To Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the stock-buying frenzy that’s pushed GameStop
and other stocks higher is the culmination of the internet’s potential.
“It’s a chance for Joe and Jane America — the retail buyers
of stock — to flex back and push back on these hedge funds,” Ohanian, who is
married to tennis superstar Serena Williams, said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk
Box” on Thursday.
“I don’t think we go back to a world before this because I
think these communities [are] a byproduct of the connected internet,” he added.
“Whether it’s one platform or another, this is the new normal.”
What has happened in the markets in recent sectors Ohanian compared to the disruption seen in other sectors, including media, caused by the rise of social media, calling it a “bottom-up revolution.”
“We’ve seen this across media, we’ve seen this across so many sectors, and now it’s happening to finance,” Ohanian said in the CNBC
‘I don’t think we go back to a world before this because I think these communities [are] a byproduct of the connected internet.’
GameStop’s rise has been largely fueled by a community on Reddit called WallStreetBets, where users have even developed their own lingo. The forum has more than 3 million members as of Wednesday, and that number is still climbing.
Shares in GameStop briefly hit the $500 mark in premarket trading, a stunning rise from the start of 2021 when the stock was worth just $19. The videogame retailer isn’t the only company seeing a boom like this. Other shorted companies including AMC Entertainment Holdings
and retailer Express Inc.
have seen stark upticks in value without any real news to back them up.
Later on Twitter
Ohanian noted that the genesis for the original GameStop trades was likely not so political, but that as with other online movements it came to “evolve and take on a life” of its own. He also said he sees what’s happening now as an evolution of the Occupy Wall Street movement from a decade ago.
However, Ohanian also offered a word of caution to everyday
people considering joining in on the GameStop movement: “Friendly reminder:
Please do not invest money you can’t afford to lose,” he tweeted.
Ohanian left Reddit in 2010, but remained on the social platform’s board until last year when he stepped down and asked to be replaced by a Black candidate. Since leaving Reddit’s board, Ohanian has set up a new venture-capital fund named 776, in a reference to the year the first Olympics were held in Ancient Greece. He has said his goal is to assist young entrepreneurs.