Retail Investors Are Playing The Most Dangerous Game

As anyone who has been on Twitter knows, the internet can be a hostile place.

No one understands that better than Andrew Left, a well-known short seller who unwittingly found himself at odds with one of the most powerful groups in the stock market: a reddit subthread known as r/wallstreetbets.

So Far: Retail traders, 1. Andrew Left, 0.

What’s The Battle About?

GameStop. The beleaguered video game retailer.

The saga began last August when Chewy.com founder Ryan Cohen began building a position in GameStop. Cohen has snapped up 9 million shares, equating to a 13% stake in the company, and last week it was announced he will be joining the company’s board.

At the same time, GameStop is one of the least-favored stocks on Wall Street. According to CNBC 140% of GameStock’s available shares are sold short (bets against the company).

The Crescendo: The tug of war came to a head late last week when Left’s Citron Research was discussing publicly its short position in GameStop, claiming the company is “pretty much in terminal decline.” Left added fuel to the fire when he described buyers of GameStop stock as “suckers at this poker game.”

Those comments drew ire from what Left described as an “angry mob” of retail traders who were, he says, acted in a coordinated fashion to push the stock higher:

  • When Left was trying to make a video presentation, he said multiple people attempted to hack his Twitter account and interfere with the livestream.
  • Left has said he is being harassed with unwanted food deliveries and he has been signed up for Tinder.

The Impact

On Friday roughly 194 million shares of GameStop were traded, more than eight times its 30-day daily average and trading had to be halted because of the volatility. The shares themselves finished up more than 50% higher.

  • According to S3 Partners, GameStop bears have suffered more than $3.3 billion of mark-to-market losses this year.
  • Chewy.com founder Ryan Cohen has made a paper profit of north of $300 million.

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