasts for Spotify and released the first installment on Dec. 29. It included guest appearances by Elton John, Tyler Perry and other celebrities, as well as the first public utterance from their son, Archie.

The pact between CBS and Harpo Productions was largely focused on TV rights. The interview ran live on ViacomCBS’s newly rebranded streaming service, Paramount+; but at least for now it will not be available on Paramount+ for on-demand viewing. Instead, the special will be available on CBS.com and the CBS app for 30 days, a CBS spokesman said.

Originally slotted for 90 minutes, it ended up a two-hour show. Before the broadcast, CBS released teaser clips, and British tabloids that have been unfriendly to Ms. Markle shot back with anonymously sourced items on her apparent misdeeds.

The estimate of 17.1 million viewers will only grow after Nielsen tabulates some viewers who streamed the special, as well as out-of-home viewing.

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They Had a Fun Pandemic. You Can Read About It in Print.

The Drunken Canal is one of a handful of downtown media projects that have been sprouting in reaction to the dominance of giant online media, the homogenization of big social media platforms that make community feel global, not local (though they’d like it if you’d follow them on Instagram), and the overwhelming sense that nobody in media was having fun in the grim year of 2020. The Dimes Square local media include a pirate radio station, Montez Press Radio, that won’t let you listen on demand, and a “natural style” fashion email newsletter, Opulent Tips, written by a GQ staff writer, with no fancy formatting. Many of the most interesting new products are in print “because digital spaces are becoming increasingly more policed,” said Richard Turley, 44, the former creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek who founded another downtown newspaper, Civilization, in 2018.

The Dimes Square scene caught my eye because its privileged denizens embody a broader shift toward spaces safe from social media. The new Silicon Valley social audio app Clubhouse shares some of those values. And the choice of print has a political edge. The Canal’s first issue featured a “Sorry to hear you’ve been canceled” column composed of a list of names, with no explanation, “to keep you from looking foolish at a woke gathering.” (The second issue included an apology to the actor Terry Crews, whose name had been spelled wrong in the first issue and who had, in fact, not been canceled, in the publishers’ view.) A third recent newsprint project called The New Now, created by a co-founder of the magazine Paper, announces atop its front page that it is “Free of Charge” “Free of Advertising” and “Free of the internet.”

The downtown media rebellion often looks back to the 1990s, when the model and actress Chloë Sevigny embodied an edgy new scene in a New Yorker profile, just before her star turn in the explicit 1995 movie “Kids.” Ms. Sevigny, now 46, is a running preoccupation — The Drunken Canal has featured her stylist, Haley Wollens. Ms. Sevigny told me she’s “flattered and hoping the kids rally for all of us.” But the more recent seeds of the current scene are in the podcasts that helped put a strain of left-wing populist politics that’s as hostile to Hillary Clinton as it is to Donald Trump on the political map — in particular, one called Red Scare, whose co-host, Dasha Nekrasova, lives near Dimes Square. Ms. Nekrasova, 30, said she admired the spirit of The Drunken Canal although, like many of its admirers, she hasn’t actually been able to get her hands on a copy. She plays a crisis P.R. person in the upcoming season of “Succession” and has directed a new feature film rooted in theories about Jeffrey Epstein’s death. The new Drunken Canal includes the prediction that “DASHA will become the new and better Chloë Sevigny.”

The unsafe sex of “Kids” scandalized 1990s New York, but the best way to get a reaction from the 2020 New York media was by bragging about having indoor parties. The writer and publicist Kaitlin Phillips, 30, who occupies a spot close to the center of a map of downtown personalities, became mildly notorious on Twitter for advertising a blasé attitude through the worst of the pandemic last spring.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Oprah Interview Is a Royal Balancing Act

LONDON—Just over a year after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they would step away from Britain’s royal family and move to North America, the couple is embarking on a public relations blitz that will underscore the delicate balance they will need to strike between emphasizing their connections to the monarchy while no longer officially being part of it.

On Sunday, the couple are expected to explain why they quit front-line British royalty in a prime-time interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The lengthy celebrity interview, on television and streaming Sunday at 8.p.m. ET on CBS, marks the culmination of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s effort to take control of how their life is portrayed in the media and bolster what appears, so far, to be a rare example of British royals successfully exiting what is known as “The Firm” to make big money.

But tensions with their former employer are growing. On Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said it is probing allegations made in the U.K. newspaper the Times of London that the Duchess of Sussex bullied aides while working there. The Duchess of Sussex denies this.

Meanwhile, a teaser clip of the Oprah interview shows the duchess accusing the palace of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and Prince Harry. “If that comes with risk of losing things, I mean there’s a lot that has been lost already,” she says.

The Oprah interview represents the culmination of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s effort to take control of how their life is portrayed in the media.

Photo: Cbs/Zuma Press

An unseemly public spat risks tarnishing the monarchy and in turn the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s nascent brand, says Rita Clifton, a former chairwoman of branding consulting firm Interbrand. “Like any branded relationship you want to make sure both are valuable and you don’t want your association to be killing the golden goose,” she says.

Initially, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex tried to keep a foot in the royal family. They trademarked the brand “Sussex Royal” and hoped to emulate other minor royals who keep their military titles and undertake some royal functions while holding down jobs. But officials at Buckingham Palace said no. The Sussex Royal brand was dropped and, last month, all formal ties were severed.

This total split came as a blow to the Sussexes, according to officials. But it may prove a commercial boon for the couple, who are now free to leverage their royal background without interference from Buckingham Palace, says David McLure, who has published several books on the British royalty’s finances.

After moving to Montecito in California last year, the Sussexes created Archewell Audio LLC and Archewell Productions LLC to create audio and video content. They also founded an Archewell foundation to support their charity work.

They have signed an agreement to create content for Netflix Inc. and another to present podcasts for Spotify Technology SA . The multiyear deal with Netflix is worth in the region of $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter

They are signed by the Harry Walker Agency to do speaking engagements. The terms of those contracts aren’t public. The couple no longer receive a stipend from Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles, or funds from U.K. taxpayers.

The Sussexes could become a billion-dollar entity over the next decade if they chose to endorse products such as cosmetics or clothing, says David Haigh, the chief executive of Brand Finance PLC, a British brand-valuation company.

But much depends on whether the content they produce for Netflix or Spotify is popular and if they can stay on good terms with Queen Elizabeth, he says. “They would make more big money if the whole thing was done in an amicable way.”

So far, the couple are playing a cautious hand. They appeared at a conference run by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Miami last year. The Duchess of Sussex recently narrated a Disney nature documentary about elephants, a project she started before leaving the royal duties. A Spotify podcast just after Christmas featured the couple’s son, Archie. The duchess has invested in an instant-coffee brand.

The closest they came to controversy was a Prince Harry video appeal before the U.S. election for people to reject “hate speech, misinformation and negativity,” which some commentators saw as an aside against then-President Donald Trump and a violation of the royal family’s longstanding political neutrality. Prince Harry’s advisers denied it was.

“The palace will be worried,” says Mr. McLure. If you quit the British royal family “you still have the royal glitter on your shoulders whether you like it or not. So you will monetize links to the monarchy and you will be potentially embarrassing to the monarchy.”

The Duke of Windsor abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson.

Photo: /Associated Press

Last month the couple said that they remained “committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world” and advisers play down the idea that they would do anything that is not in keeping with these values.

The British monarchy is littered with examples of royals trying to go private. Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son, Prince Edward, launched a TV-production company that later shut down. His wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, ran a public-relations business but was caught on tape making critical comments about Prince Charles.

More traumatizing was the queen’s uncle, the Duke of Windsor, who abdicated as king in 1936 to marry a divorced American. To supplement his royal stipend the Duke of Windsor later sold his memoirs and appeared in several magazine interviews. He ended his days living in exile just south of Paris. Other extended members of the family have also cashed in. The queen’s eldest grandson once fronted an ad campaign to sell milk in China.

Royal interviews going wrong are also a staple. The queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, had to step down following a botched interview in 2019 where he tried to explain his friendship with the deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Royal observers questioned the wisdom of interviews in which Prince Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, talked about their failed marriage.

Prince Harry has said a major motivation for leaving the U.K. was to get away from the media. Princess Diana died in 1997 in a car crash while being followed by paparazzi.

After Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018, the couple struggled with the level of intrusion into their private life and how the palace managed the British press, according to one official. In the U.S., they hope to find a more respectful media, according to one person familiar with their thinking.

Last week, the prince appeared on James Corden’s “The Late Late Show” where he was interviewed on a double-decker bus touring Los Angeles before crawling through mud at a military assault course. Prince Harry played down his decision to split with the monarch. “It was stepping back rather than stepping down,” he said. The prince said the British press were destroying his mental health. In leaving the country, “I did what any husband [or] father would do,” he said.

On the same day as the interview with Ms. Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth will also be on the airwaves. The queen and her immediate family, including her two direct heirs Prince Charles and Prince William, will mark “Commonwealth Day”— celebrating a club of nations that were mostly in the British Empire—and pay tribute to those countries’ handling of the pandemic. Buckingham Palace officials say the timing of the special program on the British Broadcasting Corp. is pure coincidence.

Prince Harry made a video appeal before the U.S. election for people to reject ‘hate speech, misinformation and negativity.’

Photo: Time/Zuma Press

Write to Max Colchester at max.colchester@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Podcasts That Can Help You Manage Your Money

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of financial podcasts out there offering a way to start your own business — such as, invest like a hedge fund manager or start flipping houses. But what if you don’t even know where to start when it comes to acquiring savings or balancing a budget? These podcasts are for people who know that they should be thinking more about their personal finances but aren’t even sure what the right questions are.

You may have heard of the FIRE movement (which stands for “financial independence, retire early”) and thought, “that sounds like a cult.” And while there are many podcasts by people in the movement, the certified financial education instructor Jamila Souffrant’s approach somehow appeals to all but feels as if it’s aimed directly at you. The Jamaican-born Souffrant was raised by a single mother who taught her the value of money at a young age. After experiencing a breakdown at a demanding job, Souffrant quit to spend time regaining control over her life, and in one year she and her husband had saved and invested over $85,000, using strategies geared toward financial independence. This is what she urges her listeners to seek: a life free of debt, allowing them to “launch” into a new life driven by their passions. Souffrant is an expert guide on the path to finding financial independence.

Nonmillennials, do not be discouraged by the title. This show is packed with understandable and empathetic financial advice that is useful for all generations. Shannah Compton Game, a certified financial planner and entrepreneur, noticed that her generation was woefully unprepared for the compounding financial catastrophes around them: multiple recessions, a student-loan crisis, stagnant wages and the rise of the nonbenefits gig economy. For the past six years, in over 200 episodes, Game has been on the hunt to find money tips that can change the way listeners of any age think, act and talk about money. With expert guests and creative angles, Game defangs the taboos around money and untangles confusion around any financial subject you might find yourself in, like talking about money with your partner, L.G.B.T.Q. financial planning, foolproofing your 401(k) or picking the right health insurance plan. Ultimately, “Millennial Money” makes a passionate case for finding your own individual path toward “money wellness” and the life you wish you could live.

By day, Chris Browning is a financial analyst. By night, he’s breaking down everyday money questions in roughly the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn (perhaps with an older microwave model). In 200 roughly 10-minute episodes stretching back to 2017, Browning answers quandaries on topics such as credit scores, student-loan repayment strategies, ethical investing, asking for a raise, or even tiny-house living. His jargon-free, calm and comforting delivery simultaneously gives the sense that any issue you have can be tackled and that everything is going to be OK. And if you want to hear him explain why you’re going to be OK, listen to his other podcast, “This Is Awkward,” with the subtitle, “But money doesn’t have to be,” in which listeners call in with cringeworthy money stories, and Browning and his co-host, Allison Baggerly, help them navigate the most embarrassing of situations without burning bridges.

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