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Reddit runs the stock market

Image: Hans Eiskonen / Reddit / Protocol
reddit bull market

Good morning! This Tuesday, how Redditors outsmarted Wall Street, the ups and downs of the electric Mustang and Dan Riccio has a big new job.

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The Big Story

GameStop won't stop

How do you push a stock up 140% in a few hours and 500% in a month, turning a once-crashing stock of a maybe-still-crashing company into one of the market's biggest winners? Well, you should ask r/WallStreetBets.

  • The 2.1 million subscribers to the r/WallStreetBets subreddit have long had market-moving power. And members have been pushing GameStop as a stock to invest in for almost two years, based on what has seemed like fairly straightforward financial reasoning.
  • But the recent spike seems to come from something simpler: the WSB investors just … deciding to do it. A few enterprising investors decided to try to punish those who were shorting the then-still-cheap stock, because what you always need on the internet is an enemy.
  • That worked, which got other people on board, which caused larger investors to get in, which drove up the price, which made those first investors look like geniuses, which made more people pay attention and 'round and 'round things went.
  • With GameStop shares up as high as $150, the WSB team kept doubling down. "IM NOT SELLING THIS UNTIL AT LEAST $1000+ GME 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 BUCKLE THE FUCK UP" was the title of a top post on the subreddit on Monday, from the user dumbledoreRothIRA.

Why GameStop? You can't overlook the connection with gamers, but it also helped that Michael Burry — one of the investors who predicted and made a fortune from the 2008 economic crisis — has been publicly saying the company was undervalued.

  • More recently, Chewy's Ryan Cohen bought a big stake in GameStop and has started pushing it to become a more viable online business.

GameStop's stock began to fall fast on Monday, dropping from $144 to $61 in a little less than two hours, before recovering a bit and closing at $77.

  • As the price fell, WSB members quickly began to panic, but not to give up: "TO EVERYONE WHO RESPONDED TO ME IN THE LAST THREAD IM NOT SELLING. I JUST THINK IM FUCKED LOL," one user wrote.

It all sounds a bit like a long-term troll, a bunch of people doing it for the lulz. "It certainly started as a meme. That's how WallStreetBets operates," Jaime Rogozinski, who created the subreddit, told Wired. But the lulz are moving the market, and the WSB traders are already onto their next targets: BlackBerry and Nokia. Because apparently it's 2002 again.

Transportation

Ford vs. Tesla

Mike Murphy writes: I recently got to test out Ford's new Mustang Mach-E, its first real contender in the all-electric vehicle market. Even though it looks nothing like any Mustang in the company's history (more like a sensible mid-range Mazda SUV), you can feel that it was designed by the same company. I absolutely loved driving it, but it was completely hamstrung by problems that Tesla has already started to figure out.

The car itself is only half the equation in the electric vehicle world, at least for now. I own a Tesla, and the experience of driving and charging the car has always felt simple and modern. With the new Mustang, not so much.

  • Unlike Tesla, Ford hasn't built up its own charging infrastructure, instead relying primarily on third-party charging companies. The ease of using those machines, and figuring out whether they work with the Mustang — and how much they'll cost — varies by station. I found few that could charge anywhere nearly as quickly as Tesla's Superchargers. It's too cold out to wait an hour and a half to charge your car.
  • The underdeveloped software and inconsistent charging experience make me suspect that Ford will struggle to shift these cars in large numbers. And with countries around the world setting aggressive deadlines on when they'll ban internal combustion engines, Ford and every other traditional automaker needs to figure it out quickly.

Unless Ford can more directly control all aspects of the electric vehicle experience, it's going to be tough to convince would-be EV buyers. This isn't like taking your new car to a gas station you haven't been to before; it's a whole new type of station the consumer needs to be educated on.

People Are Talking

Xi Jinping warned the world against "meddling in other countries' internal affairs":

  • "History and reality have made it clear time and again that the misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation — be it in the form of a cold war, hot war, trade war or tech war — will eventually hurt all countries' interest and undermine everyone's well-being."

Ajit Manocha, president of the semiconductor trade group SEMI, asked the Commerce Department's Gina Raimondo to review Trump's export controls:

  • "Multilateral controls — where items of concern are controlled by all major producing nations — create a level playing field, maximize effectiveness, and minimize harm to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness."

Building a "virtual office" of digital whiteboards, videoconference tools and the like is core to the future of work, said Microsoft's Jared Spataro:

  • "Those spaces will very quickly become the center of gravity for work. We'll use them in the kitchen, we'll use them in transit to our jobs. Even when we move back into real estate, we won't be back to one hundred percent. You will come into the office, do your work, and then roll up your workspace and take it with you."

Elon Musk said President Biden is the right guy to tackle climate change:

  • "Not that we should get complacent or anything, but the wind is at our back for solving the climate crisis with the new administration."

Your next R&D project better involve brain-computer interfaces, Valve's Gabe Newell said:

  • "If you're a software developer in 2022 who doesn't have one of these in your test lab, you're making a silly mistake."

A MESSAGE FROM NASDAQ

Nasdaq

From commerce to content and from Big Tech to Big Government, leading technology analyst Benedict Evans has a knack for seeing the future. At this event, he'll debut and discuss his 2021 trends and predictions for a tech industry — and a world — in the middle of huge change. Join us for this event tomorrow, Jan. 27 at 11 a.m. ET.

RSVP today.

Making Moves

John Ternus is Apple's new SVP of hardware engineering. Dan Riccio, who had the job before, is moving to "a new role focusing on a new project." So, $10 says that's either AR glasses or cars.

Public hired two new C-suite execs: Sruthi Lanka as CFO and Stephen Sikes as COO.

On Protocol: Clara Shih is Salesforce's new CEO of Service Cloud. She left Salesforce in 2009 to start customer engagement platform Hearsay Systems.

Maggie Leung is a16z's new executive editor. She joins from NerdWallet, and will help run the VC firm's new media arm.

Jan Kemper is N26's new CFO. He's got IPO experience, having taken Zalando public in 2014.

Liz Meyerdirk is the new CEO of The Pill Club, joining after helping helm Uber Eats.

In Other News

  • On Protocol: President Biden is replacing all U.S. government-owned vehicles with "net-zero emission" electric vehicles in the future. He also made it harder for federal agencies to buy imported products.
  • Google's PAC won't contribute to members of Congress that voted against certifying the election results. It said the policy would remain in place for this cycle.
  • Google said its privacy-friendly cookie alternative might work. Tests of the "Federated Learning of Cohorts" API show that advertisers will see 95% of conversions compared to typical cookie-based ads.
  • Twitter's trying community moderation. It announced a pilot of Birdwatch, which lets users identify misleading tweets and add context notes.
  • Tech donors are trying to oust Gavin Newsom. Doug Leone, Dixon Doll and David Sacks all contributed to the recall efforts, while Chamath Palihapitiya announced he's running for governor.
  • There's an internal battle inside Signal, The Verge reported, with current and former employees raising questions about new features that could make the app vulnerable to abuse.
  • TSMC and UMC might hike auto chip prices again, as the shortage continues to plague the entire car industry.
  • India permanently banned TikTok and WeChat, saying that privacy and security assurances from the developers weren't adequate.
  • Amazon's fight with Future Group turned ugly: It reportedly filed a petition to have Kishore Biyani thrown in jail. Amazon is angry that Future is selling its retail operations to Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries.

One More Thing

RT thirst is never a good look

Do I know exactly what time I should tweet in order to get the most likes? Or when to quote-tweet when I should RT just to get some more notifications? Of course I do. But here's a line you maybe don't want to cross: emailing a bunch of colleagues begging for retweets. That's what Caleb Smith, Kevin McCarthy's digital communications director, did in an email with the subject line "{GOP-New-Media} Retweet Request." (So far, the tweet has about 5x more replies than retweets, which is never what you want.) Just saying: social thirst is part of life, but maybe don't leave a paper trail.

A MESSAGE FROM NASDAQ

Nasdaq

From commerce to content and from Big Tech to Big Government, leading technology analyst Benedict Evans has a knack for seeing the future. At this event, he'll debut and discuss his 2021 trends and predictions for a tech industry — and a world — in the middle of huge change. Join us for this event tomorrow, Jan. 27 at 11 a.m. ET.

RSVP today.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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