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WallStreetBets’ founder said the forum’s stock-market frenzy was like watching a train wreck happen.
Jaime Rogozinski created the subreddit in 2012 while working as an IT consultant in Washington, DC.
Now living in Mexico, he told WSJ the group is “no longer what it used to be.”
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The founder of Reddit’s 4-million-strong WallStreetBets forum had no idea how the group would power GameStop’s stock, torch a number of bearish hedge funds in the process, and cause some brokerages to restrict purchases in highly volatile stocks.
“It’s a little like watching one of those horror films where you can see the bad guy slowly going up the stairs,” the 39-year-old founder, Jaime Rogozinski, told the Wall Street Journal. “You see this train wreck happening in real time.”
At the time of creating the group, Rogozinski was keen on making some extra money on top of his IT consultant job at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC. Tracking traditional index funds didn’t quite tickle his fancy.
“I’d go on different forums and ask them, ‘Hey, what do you think about XYZ?’ And most times the sentiment would be ‘It’s too risky, don’t try to pick stocks, you’re never going to win,'” he told the Journal.
But he wasn’t enjoying the dry advice from online chat groups, such as the Bogleheads, or from the investment banking types on television. And so, Rogozinski created the WallStreetBets group in 2012.
The subreddit was aimed at sharing investing advice among like-minded people, with a “YOLO” attitude, who approached trading as they would with gambling, WSJ said.
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Interest in retail trading exploded in 2019 after firms like Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab removed trading commissions. That led to a spike in WallStreetBets membership which grew to 1 million during March 2020’s pandemic-induced selloff and to 4 million post the GameStop retail trading mania.
“A lot of other places that discuss trading are really pretentious. At WallStreetBets it’s both, ‘Look at my money!’ but also ‘Look at all this money I lost,’ and I think that’s what’s refreshing to people,” Rogozinski said.
“A massive group of people have organized where they collectively have a seat at the poker table, which was previously invite-only,” he said. “You can’t ignore them anymore.”
But last week Rogozinski got a call from short-seller Citron Research’s Andrew Left, according to the Journal. Left pleaded for help over harassment by an angry mob attacking him and his family. The forum’s founder, now based in Mexico, realized there wasn’t much he could do. He was upset by the outcome since an online attack against an investor’s family crosses the line, WSJ said.
“It’s no longer what it used to be,” Rogozinski said of the group.
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