Roaring Pity

Has the game stopped?
Roaring Kitty Talked GameStop and Chugged Beer. Shares Plunged.
Keith Gill, the investor who spurred the meme stock mania in 2021, attracted a huge audience for his public return to livestreaming Friday. But his favorite buy dropped.

I'll admit that I've only very casually followed all of this over the past few years. It's far more interesting from a human psychology perspective than a business perspective, which was essentially: pick a has-been company with its stock in the tank and see if we can use social media to boost it. It was all fun and games with GameStop. Then AMC latched on in a way that was decidedly less fun and far more cynical. But now it feels as if it has all graduated into something more sinister.

Mr. Gill, 37, whose renown was such that he testified before Congress and inspired a film, “Dumb Money,” had been out of the spotlight for the better part of three years, having come under some regulatory scrutiny. He vaulted back into prominence last month by posting on X a cryptic illustration that many took as a sign that he had returned to day trading.

That post was followed by more cryptic social media messages and the leak on Reddit of a screenshot showing that Mr. Gill held more than $100 million of stock and options betting on GameStop. Its shares immediately soared — “to the moon,” in meme speak. The videogame retailer used the opportunity to sell new shares, raising more than $900 million.

So this was all set up as a return to the "fun" of three years ago. And GameStop the company – now run by the former co-founder of Chewey, the online pet food supply company, who is also its largest shareholder post the original MemeStop fall out – was clearly ready to pounce on the opportunity.

And then the unexpected happened. On Friday morning, GameStop released an earnings report earlier than scheduled that revealed disappointing sales and a surprise plan to sell even more shares publicly. Its stock nose-dived.

By noon, when Mr. Gill’s livestream was expected to start, GameStop shares were down more than 30 percent. It wasn’t until close to 12:30 p.m. when — after a preamble of rock Muzak — Mr. Gill’s camera lit up.

Wearing his signature bandanna, Mr. Gill also sported a fake sling, sitting in front of a projection of Gamestop’s plunging stock price, as the sound of a heart monitor beeped in the background.

This all looks and feels... not great. Certainly not fun.

Mr. Gill immediately started with his specific brand of comedy: “Yo, there’s mad heads here,” he marveled to the 650,000 viewers present. He joked that he wasn’t Paul Dano, the actor who played him on the big screen. He drank a beer.

A few minutes later, Mr. Gill progressed to a discussion of GameStop, complimenting its management team and saying he saw potential for its stock. That apparently wasn’t what everyone had tuned in to see, because the company’s shares continued to languish as he spoke.

“Oh no, I’m causing it to go down,” Mr. Gill said at one point. More than 100,000 fans logged off the stream.

There are just red flags galore here. The return. The company selling shares. The early earnings release. The bad numbers. The praising of the management team. The touting the stock. The selling of more stock. The log-off. The timing of it all.

The company is currently worth $10B. It lost $32M last quarter, which was an improvement on the $50M it lost a year ago. But revenue was $881M down from $1.24B a year ago. This is a shrinking company that continues to lose money.

It's not quite TruthSocial bad, but it's bad. Speaking of, it feels like that stock is perhaps the pinnacle – well really the opposite of a pinnacle – of all this. It's a public company that trades not based on anything other than the desire to support or bet with/on Donald Trump. From the ticker on down, this is the play. In the most disgusting way possible, it's rather brilliant. As by far the largest owner of the entity, Trump can raise money in a way that no one else can. To run for president. to pay legal bills. To do whatever he wants.

If the system was once rigged, now it's just gamed. And not for the lolz anymore, but for the grift.