The WallStreetBets subreddit, which made headlines earlier this year for its role in the GameStop saga, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week. The community, which describes itself as “like 4chan found a Bloomberg Terminal”, has grown from a small group of risk-loving traders to a cultural phenomenon with over 14 million members.
The subreddit was created in 2012 by Jaime Rogozinski, a former IT consultant who wanted to share his unconventional trading strategies and learn from others. He was inspired by the book “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, which chronicled the bets made by a few investors who predicted the 2008 financial crisis. Rogozinski wanted to create a forum where people could discuss high-risk, high-reward trades that were often ignored or ridiculed by mainstream financial media.
The subreddit’s motto is “YOLO”, which stands for “You Only Live Once”. The members, who call themselves “degenerates”, post screenshots of their portfolios, gains, losses, and bets on various stocks, options, futures, and cryptocurrencies. They also share memes, jokes, news, and opinions on the market and the economy. The subreddit has a distinct culture and language, with terms such as “tendies” (profits), “diamond hands” (holding on to a position despite volatility), and “autist” (a self-deprecating term for someone who is obsessed with numbers and patterns).
The Rise of Meme Stocks
The subreddit gained mainstream attention in January 2021, when it sparked a massive rally in the shares of GameStop, a struggling video game retailer that was heavily shorted by hedge funds. The members of WallStreetBets saw an opportunity to profit from a short squeeze, which occurs when a large number of short sellers are forced to buy back the shares they borrowed at higher prices, pushing the stock price even higher.
The GameStop saga was seen as a David vs Goliath battle between retail investors and Wall Street elites. It also attracted the interest of celebrities, politicians, regulators, and media outlets. The subreddit’s traffic surged from 2 million daily visitors in December 2020 to over 40 million in January 2021. The subreddit also spawned several copycats and spin-offs, such as r/Superstonk and r/WallStreetBetsElite.
The GameStop frenzy was not the first time that WallStreetBets influenced the market. The subreddit has been known for its affinity for meme stocks, which are stocks that are popular among online communities and social media platforms. Some of the meme stocks that have been featured on WallStreetBets include Tesla, AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry, Nokia, Palantir, and Dogecoin.
The Future of WallStreetBets
As WallStreetBets celebrates its 10th anniversary, it faces several challenges and opportunities. The subreddit has been criticized for its lack of moderation, its promotion of gambling and speculation, its potential for market manipulation and fraud, and its impact on financial stability and investor protection. The subreddit has also faced several controversies, such as the banning of some users and moderators, the deletion of some posts and comments, the creation of a Discord server that was later shut down by Discord, and the launch of a merchandise store that was later removed by Shopify.
On the other hand, the subreddit has also been praised for its democratization of finance, its empowerment of retail investors, its innovation and creativity, its entertainment value and humor, and its social impact and philanthropy. The subreddit has also inspired several academic studies, documentaries, books, podcasts, and movies.
The future of WallStreetBets is uncertain, but one thing is clear: the community is not going away anytime soon. As Rogozinski said in an interview with Insider: “WallStreetBets is bigger than me. It’s bigger than any individual person or any individual company or any individual stock.”