Here we are in mid-March, and one of the most intriguing narratives of the past few years is still unfolding. Yeah, the Gamestop saga shows no signs of abating anytime soon – far from it. If any of the due diligence posted over the past month is anything to go by, this whole thing could end up being quite catastrophic for some and very very profitable for others. (Do check out the link above, one of the most comprehensive explanation I’ve read so far).
But that’s just the economics of what Gamestop is about. A quick recap – hedge funds had been shorting brick-and-mortar video game retailer Gamestop for years, looking to drive them into bankruptcy and pocketing a hefty profit. Keith Gill, investor, redditor (/u/DeepFuckingValue) and YouTuber (and as he pointed out in the congressional hearing, not a cat), did comprehensive due diligence and invested in the stock. In 2020 Ryan Cohen, billionaire and entrepreneur, bought a significant part of the company and started reimagining what it should look like. The stock took off, and took off… and took off. It went from three dollars and change in 2020 to $483 in late January.
Then brokers pulled the plug and stemmed the squeeze that was imminent. The stock dropped heavily, bottoming out at $38 a couple of weeks later. The hedge funds continued shorting the stock, allegedly hiding their activities through EFTs, call options, naked shorting and a lot of other fancy terms that some googling (or, rather, Ecosiaing) with help you find the meaning of.
In the meantime the community of retail investors engaged with Gamestop (or GME for short) refused to buckle and just bought more shares. Some have thousands and tens of thousands of shares. Gill himself has 100000. Others have one, two or three. All are united in the cry to “HODL!”.
As one sentiment goes with regards to the struggle against the hedge funds – “we can stay retarded far longer than you can stay solvent!” (here it needs to be stated that “retarded” in this context is an affectionate term. It’s also a way to get around any suspicions that messages and activities could constitute financial advice, which is something comparatively few can give out, apparently, as mentally challenged people are not able to give such advice).
Its mid-March now and the stock has risen, fallen, risen again and fallen again. And the community is stronger – and more creative – than ever. For instance – here’s the trailer for “Once Upon a Time in Wallstreetbets” (which does require some knowledge of the events to be fully appreciated, but can be appreciated for its quality nevertheless).
It’s fascinating watching all of this unfold. And looking at it from the retail investor’s point of view, this is not unlike what many of them have done for months and years in front of their computers – grinding out wins, levels and equipment in online MMORPGS. Compared to that, holding a few GME shares is easy, no matter what kind of FUD is thrown at you.
So what does all of this mean? For me, it’s the most obvious and clearest sign of a change in how the world works I’ve seen in my lifetime. Gone are the days when people are beholden to the narratives and messages put out by companies or media. Instead, independence has gained a foothold. People helping people (or “apes helping apes” as the lingo in the GME communities goes, again probably looking to not be mistaken for financial advisors) understand narratives, implications, numbers and statistics has been a revelation for many. Granted, there is misinformation – on purpose or by mistake – but if such is encountered, other users can often quickly rebut and offer better information. For once, the old adagio that bad speech is not best countered with censorship but rather with better speech, is very much accurate.
Not only that, but real apes are being helped in the process as well:
The millions of people all around the globe now invested in GME will not forget this movement. Decentralised, autonomous, leaderless, yet still a movement. If not of the organised kind, then at least a movement of mind.
The next weeks will be utterly fascinating. If you have the time, do consider following this saga. There will never be another one like it.