Chinn up: SNL president touts Apple deal

The Charlottesville-based company whose typical news anesthetizes all but the most fervent bank industry analysts has just announced a strategic alliance with one of the world's favorite brands.

From its hulking black headquarters near Court Square– the former "Spy Building"– SNL Financial revealed last week that it's now hosting the investor relations website for Apple Computer.

"We make it look like their site, but we're actually doing all the hosting," says SNL president Mike Chinn.

Chinn says that in the wake of Congressional reform following Enron and other financial scandals, more companies are outsourcing presentation of the information they provide investors, including real-time stock quotes, corporate releases, annual reports, and quick-downloading federal filings.

"It's really important for companies to be communicating with all stakeholders– both internally and externally," says local marketing expert Pam Fitzgerald.

SNL, which was founded in 1987 to compile information on banks, began serving up the investor relations websites for traded companies about three and half years ago. SNL now has over 300 such customers.

Although this new sector constitutes just 10 percent of SNL's business, Chinn hints that it's a profitable one. "It's low cost," he says. "It's just electrons." The typical annual charge to host a corporate site is $15,000.

"It's a fast-growing part of the business," says Chinn. "Mostly what we do is collect data and write news."

Chinn concedes that Apple computers are in the minority on desks at SNL corporate headquarters, a multi-stories black tower that houses about 250 of the company's 370 worldwide employees.

"It's good to be associated with Apple," says Chinn. He was speaking three days before named Apple (topping Google, Ikea, and Starbucks) the corporate brand with the greatest worldwide impact.

So did Chinn and the SNL web-techs get to meet Steve Jobs? "We didn't get that far up the chain," he says.

SNL Financial President Mike Chinn