Orlando investors see GameStop stock news as only the beginning for

The little guy

Something crazy happened last week.

“The little guy won,” said Winter Park resident David Stephenson, and founder of Monster Trading Systems.

After last week’s explosive Wall Street news surrounding GameStop stock, the market opened up to smalltime investment groups and individual investors in ways never seen before, said the 54-year-old Stephenson.

And that change isn’t just happening online. It’s happening in Orlando, too.

“It’s a win. I think the fact traders are getting together and understanding, collectively they have power even over big hedge fund groups, that’s huge,” he said. “In order to have an advantage these guys on Reddit came together. The biggest message from all of this for the retail trader is, in order to compete we need each other.”

Last week, headlines were dominated by the story of individual investors on the Reddit group r/WallStreetBets who proved through combined diligent research and hilarious memes that big gains could be made by purchasing huge amounts of GameStop and AMC Theaters stock against hedge funds who had bet against them.

People are rooting for wsb because it’s not a big institution, organization, or even a hive mind. It’s a gathering place of millions of unique individuals who are tired of being run over by the big guys and are each fighting back in their own way. 🚀🚀🚀🚀 https://t.co/URj3aA3F6n

— wallstreetbets mod (@wsbmod) January 28, 2021

Individual market players of Orlando saw the way the wind was blowing before GameStop’s value (GME) jumped from $17 at the start of January to $468 last week.

Stephenson, who teaches classes on investments in Winter Park, develops systems to monitor the market and received signals regarding movement from GME and AMC earlier in January.

He sent alerts to his students in Monster Trading Systems about the movement, causing many of them to buy GME stock before it jumped to $80. Stephenson bought in at around that time, and walked when GME hit $375, with about $8,000 in his pocket, he said.

“My son was like, why didn’t you buy when it was $20?” Stephenson said and laughed. “It was an exciting thing that happened, but we (Monster Trading students) are out of GME and AMC. We got the signals. It was time to leave.”

One of those Monster Trading students who entered in on GME was 59-year-old Kem Jackson of Altamonte Springs. Jackson bought 30 call options for $1.50 each, and later had the options expire at $9 each, he said.

Jackson didn’t get rich from the sale, but it was a nice profit. What he found more astonishing was that the news happened at all.

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“You know seeing low value stock from a company with a low earnings report jump in value is not news to me. I could name a half dozen times that’s happened,” said Jackson who’s been investing since 1986. “But what happened last week, individual investors, the little guy ‚beat the hedge funds. That’s never happened. And it shows you that it’s now possible to do because of the communications we have. We have Zoom, cell phones, chat groups. More people are at home, and everyone is taking the information that’s always been out there and banding together. That’s what made this phenomenal.”

And the way Jackson sees it, the genie is out of the bottle. After witnessing hedge funds bleed, individuals know that they can do it again, and that news has excited a lot of people.

The group r/WallStreetBets, which refers to itself “Like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal,” started the year with a little over 1.5 million subscribers, according to a report from Business Insider. At the time of this report, subscribership has jumped to 8.5 million. The group’s rapid accelerated growth caused it to shift from a public page to private.

Similar excitement has been seen spiking around Orlando, too. Stephenson’s investment classes host about 300 students studying courses in currencies, stocks and penny stocks. Monster Trading’s goal is to train people in becoming their own individual trader.

Monster’s motto is “fire your broker.”

Last week amid the GameStop chaos, Stephenson saw interest for classes skyrocket, receiving between 150 to 200 phone calls last week.

“We have a lot of new traders coming in and they’re excited,” Stephenson said.

There appears to be two different kinds of excitement, as noted by experts. One is from folks who want to learn how to play the stock market, and see there’s money to be made if you put in the work, Stephenson said.

The other is from people who want to be part of a joke surrounding a stock, which begins to trend like an online meme, otherwise known as a “meme stock,” said Dr. Matthew Hurst, an associate professor of finance at Stetson University.

Part of r/WallStreetBets’ success came from the excitement it was able to generate using memes and viral jokes, such as “tendies,” which is a reference toward all the chicken tenders an investor stands to buy once they profit from their investment. Jokes surrounding GME and AMC purchases took many memetic forms including a video sea shanty about the group’s fight to beat out hedge funds. Those jokes pushed the value of GME and helped put a lot of “tendies” on plates, specifically those who were able to purchase GME early before it spiked.