Many of the major pension funds have long pursued social activist goals in their proxy efforts, such as divestment from certain products or countries, environmental issues, or corporate responsibility matters. Activist hedge funds, meanwhile, increasingly pursued their own goals, starting with simple greenmail in the 1980s, but evolving into dividends, buybacks, restructuring, management, and now board makeup.
Ides Capital, led by market pro Dianne McKeever, is bringing these two worlds of activism together. Launched in 2015, Ides targets small and mid-cap companies that seem ripe for shaking up. McKeever is bringing her own diversity ideas to the game. Ides first proxy battle came last year, when it went after underperforming wireless provider Boingo. Among the changes the fund sought—replacing two male members of the Boingo board. Boingo settled by expanding its board from six to nine—including its first woman director. After the board change last June, Boingo’s share price bounced up 30 percent.