A Wall Street titan connected to the remarkable Robinhood feeding frenzy abruptly quit Twitter on Friday night, as it emerged that some of the board members of the companies involved have cashed in on the surreal week.
Steve Cohen, the financier and owner of the New York Mets, who is worth an estimated $14.6 billion, bowed out of Twitter on Friday.
Cohen’s company Point72 Asset Management, a $19 billion hedge fund firm which he founded in 2018, has been sucked into the drama this week via their relationship with Melvin Capital, a hedge fund that had a massive bet against GameStop.
Point72 already had roughly $1 billion under management with Melvin added $750 million to help stabilize Melvin this week when GameStop’s share price soared, causing massive losses for Melvin.
Steve Cohen, a financier worth around $14.6bn, has been swept up in the GameStop saga
Cohen had been debating the week’s trades with Dave Portnoy, Barstool Sports founder
GameStop’s shares jumped 135 per cent on Wednesday alone, and are up more than 1,700 per cent this year after a Reddit forum, WallStreetBets, began forcing the price up largely via the trading platform Robinhood.
The rise has taken a toll on some large investors, such as Melvin, who had bet against the stock.
Cohen, who bought the New York Mets in November, outflanking Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez to snap up the baseball team, was early in the week seeming to enjoy robust debate about the rollercoaster markets.
‘Rough crowd on Twitter tonight,’ Cohen tweeted Wednesday night. ‘Hey stock jockeys keep bringing it.’
On Thursday, Cohen got into a Twitter debate with celebrity day trader Dave Portnoy, after the Barstool Sports blogger attacked Cohen for restrictions on trading apps such as Robinhood that were hurting the novice investors driving GameStop’s surging stock value.
‘Hey Dave , What’s your beef with me,’ Cohen tweeted back. ‘I’m just trying to make a living just like you. Happy to take this offline.’
Portnoy finally tweeted: ‘At least you are speaking and trying to answer. That is appreciated.’
By Friday night, Cohen’s account had been deleted.
Many mourned his departure from Twitter, having enjoyed his unusual interaction with Mets fans and unfiltered opinions.
‘Give this to Steve Cohen, he didn’t very loudly announce that he needed a ‘self care social media break’ before logging off,’ tweeted Laura Albanese, a sports reporter with Newsday.
Others took a more comical side, with one tweeting: ‘It’s nice to see Steve Cohen honoring the Mets tradition of giving up after a few months.’
Traders, pictured on the New York Stock Exchange on January 9, have had a wild week
Cohen’s bowing out from social media came as it emerged that others involved in the extraordinary week have profited enormously from the situation.
Since January 1, executives at BlackBerry and GameStop have been selling stock, cashing in a total of more than $22 million in stock.
The executives have also been given a massive boost by the amateur traders on social media who have bid up the companies’ shares.
Some have declared it their mission to divert profits from Wall Street to ordinary people, but in doing so have inadvertently helped the company directors.
Steve Rai, Blackberry’s Chief Financial Officer (left), and Kurt Wolf, a board member of GameStop have both profited from the soaring of their companies’ stocks
Broker Robinhood has been the focus of interest in the GameStop surging stocks
Protesters gathered outside the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday evening
Three BlackBerry executives last week cashed out nearly $1.7 million worth of the company’s stock, CBS News reported.
One of the three, BlackBerry Chief Financial Officer Steve Rai, sold all of his shares in the company, though he has unvested options that could turn into shares in the future.
BlackBerry shares were trading at about $5.50 until the Reddit board seized upon it, meaning that the trio’s stock would be worth about $700,000.
But the frenzy added $1 million to the combined value of their shares.
It was unclear how much of the $1.7 million went to Rai.
At GameStop, Kurt Wolf, a money manager and former executive consultant who joined GameStop’s board last year, sold more than two thirds of his stock in January.
The sale earnt Wolf’s investment fund just over $17 million.
There is no allegation of improper insider trading connected with any of the trades.
The developments with the financiers came as Robinhood continued to restrict trading for small-scale investors.
On Thursday Robinhood blocked the sale of certain stocks and sold users’ shares without permission – causing uproar online, protests on Wall Street, and launching investigations from Congress and the New York attorney general.
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, 33, defended his firm’s actions on Thursday night.
Vlad Tenev defended his company’s actions in an interview on Thursday night
‘We had to make a very difficult decision. It’s been a challenging day,’ Tenev told MSNBC.
Robinhood cited ‘recent volatility’ for the decision to block users from buying stock in GameStop and 12 other companies which the Reddit users had selected for ‘short squeezes.’
The company needed to bolster its cash cushion to be able to do business. With the extra cash infusion, Robinhood said it would lift restrictions on certain stocks, which had been limited on Thursday.
However, on Friday Robinhood users were still limited.
Clients were by the end of the day only able to buy a single share of GameStop, having been able to buy five at the start of trading.
The stock trading app also expanded its list of restricted stocks from 13 earlier in the day to 50.
A ‘short squeeze’ happens when investors target a stock – in this case, GameStop, that has a large ‘short interest’.
A short is when an investor essentially places a bet that a stock will go down. If it goes down, the investor makes money. But a squeeze happens when another investor bets that the stock is going to go up. If enough investors do that, the price of the stock pushes higher and squeezes out the short – causing the investor who bet that the stock would go down to lose money.
The company has been hit with a class-action lawsuit accusing it of siding with Wall Street by blocking investors’ ability to buy shares.