A Fight Over GameStop’s Soaring Stock Turns Ugly

On Friday, Left set up a second Citron Research Twitter handle, claiming that several people had attempted to hack the main account, potentially in an attempt to disrupt his livestream. In a note tweeted from that backup account, Left wrote that “an angry mob who owns this stock has spent the last 48 hours committing multiple crimes,” alleging that the same group harassed “minor children” as well. He says in his YouTube video that someone ordered pizzas to his house and signed him up for Tinder.

Wall Street Bets moderator Bawse1 says that he doesn’t know if those things happened, “and if they did, it’s not something we condone or promoted.” At least two posts on the subreddit refer to an alleged doxxing. WIRED has not confirmed whether doxxing happened, or if it was through Wall Street Bets channels. Left did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment. Twitter told WIRED it locked his account as a precaution.

Tensions between retail investors like Wall Street Bets’ and a traditional short-seller like Citron research have threatened to boil over for some time, in part because of a core philosophical difference. “The traditional Wall Street view is that markets are driven by some tie to fundamental value,” said Hoffstein. “What we’re seeing is an influx of speculative retail traders who don’t have any philosophy about valuation.” He quotes a phrase from Bloomberg’s Tracy Alloway: “Flows before pros.” The market will be driven by a flow of capital rather than fundamentals—not a novel quandary considering 1999’s dot-com bubble. (Then, too, day traders would often pile into a stock on the rise, assuming it would always go up.)

“I think the subreddit brings a new factor into stocks that wasn’t as prevalent as before,” says Bawse1. “It’s called hype.”

Meanwhile, calls of “BUY” alongside emoji rocket ships flooded the Wall Street Bets Discord Friday, where over 25,000 onlookers watched chat fill with diamonds, rocket emojis, and obscenities. GameStop’s stock had just hit $60, a great leap from the $20 it was worth just last week. On Friday, million shares were traded, over 12 times its average trading volume. In the Discord’s voice channel, where hundreds participated in the “gme-rocket,” yelling, humming, and intermittent announcements coalesced into a near Gregorian chant. The stock continued to rise. It peaked at $73.09 midday today before quickly falling to about $58. Discord members urged each other to “HOLD.” Bawse1 says that this is the first time in years on Wall Street Bets that “everybody was making money.”

Wall Street Bets treats trading stocks like a video game, says Jaime Rogozinski, who founded the subreddit but has not been affiliated with it since last year. Buttons. Graphs. Risk and reward. Hell, a Discord. According to Bawse1, a lot of the trading takes place on the Robinhood app, which advertises: “Level up with options trading. . . Choose your own venture.” Now that the barrier to trading options is lower than ever having leverage in the stock market can be as easy as having a couple hundred thousand buddies and an app.

“It certainly started as a meme. That’s how Wall Street Bets operates,” Rogozinski says. “[Wall Street Bets] get a stock, they have fun with it, they make funny pictures and videos and songs or whatever. GameStop started as a meme but they pushed it to a different level. They’re no longer commenting on the story. They’re wanting to become the story and have very effectively done that.”

GameStop’s stock closed out at $65.01, up 51 percent since Thursday’s close. On the Wall Street Bets subreddit, one of the most popular posts declares, “GME!!!” with rocket ship, moon, diamond and prayer hands emojis. A screenshot of their Robinhood account showed they had $100,245.06 in the market; they were up 69.69 percent on the day. Read one comment: “THIS IS PROOF OF OUR STRATEGY. BUY SHARES. BLEED THE SHORTS. FUCK THE INSTITUTIONS. HOLD THE LINE.”

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