One of the hottest stories trending in 2021 so far has been the rise and fall of struggling video game retailer Game Stop.
The vigilante story of a group of Reddit users being able to take down big greedy investors on Wall Street, while giving Game Stop’s shares a wild ride, has caught the attention of media all over.
The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, and many other large media outlets across the globe have been relentlessly covering this modern-day story of the working class going against big money and using nearly bankrupt Game Stop to do it.
Even smaller broadcasts like Wisconsin Public Radio and various podcasts have picked up on the Game Stop saga.
It was last month that millions of amateur traders who followed the advice of Reddit group WallStreetBets, collectively took on some of Wall Street’s most sophisticated investors by buying up shares of Game Stop.
Reddit-based investors had used the chat platform Discord to fire each other up and then used trading app Robinhood from their smart phones to buy the shares which had been heavily shorted by various hedge funds. Robinhood had later made the controversial move of banning the buying and selling of Game Stop.
Roaring Kitty, a 34-year old YouTube personality from Massachusetts was a leading fixture on the Reddit forum who inspired others to buy Game Stop shares. By following his advice, Reddit users carried out one of the most historical short squeezes the world has ever seen.
Large institutional investors had to eat their shorts after realizing that shares of battered Game Stop were starting to skyrocket. Melvin Capital Management was one of the investors who betted that Game Stop’s share price would fall only to see it soar from around $19 at the start of the year to touching nearly $500.
At one point the stock was moving up so fast that Melvin Capital had to get a loan from larger hedge funds Citadel and Point72, in order to close out their position on the retailer.
As of Wednesday, Game Stop share prices had fallen back down to under $100 a share and Roaring Kitty, whose real name is Keith Gill, announced that he had lost over $13 million as a result of the fall.
While Gill may have lost the chance to cash out millions, there have been many stories circulating on Reddit and in the media of people who were finally able to pay their bills after they cashed out their positions on the stock.
Hunter Kahn is a mechanical engineering student at Cornell University told CNN that he bought Game Stop to prove “the big boys on Wall Street” wrong. He cashed out with about $30,000 and donated video games and many Nintendo Switch consoles to Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis.
According to Bloomberg’s John Authers, what happened with Game Stop was an “act of class warfare.”
Many people struggling to pay for food as big investment banks made heaping loads of money in 2020, was just one reason why the story of a bunch of little investors banding together to take down giant hedge funds has charmed the world.
“If it’s simply garnering enthusiasm for people to go out and push the price up, I mean on its face, without something more, I don’t think that’s illegal,” said Andrew Calamari of the legality of what happened with Game Stop. Calamari is a securities lawyer at Finn, Dixon & Herling, and the former director of the New York office of the SEC.
It is not clear that there have been any violations of securities law by WallStreetBets but what happened with Game Stop may hopefully force hedge funds to change, especially as Reddit’s move has cost some establishment investors billions and billions of dollars.
For more details on the Game Stop stock pop, several podcasts are worth listening to including Planet Money, who had a comprehensible beat-by-beat account of the story.
Breaking Down the GameStop Game (Podcast) by Daniel Shvartsman and Akram’s Razor has a nearly 40 min discussion on the whole thing. You can also listen to Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s interview on podcast Sway when he talked to Kara Swisher about the subject.
WallStreetBets traders have been posting this week that their fight against Wall Street isn’t over so there may be a lot more to look forward to with Game Stop even if shares have pulled back tremendously.
“I think now that they’ve recognized their power and now that they’ve learned some lessons, we’re going to get more of it, not less of it,” billionaire investor Mark Cuban told CNBC on Feb. 2.