The investor who drew the world’s attention to GameStop by leading a horde of online gamers during a bizarre market rally that made and lost a fortune overnight says he’s just a regular guy.
I wasn’t expecting this, he said.
34 years old, known as DeepF-ingValue to fans on the WallStreetBets forum on Reddit and Dada to his 2-year-old daughter. He said he was not seeking the attention of Congress, the Federal Reserve, hedge funds, the media, trading desks and hundreds of thousands of investors.
This story is much more important than me, Gill said in his first interview with the Wall Street Journal since the start of the new period of stock market volatility this week. I support these small investors, their ability to make a statement.
For many, Gill, who until recently worked as a marketing executive at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, is the driving force behind GameStop’s triple-digit rise in video game retail shares, which have risen more than 900 percent this year through Thursday. The stock rose 135% on Wednesday to a record $347.51. The stock fell to $194 on Thursday. At the beginning of the year, GameStop shares were worth about $18.
Many online investors claim that his advocacy helped turn them into a force powerful enough to inflict heavy losses on the established hedge funds and turn the investment world upside down for the time being.
On Wednesday, Gill posted a screenshot of his trading account showing about $20 million in daily earnings from GameStop stocks and options. His steady hand convinced many of us not only to buy, but to keep. His example has literally changed the lives of thousands of ordinary people. Seriously, thank you. You deserve every penny, replied one Reddit user, reality_czech.
Online retailers congratulate Mr Gill for giving GameStop an eventful performance this week.
The next day, Mr. Gill, another screenshot showing a $15 million loss. After the market closed on Thursday, his E*Trade trading account, as seen by the Journal, held about $33 million, including GameStop stock, options and millions in cash.
He always loved money, he says.
his mother. As a child, she says, he received money from these accounts that people didn’t know were earned. People threw them on the ground …. Often there was money left over.
Gill’s online persona, Jealous Kitty on YouTube, has attracted tens of thousands of fans and people to share screenshots of their own brokerage accounts. This week, as the hype around GameStop peaked, hundreds of thousands of new investors downloaded apps like Robinhood to participate, according to Apptopia Inc.
This week, scandal broke out on Wall Street over GameStop’s actions after members of the popular Reddit WallStreetBets forum bet on the video game retailer. WSJ explains how options trading is driving events and what’s at stake.
Gill said he was not a troublemaker attacking the establishment, but simply someone who believes investors can find value in unloved stocks. He did not expect a legion of online fans to discuss his identity or the millions of dollars in his trading account, he said. He was just a dad with an online hobby and a plastic baby slide on the lawn of his house in the suburbs of Boston.
Gill started investing in GameStop in June 2019, when the price was about $5 a share, he said. At the start of the year, the yacht dealer was looking for a fifth frame in just over 12 months. Mr Gill kept buying. Although he never played much except Super Mario or Donkey Kong, he saw opportunities for the struggling retailer to reinvigorate itself by attracting new customers with the latest gaming consoles.
People were quick to say that GameStop was the next step.
He said the network is stuck in retail. It seems that many people have not dug further. This was a gross miscalculation of the possibilities.
Gill, tall with shoulder-length hair, started a YouTube channel last summer and worked in the basement of the house he rents in Wilmington, Massachusetts, so he wouldn’t disturb his daughter after she went to bed, he says. He toured GameStop and Belgian beer on his channel. His favorite is Delirium Tremens.
During a recent live broadcast on YouTube, he wore a red bracelet and aviator sunglasses while answering questions about the actions. He used a prosecco and then switched to beer, celebrating a huge success and plunging legions of spectators and vendors into an extravaganza that lasted more than seven hours. The feed has over 200,000 views.
Gill’s obscene name on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum was meant to reflect the belief that it pays to invest and buy shares in companies that are cheap relative to the underlying business.
Among his many Reddit fans, Mr. Gill is one of the greatest legends in the history of WallStreetBets, said.
The 34-year-old executive coach from Ronkonkoma, N.Y. He’s the original OG.
The wild movements of the shares, seemingly unrelated to standard measures of company value, have led to complaints that inducing investors to engage in such madness amounts to market manipulation.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Friday that it will act to protect retail investors when there is evidence of abusive or manipulative trading activity. Mr. Gill stated that he had not heard from the SEC yet.
The first thing I asked him when this madness started was: Is it illegal or something bad? He said: No, Mom, it isn’t, recalls Mrs. Jill, who lives in Brockton, Massachusetts, where she and
raised her son.
Gill was a high school cross-country runner and won national honors with the team at nearby Stonehill College, where he graduated in 2009 with a degree in accounting. He lasted four minutes before passing out from an Achilles tendon injury.
Gill moved to New Hampshire for a few years and found a mentor, investor and software developer to whom his aunt introduced him. A graduate of Certified Financial Analyst, he said he was drawn to the complexity and challenge of equity consolidation, which has become an outlet for the energy he once put into this work. He joined MassMutual in 2019.
Stock notebook and the 8 ball toy that Keith Gill uses in his video feeds. At the end of his YouTube feed, Mr Gill and his viewers in Ball 8 ask questions about how the promotion works.
In the summer of 2019, he began building his position in GameStop and posted screenshots of his options positions in the E*Trade account on the WallStreetBets forum. My God, why did you spend $53,000 at GameStop? a retailer in September 2019 over one of Mr. Gill’s screenshots.
In the months that followed, he published regular updates of GME YOLO, a link to the GameStop ticker and the mantra You Only Live Once. It recorded five- and six-figure gains, but also periods when investments declined.
Mr. Gill stayed with GameStop, and his bets became a legend in the day trading world.
For his fans, he took advantage of the desire of millions of amateur investors in the United States to enter the stock market. Transaction costs are reduced to zero and applications allow investors to buy and sell on their phones. The easy access to the market is completed by an online community with many active assistants.
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Many new investors who sat at home during the pandemic said they enjoyed talking to others online about trading stocks or options and learning from those who had made profitable bets.
The discussion is not always positive. WallStreetBets’ unofficial chat room is full of profanity, racism and anti-gay comments. Many of these platforms are critical of Wall Street’s would-be brokers, and some express a desire for financial professionals to stop losing.
I’m not suing anyone, Mr. Gill said. Roaring Kitty was an educational channel where I demonstrated my investment philosophy.
Many people on Wall Street disagreed with Mr. Gill’s optimistic view of GameStop, and received a major blow in response. Hedge funds and other investment professionals have been betting on which stocks will fall.
To bet against stocks, hedge funds borrow shares and sell them, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price and return them. So they can pocket the price difference. But when short stocks go through such a spectacular rally, it becomes painful and they are often forced to exit their positions and buy stocks at a loss. This can lead to a sharp rise in the stock, known as a short squeeze.
The bearish positioning of hedge funds was one of the factors that attracted many small GameStop investors who expected a short squeeze. Mr. Gill said his investment strategy did not depend entirely on short squeeze, but he knew others could potentially bet on him.
So far, professionals have not attributed profits to Gill and other individual investors who have bet large sums on GameStop. Hedge funds like Melvin Capital Management and Maplelane Capital have been burned and ridiculed by the pretentious investors of Reddit.
Many others have stocked up at GameStop and are trying to rise to the moon, according to many Reddit investors. Private investors have also invested in shares of companies such as
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.
hoping to catch that kind of buzz and make some quick cash.
GameStop has collected hundreds of thousands of posts on Reddit over the past month,
according to data released this week by
Melt the water,
a global media information company. The stock has been trading in an uproar and has been one of the most popular bets on the U.S. market in recent days, according to Dow Jones market data.
Keith Gill at his workstation in his basement in Wilmington, Mass.
Experienced traders are beginning to take into account the behavior of influential investors like Mr. Gill and others.
As the founder of Options Pit in Chicago and an options trader for the past twenty years, he has developed sifters that analyze stacks of stocks to determine which stocks are highly active with individual investors. He buys or sells options based on the momentum of the stock and tries to ride a rising or falling wave. He recently recorded this CMA, although he said he wasn’t a fan.
We’re trying to get into these names before they completely implode, Sebastian said, referring to a recent free money deal.
Mr. Gill said his life changed overnight and his future plans were not set in stone. He would like to keep the Jealous Kitty YouTube channel going and maybe buy a house. I thought this deal would be a success, he said, but I didn’t expect what happened last week.
He has a dream. I’ve always wanted to build an indoor track or a mansion in Brockton, he said of his hometown. And now it looks like I might do it.
-Eliza Cho, Jim Oberman and
contributed to this article.
Write to Julia-Ambre Verlaine at Julia.Verlaine@wsj.com and Gunjan Banerjee at Gunjan.Banerji@wsj.com.
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