- r/WallStreetBets has hit 5.9 million users, after gaining more than 1 million users overnight.
- The Reddit community caused a rally in games retailer GameStop’s shares this week.
- The public has been captivated by a narrative of everyman traders vs Wall Street.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Reddit community r/WallStreetBets surged by more than 1 million users overnight to 5.9 million members on Friday, as newly minted day traders and meme lovers piled in to watch the fun.
According to FrontpageMetrics, an unofficial site that measures subreddits’ growth, r/WallStreetBets was the fastest-growing all week, increasing its members by more than 2 million over the last 7 days. The group started Thursday with 4.4 million members.
The community has been around since 2012, and began the year with a little above 1 million users.
That number has surged after the group’s members bought shares in US videogames retailer GameStop en masse, sending the price skyrocketing. The retailer’s share price grew from just above $4 in January to a closing high of $347.51 on Wednesday.
That activity fueled heavy losses for hedge funds which had shorted the stock – essentially a bet that the stock price would go down. You can read an explainer of how short-selling works here. There has also been outrage as the trading apps r/WallStreetBets users are using to buy into the stock, such as Robinhood, experienced outages or halted trading.
Public attention spiked this week as r/WallStreetBets users who made a windfall this week posted stories – not all of which are verified – of being able to pay off debt or for medical care. While some r/WallStreetBets traders clearly have large pools of cash to burn, a narrative of everyman traders taking on Wall Street has generated huge interest in the community.
Those piling into the subreddit may be in for a shock. As described by Steven Asarch for Insider, the community has a “crass outer shell” whereby users refer to themselves as “retards” (an anagram of “traders”) and “autists” and flood the group with nerdy memes.
Insider has approached the moderators of r/WallStreetBets for comment.
The group’s founder, 39-year-old Jaime Rogozinski, has distanced himself from some of the activity, after one short-seller, Andrew Left, said he and his family were harassed by an angry mob.
“It’s a little like watching one of those horror films where you can see the bad guy slowly going up the stairs,” Rogozinski told The Wall Street Journal. “You see this train wreck happening in real time.”