“My goal isn’t to get rich on this; my goal is to bankrupt these billionaires,” claimed John Motter in an interview for the Los Angeles Times, after he used his government stimulus check to trade stocks. “I would buy magic beans on the street from a stranger if he said they had the potential to ruin a billionaire’s life.”1 Many traders on the Reddit platform WallStreetBets appear to share this sentiment.

At the end of 2020, traders flocked to WallStreetBets to find the latest information about popular stocks in hopes of making fast money. After learning that several hedge funds had significant short positions in GameStop (NYSE: GME)—that is, they borrowed shares, speculating that the stock would go down in hopes of buying it back at a lower price—WallStreetBets orchestrated a plan to destroy the hedge funds and simultaneously make a lot of money for themselves.2 They then colluded to push up the price of GME by collectively buying shares, often using the popular brokerage platform Robinhood. They held that this would be an act of justice against traders on Wall Street who became richer during the pandemic while many people suffered.3 . . .

Endnotes

1. Daniel Miller, Suhauna Hussain, and Hugo Martin, “Gamestop Investors’ Motives: Take a YOLO Bet. ‘Ruin a Billionaire’s Life,’” Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-01-29/the-gamestop-brigade (accessed April 1, 2021).

2. Catherine Thorbecke, “Gamestop Timeline: A Closer Look at the Saga That Upended Wall Street,” ABC News, February 13, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Business/gamestop-timeline-closer-saga-upended-wall-street/story?id=75617315 (accessed April 2, 2021).

3. Michael Hiltzik, “Column: Gamestop Has Spawned 1,001 Theories, Most of Them Wrong. Here’s What’s Right,” Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-02-01/gamestop-takes-wrong (accessed April 1, 2021).

4. Matthew Zeitlin, “The Gamestop Craze Was Mostly Just Crazy,” New York Times, February 23, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/23/opinion/gamestop-price-congress-robinhood.html?searchResultPosition=3 (accessed April 1, 2021).

5. Miller, Hussain, and Martin, “Gamestop Investors’ Motives.”

6. Drew Harwell, “As Gamestop Stock Crumbles, Newbie Traders Reckon With Heavy Losses,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/02/gamestop-stock-plunge-losers/ (accessed April 1, 2021).

7. Rachel Louise Ensign, “Gamestop Investors Who Bet Big—and Lost Big,” Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/gamestop-investors-who-bet-bigand-lost-big-11613385002 (accessed April 1, 2021).

8. Daniel Winter, “Inside the Mind of a Gamestop Investor,” DW, January 29, 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/inside-the-mind-of-a-gamestop-investor/a-56384173 (accessed April 1, 2021).

9. Andrew Beattie, “Steve Jobs and the Apple Story,” Investopedia, March 14, 2020, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/fundamental-analysis/12/steve-jobs-apple-story.asp (accessed April 12, 2021); “From Alibaba to Zynga: 40 of the Best VC Bets of All Time and What We Can Learn From Them,” CB Insights, January 4, 2019, https://www.cbinsights.com/research/best-venture-capital-investments/ (accessed April 12, 2021).

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