Reddit’s WallStreetBets is not the person you think he is.
He is 39 years old. He lives in Mexico City with his wife, a physician, and spends weeks chasing his 3-year-old twins and tending to his day job as a consultant – hardly any kind of character. Associated with the Rowing Investment Forum.
He never imagined the Reddit community, created in 2012, would become so powerful that it would be GameStop Corp. Will send K shares in overdrive, topping almost a hedge fund and leaving behind professional money managers across the country. Twitter Rape their mouths.
|Ticker||Security||The last||change||change %|
|GME||GAMESTOP CORP||Is 193.60||-153.91||-44.29%|
“It’s like watching one of those horror movies where you can see the bad guy slowly going up the stairs,” Jaime Rogozinski said. “You are seeing this train wreck in real time.”
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Mr. Rogozinski started WalvetSubts while working as an information technology consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. Back, he was single, making a decent living and was looking for some money to play . The only problem was that the traditional wisdom of sticking with index-tracking funds bored him.
“I’ll go to various forums and ask them, ‘Hey, what do you think about XYZ?” He said that most of the times the feeling is that ‘it is too risky, don’t try to take shares, you are never going to win’.
Sober advice in online communities such as Bogleheads was overthrown. Neither was the comment from investment banking analysts on cable TV, corrected because they were on net present values, cash flow and price-to-earnings ratio. He decided to create a hub on the message-board operator Reddit, where like-minded people can discuss specifically those types of trades that would crawl the skin of a financial advisor. Their approach will be more important to gambling than spreadsheet analysis, and along the lines of their motto “YOLO” is “You only live once.”
The group counted only a few thousand customers in its first few years — among them, former drug executive Martin Shakreli, who served as a mediator before being convicted for securities fraud. (WallStreetBets’ Twitter account congratulated him on his sentence in March 2018.)
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Everything changed in 2019. Brokerage giants Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab Corp abolished trading commissions. Interest in retail trading spread, and WalcritBats’ customers rapidly crossed 500,000 during the March 2015 market selloff and 2 million during the now infamous campaign to elevate GameStop’s shares.
Users of WallStreetBets have placed bets on everything from cruise line operators to Pandemic to Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc., after the company reported in the scandal that it had installed floors with excessive amounts of formaldehyde. And he celebrated both his victory and his loss with great enthusiasm. (The community has dubbed the posting of subsequent screenshots, often excluding thousands as “profane porn”.)
“Many other places discussing business are really pretensions. On WallStreetBets it’s both, ‘Look at my money!’ But ‘look at all this lost money’, and I think that is refreshing for people, “said Mr. Rogozinski.
At its best, WallStreetBets showed that trading should not be exclusively a Patagonia-vested man’s game. It was part of a nascent movement to democratize the investment world by breaking down barriers to entry, even as some people stagger with brutal losses along the way. Several years ago, Mr. Rogozinski recalls calling Wachovia and asking to purchase a $ 30 or so commission fee. Now, anyone with a phone or Internet connection can trade in minutes – and demonstrate their skills or lack thousands of other individuals.
“A huge group of people where they have collectively held a seat at the poker table that was previously invited,” Mr. Rogozinski said. “You can no longer ignore them.”
Looking at the stage banquet and Jerome Powell’s past, it became clear to Mr. Rozowski that there was a seeded underbelly in the Wallcraftbats community – a side in which he increasingly struggled.
First, there were potential legal issues. As Volkrabits grew, it faced charges – often recorded by angry short sellers – of market manipulation. Arbitrators urged users not to post “for the purpose of provoking or coordinating a group effort to move the market for safety”. But this did not silence the community’s critics.
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It was abusive language then. Last year, Mr. Rogozinski decided to do some housekeeping and clear up some of the more obnoxious material being shared in the community. In an off-reddit chat room involving WallStreetBets, he found language disturbances with ideas of vulgarity, racism, and antig that let arbiters stand.
“There were a handful of modems that were outright white supremacists,” he said. A Jewish man married a Mexican woman, so it became impossible to feed him.
“I have really thick skin and people can say whatever they want from me, but at some points have a moral outlook – like with my kids, I don’t want them to think, ‘Well, they say Can do whatever they want about you, ‘”he said.
Mr. Rogozinski removed the private chat room hosted on the disc, where offensive messages were exchanged. He also removed some arbitrators. The backlash was swift: His works, along with promoting a book based on Waltbuckets, as well as an esports-style trading contest under the name WallcraftBets, were alleged by many to be bootlegged by several middlemen. He has not operated the community since April.
However, it has been impossible for him to escape his legacy. Last week, he received a call from Citron Research founder Andrew Left. The short seller, who is publicly placing bets against GameStop, sought help from Mr. Rogozinski. He said he was attacked online by a mob of angry investors, some of whom also targeted his children.
A Reddit spokesperson said the company prohibits users from posting or soliciting illegal transactions, informing others and engaging in threats of violence. He said the company would “cooperate in a legitimate law enforcement investigation or action as needed.”
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Mr. Rozowski was very much incapable of calling Mr. Lieut.
When big investors like Carl Icahn and Bill Ekman got caught in a public spat, “It’s like watching a heavyweight boxing match,” he said. But when an online crowd goes after an investor’s children or spouse – that crosses the line, he said.
“It’s no longer what it used to be,” he said.