The markets are not okay. If you’ve paid any attention to internet chatter this week, you’ve probably seen the names RoaringKitty or DeepFuckingValue — the bullish trader behind the recent GameStop stock phenomenon who’s inspired millions of retail investors to get behind his bet, which has nearly bankrupted at least one hedge fund. Until recently, the person behind the handles has been something of a mystery; they post their balance sheet with their millions in gains and losses on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets forum, but that’s all there’s been to go on. Today, however, The Wall Street Journal catches up with the 34-year-old behind the sensation: his name is Keith Gill, and he’s a father and certified financial analyst who lives in Massachusetts.
In his own words, he didn’t expect any of this. He’s just a guy who used to market life insurance. (Though he does say that he might build an indoor track facility in his hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts, with his millions.)
As The Journal reports, Gill doesn’t see himself as a rabble-rouser — “just someone who believes investors can find value in unloved stocks,” they write. “He never expected to have a legion of fans debating his identity online, or millions of dollars in his trading account.” As the excellent profile states, Gill began investing in GameStop in June 2019, when its stock was floating around $5 a share. “Earlier that year, the game retailer was hunting for its fifth chief executive in a little over 12 months. Mr. Gill kept buying,” the Journal reports. “Although he never played much besides Super Mario or Donkey Kong, he saw potential for the struggling retailer to reinvigorate itself by attracting new customers with the latest videogame consoles.”
And he was right, of course, though not necessarily for all the reasons he might have expected. What’s powering this latest bonanza is what’s known as a short squeeze — hedge funds that shorted GameStop stock are now scrambling to cover their bets, which drives the stock price up further. As with most financial arcana, it both is and isn’t that complicated. What’s perhaps more interesting to consider is how Gill found an unloved stock two years ago, placed a bet because he believed in it, and is still somehow winning.