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A revolution. An army of retail traders. The genesis of Reddit meme stock trading and the definition of speculative craze. Meet GameStop – a video game retailer soaring as much as 2,400% in a few weeks propelled by Reddit’s degens and apes – amateur investors leaping into the stock in a collective effort to bring down the big bad hedge funds like Melvin Capital. And they arguably did – Melvin closed doors one year after its short position on GameStop cost a whopping $7bn, or 53% of the entire fund. GameStop is around 60% astray from its peak, but will go down in market history when one wants to know about short squeezes.
AMC is among those high-profile retail plays, along with GameStop, that birthed a new breed of traders – those thrill-seeking momentum chasers pumped to get into the intense price swings of downtrodden companies. In early 2021, AMC, a US movie theater chain, was on the brink of bankruptcy, pressured by looming debt and no love from investors. Eagle-eyed retail traders spotted an opportunity in the struggling company and piled in, shooting its stock price from $2 to more than $70. With the meme stock craze now a fading memory, AMC shares are changing hands at around $15 while its market value floats near $7bn.
The perfect mix of tech and memes doesn’t exi… Yeah, we know, we know. The meme-dropping tech tycoon Mr. Musk would disagree. His company Tesla gets in the limelight whenever there are talks about meme stocks. An OG in the meme-themed investing, Tesla’s stock shot up to silly valuations thanks to globally coordinated retail trading. In 2022, however, the meme trading fervor has been rather silenced and Tesla’s market cap is back under $1 trillion. China’s Covid shutdowns and supply shortages dented the EV maker’s deliveries with 254k cars sent out in the second quarter of 2022, down from 310k in the first quarter.
US data analytics group Palantir debuted at $10 a share in September 2020 but wasn’t much favored by investors even as it boasted a $16.5bn valuation. Palantir is famous for its work for the US defense and national security community. Redditors, however, praise it as the company that facilitated the coordination and delivery of covid vaccines. And that can only mean one thing – a collective stock boost to valuations detached from reality. Shares of Palantir hit an all-time high of $45 at the peak of retail trading in late January 2021. The company’s stock has been pinned near its initial price in 2022 amid rapidly-changing market sentiment.
If we talk about that high growth, we can’t miss mentioning Canadian pot company Tilray – once a superstar worth $14bn but now pummeled into the ground as the cannabis sector struggles to take off. Tilray’s share price slid from a record high of $300 in late 2018 to roughly $3 by mid-2022. During the retail-fueled bullish run in early 2021, Tilray pumped from about $8 to over $60 as it caught the eye of Redditors looking for their next looting. The company has recently slashed its prices on weed products to better compete with smaller rivals and retain market share. But recovering from a 98% loss would most likely take more than that.
BlackBerry is one of those downbeat stocks that fired up in 2021 when billions of shares changed hands daily between amateur investors and hedge funds trying to outsmart each other. The frenzied battle helped BlackBerry get in the spotlight when its shares were trading at around $7 a share in early January 2021. By the end of the month, the stock hit $29. The influence of day traders conspiring on Reddit was short-lived and by February 2021 shares were where they were before the trading boom. Still, the pioneer of smartphones that’s now making cybersecurity products will retain its spot in the history books as a Reddit darling.
Nokia, the Finnish telecoms equipment maker, was among those few beneficiaries of the full-throated rally architected in the dim corners of r/wallstreetbets. The company fell into the Redditors’ radar as a giant 5G sleeping bull that was due for an abrupt awakening. The relatively low price tag of just under €3 a share was enough to convince a bunch of self-labeled degens to ‘ape into’ the stock. While there wasn’t a definite straight-to-orbit launch, Nokia’s share price leapt about 16% in January 2021, the meme-stock prime time. Nokia has preserved its gains and its shares have recently been floating just under €5 a share.
Online gaming company Roblox arrived late to the party with its direct listing in March of 2021. In other words, it missed those meme-themed ape-filled rocket ships landing on the moon a couple of months earlier. Nevertheless, Roblox had a pretty strong trading debut – it closed at $69.50 a share, or a $39bn valuation, marking the largest direct listing of a tech company to date. Roblox is a fairly new addition to the exclusive list of Reddit stocks but it did visit the orbit when its shares soared to $141 in late 2021. The metaverse-focused firm has since erased about 70% of that price tag with shares floating around $40 to $50 in mid-2022.
Rumors of taking off at a 50x multiple. Billions of dollars to be injected at acquisition? Could only mean one thing – you’re on Reddit, watching an award-sprinkled post on WallStreetBets. The company concerned is Microvision – a favorite among amateur investors brute-forcing their way to riches by piling into knocked-down stocks targeted by professional short sellers. Microvision, a technology firm, shot up to quadruple its valuation in January 2021 when it peaked at $23.50 a share. A short breather and then a new high was made in April when shares topped $28. The rally fizzled out in early 2022 when the company traded at around $3 a share.
Koss is among the biggest winners of the retail trading bonanza. In the final week of January 2021, the headphone maker skyrocketed more than 4,000% to reach an all-time high of $127 a share, up from a mere $3 a few days prior. The reason? Koss had a tiny market cap of just around $20m, making it an easy ride for traders seeking asymmetric returns in a highly speculative and risky time. A week later, the stock had tumbled back around its pre-megapump levels, trading at $14 a share. Fast forward to mid-2022, Koss boasts a market valuation of just around $70m.
America’s largest chipmaker Nvidia was instrumental in forming the retail-fueled bull attack in 2021. The $380bn chip giant, however, differed in one key aspect – the pump wasn’t immediately followed by a dump. Nvidia’s stock gained a modest 16% in January 2021 when GameStop and other Reddit favs were notching stratospheric returns. When those superstars shimmered, Nvidia powered up on a months-long journey to an all-time high in November 2021 – a solid $348 a share. Nvidia’s advance was largely driven by the broad tech run rather than the Reddit buying momentum. Anyway, by mid-2022, shares were off by about 50% from their peak.
Saudi-owned EV startup Lucid became a public company in July 2021 through a merger with blank cheque company Churchill Capital Corp IV. Before boasting its own ticker, Lucid was available to investors through that same Churchill Capital Corp IV. The Tesla-rival quickly stood out to Redditors looking for their next ‘destination Moon’ rocket ship. The theme among those optimistic about Lucid was its ambition to beat industry leader Tesla in the race for electric drives. And so it began. The company’s stock shot up about 500% in early 2021, skittered down about 60%, and then pumped again in October the same year but failed to log a new high.
Tech heavyweight Apple is not your typical small cap Reddit stock you could push around with a few of your mates placing market orders. Indeed, while Apple never had a reputation for a shorted stock, the iPhone maker briefly rubbed shoulders with Reddit favorites. Apple is not only a company in the top echelon, it’s the world’s most valuable company (even if it’s elbowed out every now and then by Saudi Aramco. This status itself gives Apple an aura of a company that’s easy to own, especially among retail traders. The Cupertino, California-based tech behemoth boasts a $2.4tn valuation and became the first company to hit a price tag of $3tn.
A solid punter-favorite, AMD is still circulating around Reddit’s trading boards even after the “Buy Everything” rally that unfurled in 2021. The semiconductor company has been around for a while. Founded in 1969, handing out shares as a public company since 1972, this old-timer only recently hit an all-time high of $164 a share in November 2021 when tech stocks were booming across the board. Other than that, AMD, valued at roughly $130bn, has been showing signs of strength and ambitions for a data center powerhouse – the company acquired US rival Xilinx in a $35bn all-stock transaction in late 2020.
With pot consumption soaring during the pandemic, Sundial Growers had its moment of glory in early 2021 when shares spiked thanks to stay-at-home Redditors seeking that high growth potential. Trading for less than 50 cents a share in January 2021, the Canada-based cannabis company became the retail traders’ best bud. Consequently, shares hit a high of $3.90 in mid-February before they reversed course. Lack of institutional interest and dim hopes of imminent federal legalization have kept a lid on that stock ever since it left the Reddit army high-drated, however.
Corsair went public at just the right time – a PC-focused hardware company launched for trading at $15 a share near the end of September 2020. What followed was a wave of tech-loving geeks snapping up shares on Reddit forums. While the stock had doubled in price just before the bulls attacked three months later, Corsair still had room to run. Whether it was for the products it makes, or the hype about meme trading, Corsair’s share price hit $50 in January 2021. Sadly for those diamond hands among us, the hardware maker is now below its IPO price after sweeping pessimism wiped out 70% of the stock’s valuation in a year and a half.
Gambling and e-sports company Penn National Gaming rallied in almost all of 2020 – it hit a bottom of $4 a share and went on a megapump to reach its all-time high at $142 a share in March 2021, sitting on more than 3,400% of gains. The gambling company is betting on a bright future despite a struggling share price. It raised its full-year guidance for 2022 after reporting first-quarter revenue of $1.56B, or a jump of 23%. While it was above Wall Street estimates, it did little to boost investor confidence. Shares of Penn were down about 40% for the first six months of 2022 and more than 76% from their record high.
OG investors will know about SoFi one before its merger with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings V (IPOE). SoFi, short for Social Finance, is a one-stop financial shop offering online loans, stock trading, and banking services, among others. It debuted on the Nasdaq exchange on June 1, 2021 after merging with investor Chamath Palihapitiya’s blank-check company named above. SoFi expanded further by purchasing banking-software maker Technisys SA in a $1.1bn all-stock deal in February 2022. The company’s stock, however, could use some of that financial advice offered on the website. Shares were down more than 65% in the first half of 2022.
Michael Jordan owns a stake in it, the CEO says if you sell those shares he’ll work so hard you’ll regret this decision for life. What’s all that fuss about? Fantasy sports and betting group DraftKings is really putting itself out there. The company had a wild run slightly after its IPO in April 2020. Shares shot up about 600% and hit their peak during the retail trading bonanza in early 2021. After those bulls got exhausted, however, bears took over and the stock’s down more than 80% from its record after the company predicted losses for 2022 will widen due to increased spending to stay competitive in the US market.
Once a fast-growing e-commerce platform, ContextLogic has seen its shopping cart get emptied. The company, better known as Wish, entered public markets with an IPO priced at $24 a share in December 2020. A month later, the Reddit army marched forward and those shares peaked at an all-time high of $33. Reality hit and Wish reported an 18% revenue drop for 2021. Not too bad? The quarter ended September 2021 logged a 40% slide in revenue. The next quarter? A hefty 64% tumble. First quarter of 2022? A deep 75% plunge. Let that sink in, and let’s take a look at the chart: down 93% from IPO price. They wish things went differently.
Founded by entrepreneur and visionary Jack Ma, Alibaba is the second-largest IPO in history with $21.8bn pulled in from investors. It is also financial behemoth Softbank’s single biggest investment. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, as big as it is, has been on a steady downfall for the past couple of years. Since soaring to a record high in late 2020, the firm has struggled to retain shareholders, resulting in a 60% slide. However, it should be noted that Chinese authorities aren’t making things easier; China’s tech giants are under tough regulatory scrutiny and were also battered by draconian coronavirus regimes.
Streaming platform Roku has been faring pretty well since its IPO at $14 a share back in 2017. Now, the company is trading at roughly $90 apiece but not without major hiccups along the way. Roku’s valuation peaked at $62bn in mid-2021 while rival Netflix was gearing up to reach its own sky-is-the-limit moment a few months later. With Netflix reporting low subscriber growth in early 2022, investors fled not only from the streaming giant but from the industry as a whole. Effects rippled across the board and Roku took a hit too. Rumor has it, these two might now come up with a joint service as Netflix pivots to an ad-based subscription.
Peloton set out with the mission to bring static bikes into people’s homes. Eventually, it turned into a point of interest among investors and consumers wanting to make a buck… or just wanting to get ripped. The company’s shares soared by more than 400% in 2020 and entered 2021 with expectations for even greater success. Until all came crashing down. The $50bn connected fitness company had to recall products under tragic circumstances, the CEO faced investor backlash over his excessive spending, ultimately ceding his seat and laying off three in 10 employees. Thanks to all this, this stock fell 60% off its IPO price.
Krispy Kreme debuted for trading on July 1, 2021 with shares closing higher by 24%. The company was seeking a valuation of roughly $4bn, or $21 to $24 a share. Still, with shares going out of the gate at $17, the board met the target with the closing bell as they finished at $21 apiece. That was actually DNUT’s second public appearance after it was taken private by JAB Holding in 2016 after initially IPOing in 2000. JAB continues to be the largest shareholder with over 68 million shares or about 43% of the company. The glazed-doughnut maker has been slinging the sweet treats for over 80 years and has stores all around the world.
Trading platform Robinhood drove the market frenzy that pumped stocks like GameStop and AMC. But the company that introduced meme trading and gamified the investing experience (for which it was sued by regulators) became a meme itself. It first sparked outrage when it halted trading on hot meme stocks that were blasting off like there was no tomorrow. Then came its IPO at $38 a share and the stock closed up 24% on debut day Aug 3, 2021. Fast forward, however, and the company’s value has been demolished pretty bad, and now there's even rumors that Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX wants to scoop up the languishing trading app.
Battery maker Microvast was the reason for many Reddit traders to “yolo” into the stock market. They justified their bullishness with reasons such as a contract with the US government to develop super-fast charging batteries for electric vehicles, or a whole R&D center in Orlando. Microvast had its trading debut on July 26, 2021 when it merged with blank check company Tuscan Holdings Corp. The two companies received around $822m in cash after the closing of the deal, including a $540m investment led by Oshkosh, BlackRock, and a few others. But the newly-public company failed to catch on and by mid-2022 its shares were down about 80%.
Etsy, the marketplace for handmade goods, was unnoticed by investors for the most part of its existence as a public company. While it was available to investors since its IPO in 2015, it wasn’t until 2020 that the e-commerce company became highly fashionable as a pandemic play. Shares of Etsy soared about 300% in 2020 alone, and then hit a record high at $307 in November 2021. However, not many companies can replicate the decline that was about to follow right after lockdowns eased and people started moving around: Etsy’s shares fell off a cliff with a 70% wipeout in value in just half a year. Ok, maybe Netflix is a contender.
Fastly caught the public eye in 2019 when other tech stocks such as Lyft, Uber, and Zoom had their trading debut. Amid a welcoming investment climate, the software company soared more than 60% on its first day. Fastly enjoyed fast but short-lived growth in 2020 – the stock began its long price descent in early 2021 on disappointing figures, light guidance, and increasing concerns about expansion. The company operates a huge content delivery network, so it must work hard on maintaining the up-time, right? Well, not exactly. Thousands of websites went offline for an hour on June 8, 2021, thanks to Fastly’s connectivity problems.
The stars aligned for US biotech firm Novavax – the world entered into its first lap of pandemic lockdowns, there was a vaccine race among pharmaceutical companies, and swathes of stay-at-home retail investors were organizing their stock picks on Reddit. Understandably, big time investors were betting on vaccine stocks. In May 2019, Novavax was trading at $0.36 before a 1-for-20 reverse stock split. The stock kept sliding to hit an all-time low of $3.93 (post-split) on Jan 10, 2020. Fast forward to February 2021, vaccines have materialized, the stock’s had a stratospheric boost and landed on the moon with gains of over 7,200% in just a year.
Crypto-friendly Block is one of the few companies that holds Bitcoin on their balance sheet – perhaps not a surprise when considering many see Block founder Jack Dorsey as a Bitcoin maxi. The payments company was previously known as Square, but since it now wants to be a frontrunner in crypto transactions and blockchain operations, it opted for an astute name change. Shares hit a record high in early 2021 in part thanks to pandemic-fueled purchases, but also the meme stock frenzy that swept Wall Street at the time. And much like those high-flying tech stocks, Block has suffered over the first half of 2022 and was down more than 60% YTD.
If we’re ranking meme stonks, Newegg is a solid candidate for a spot near the top. Newegg is an online retailer that sells a wide assortment of computers and electronics. The e-retailer went public via a reverse merger in May 2021 and traded for about $10 a share before it went off the charts a couple of weeks later. The stock hit a high of just below $80 apiece in July 2021 before coming down by 63% the same month. Selling pressure didn’t just continue. It intensified to a sobering reality in which shares changed hands at about 50% off Newegg’s IPO price. Still, some Reddit trades defo had a field day.
Plug, a hydrogen fuel-cell maker, was considered a sleeping giant by Redditors hunting for quick returns. And indeed, the stock roughly doubled in January 2021 when it was making rounds on r/wallstreetbets. More than that, shares of the company were trading at $15 in late 2020 when your pals, the Reddit short-squeeze mob, shifted gears to send the stock to around $75 in January 2021. Soon after, nonetheless, enthusiasm faded, the risky bets folded, and the stock flunked. Despite the drop, Plug isn’t doing too bad nowadays with shares hovering $20 apiece as the company boasts around a $10bn market cap.
Astra, a space start-up boasting a valuation of around $370m, is all about that visit to the moon. The rocket builder is backed by Salesforce co-founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. It went public via a Spac deal with Holicity. Through the merger, Astra netted roughly $500m in fresh capital and became the first space company to trade on the Nasdaq. Initially, the company planned to launch hundreds of low-cost satellites beaming down Internet connection. Astra’s first NASA mission, however, was unsuccessful in June 2022. It disappointed investors and just as that rocket, the stock failed to launch.
Cybersecurity company Cloudflare is a publicly traded toddler who just in 2019 stepped into the grasp of investors worldwide. Even before that, it boasted the ‘unicorn’ status – a privately-held startup company valued at more than $1bn. On its debut day, Cloudflare was valued at the ballpark of $4bn. Cloudflare cites Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud as its rivals and provides services to more than 75,000 paying customers. More recently, in the first half of 2022, shares plummeted by more than 60% even after the group predicted higher revenue in the same year’s guidance: a hefty $955m to $959m, up from $927m to $931m.
Clover has all the ingredients we’re familiar with for a tasty Reddit gourmet – a downbeat healthcare company pushed public through a merger with a blank-cheque company founded by none other than Spac King Chamath Palihapitiya. The pull was strong and soon after the name landed on WallStreetBets, the heat was on. In less than a couple of weeks in June 2021, Clover skyrocketed to nearly $30, up from less than $7 prior to the rally. While short-squeeze stocks such as GameStop and AMC had their field day in early 2021, Clover was fighting allegations for luring investors into a broken business.
Founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is competing with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX in a highly exclusive race to space. Virgin Galactic went public in 2019 via a SPAC with the mission to open space for everyone. It's had a fair amount of whipsaw trading just as any other Reddit stock. Shares soared from their pre-merger price of $10 to over $55 in mid-2021 after some milestones on the trip to space. Mayday arrived when Branson and then-chair Chamath Palihapitiya cashed out millions of shares. Talk about a round trip – from a $14bn valuation to less than $2bn a year later.