The ‘Roaring Kitty’ Rally: How a Reddit User and His Friends Roiled the Markets

“Your example has literally changed the lives of thousands of ordinary normal people,” a Reddit user named reality_czech wrote this week to Mr. Gill. “Seriously thank you.”

Larry Tabb, the head of market structure research at Bloomberg Intelligence, said the rise of traders like Mr. Gill “would have been impossible even a few years ago” because every trade came with a fee and there was less focus on the markets on social media. But with people now stuck at home in the pandemic with easy access to free trading at online brokerages, “these guys saw an opportunity and they took it,” he said.

Mr. Gill did not respond to requests for comment. His online accounts and email addresses were tied to his old office in New Hampshire and his Massachusetts home. Mr. Gill’s mother, Elaine, confirmed in a brief phone call that her son was Roaring Kitty.

“I’m proud,” she said, before hanging up.

Mr. Gill’s life as Roaring Kitty began in 2014 when he started a limited liability company with that name. Before that, he was an All American runner in college who could cover a mile in 4 minutes 3 seconds, according to local newspapers. After graduating, he worked as a chartered financial accountant and a financial wellness educator, a recently deleted LinkedIn profile showed.

In August 2019, he began posting on Reddit. Like many other Reddit users, he showed familiarity with memes and internet expressions like YOLO (you only live once) and exhibited a love for profanity. The middle letter of the acronym of his Reddit username, DFV, refers to an expletive. On YouTube, TikTok and Twitter, he went by Roaring Kitty.

Mr. Gill’s first posts on WallStreetBets showed the screenshot of his E-Trade portfolio with the options trades he had made on GameStop, all of them betting the stock would go up. In the comments, he explained that Wall Street did not appreciate how much GameStop would benefit as new video game consoles were released.

Shortly after Mr. Gill placed his trades, Michael Burry, an investor made famous by the Michael Lewis book “The Big Short,” also expressed interest in GameStop. On Reddit, Mr. Gill pointed to Mr. Burry’s post as validation. When others questioned the investment, Mr. Gill held firm.

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