From renowned journalist Nathaniel Popper (formerly The New York Times), the definitive story of how a motley crew of retail investors banded together to hype up stocks on Reddit in an attempt to cost hedge funds billions of dollars and thus shift power away from Wall Street and Silicon Valley and back into the hands of everyday people.
In late 2020, members of the Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets noticed that large hedge funds had staked millions of dollars betting against Gamestop (GME). Partly out of fondness for the struggling video game retailer, partly out of faith in new shareholder Ryan Cohen (of the pet food behemoth Chewy.com), and partly incensed with Wall Street, they meme’d into existence a trading frenzy that exploded across all corners of the internet. By the last Friday in January 2021, the CIO of Melvin Capital, Gabe Plotkin, watched GME close after a rise of over 1,700%, taking with it 53% of his funds, while those who held stock since early January rejoiced at dreams enabled, whether they were affording tuition, a fancy car, or just beating Wall Street at its own game.
In WallStreetBets, journalist Nathaniel Popper reveals the fault lines underlying January 2021’s battle between the Redditors and the hedge funds. It began in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, when witnessing the Occupy Wall Street protests inspired Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt to create Robinhood, paving the way for previously disaffected millennials and zoomers to take ownership in the stock market. Now, with Robinhood facing class-action lawsuits for briefly halting trades, “Roaring Kitty” and other Redditors testifying before Congress, and bullish social media buzz becoming the foundation of a new mutual fund, it’s clear that Wall Street no longer calls the shots. The people do.