The co-founder of the subreddit WallStreetBets says he never expected the forum to become the force it is now, with hordes of amateur investors driving up stock prices in a showdown with Wall Street short-sellers.
“I don’t envy any of them,” WallStreetBets founder Jaime Rogozinski told Julia Chatterley on CNN Thursday. “I’m enjoying this from the sidelines.”
He later added, “I predicted the trajectory where things were going, but by no means did I predict the timing or the magnitude.”
Rogozinski founded the Reddit group in 2012, but he was removed by the platform for allegedly profiting off the WallStreetBets brand, a charge he denied in an earlier interview with CNN Business.
He wrote a book called “WallStreetBets: How Boomers Made the World’s Biggest Casino for Millennials,” and is “actively involved with tech and startup communities,” according to his personal website.
WallStreetBets, which now has more than 4.5 million followers, is behind the jaw-dropping runup in stocks such as GameStop (GME), AMC and others. The rally has confounded Wall Street and prompted some trading platforms to restrict trades on highly volatile stocks that day traders on Reddit have been piling into.
The runup in GameStop is unprecedented in part because of the way no-fee trading apps like Robinhood have democratized investing — giving armchair investors far removed from traditional banks free access to sophisticated trading instruments, like options.
The process is “completely gamified on on people’s cellphones,” Rogozinski said.
Rogozinski, along with much of the financial world, is shocked by the rally. “I can’t imagine that I ever envisioned this happening,” he said, adding that there are “a lot of forces at play that have just never been tested.”
The turning point, for him, came Wednesday when White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “monitoring the situation.”
“Nobody’s prepared to handle it on the regulatory side, the government side or on the actual forum itself,” Rogozinski said.
GameStop’s wild ride — it’s up more than 600% since the start of January — didn’t show signs of slowing Thursday. The stock was extremely volatile, prompting the New York Stock Exchange to halt trading.
Robinhood, the trading app used by many in the WSB subreddit, said it was restricting transactions on GameStop, AMC (AMC), BlackBerry (BB), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), Nokia (NOK) and others because of the erratic trading. “We continuously monitor the markets and make changes where necessary,” Robinhood said in a statement.