Communities : a social tsunami, Gamestop.

What is the difference between 3000 persons and a group of 3000 persons ? Easy answer, 3000 persons is a mass but a group of 3000 persons is an army. Indeed, if 3000 persons want to build a house each, some might make it, some might give up but none would be as fast as a group of 3000 persons doing the same.

It is because a group is organised and gets the best of each individual by dividing the tasks. In this series of blogs I will walk you through three stories showing that the internet abolished the difference between 3000 persons and a group of 3000 persons : Gamestop or the fall of Wall Street, The Pixel War and the Wildest “capture the flag”.

Ep 1: Gamestop or the fall of Wall Street

A – David against Goliat

Gamestop is a company that buys and sells second hand video games. As you can guess, in the age of digital stores, the market for physical second hand video games is getting tinier by the minute. If you know that, someone else does : let me introduce you to the bad guys of our story, the investment management companies. An investment management company is a structure managing other companies and people’s money to make profit. You might know the two biggest : Blackrock and Vanguard. To make profit, they bet on Wall Street stocks. There is multiple ways to make profit on Wall Street but we will focus on one of them : shorting a company.

Basically, it consists of betting a stock will go down and so betting on the company to get worse. But here comes the good guys of our stories : r/wallstreetbets/ and their weapon robinhood1. r/wallstreetbets/ is a subreddit, a subdivision of the famous forum reddit2. This subdivision is dedicated to people who dislike the way wall street work. Usually, companies invest on Wall Street through analysts using complex algorithms to calculate and predict evolution, risks and make 1% gain there and there. For Wall Street Bet, finance should be an adventure, if you don’t go all in, there is no point. Getting rich or bankrupt is their motto. They use Robinhood, an app that allows private individuals to invest without taking fees.

Don’t get me wrong, those guys are crazy (they call themselves degenerates) and they are as cold blooded as the trust funds, when I qualify them as good and bad guys, it is because in this story they go by the rule against the giant capitalists.

B – The war

In 2019, Keith Gill – one of the main active users of r/wallstreetbets/ – is snooping through the markets as usual when he stumbles upon Gamestop, and notices that the company is seriously undervalued. At first people don’t believe him but time after time, gamestop is getting back in shape and developing an online platform. Then COVID strikes.

People are getting bored and poorer. Simultaneously, people find themselves with nothing better than going on the internet and nowhere to spend their money but online. Then r/wallstreetbets/ start to notice Gamestop is hugely shorted. Like 140% shorted. And when I write 140%, it is probably more but 140% is supposed to be the legal limit. They also noticed that trust funds were illegally driving the stocks down.

On the 13th January 2021, the first strike was set : r/wallstreetbets/ starts buying Gamestop actions. Like a lot. Like 144 000 000 shares. The word goes from mouth to ear and more people are buying. Partly to make money, but mostly by hate of the trust funds that were the main responsible for the 2008 crisis. The words get out of reddit and on national television. More and more people are gathering around the slogan : make them pay. Indeed, if the price goes up, trust funds have to buy back the shares anyway and if they don’t they will pay interest for not giving the shares back to the ones they borrowed from.

Then everything goes very fast, Marvin Capital falls, Elon tweets to support r/wallstreetbets/, the USA government steps in to save the funds and then Wall Street itself breaks the rules : on Tuesday the 28th of January 2021, Gamestop shares are blocked for private people and the only option available is to sell.


In the end 100 billions of losses shows that if a particular can’t do much against Goliath, thousands united as one man can take the role of David. And it was only possible thanks to the internet that allows people who never met to get organised. If you wan to know how the story ends, I strongly recommend you watch this video because it is far more extensive than I and it is a thrilling story ! There is also an excellent Netflix series about this story : Eat the Rich: The GameStop Saga !

More sources

As a french erasmus student, I also used french sources. So if you speak french or want to try, I would love to share with you the work of this great french youtuber : What a Fail ! – Effondrer l’économie mondiale sur Reddit.

  1. Robinhood is a financial technology company that provides a mobile app for commission-free stock and cryptocurrency trading. It gained popularity for its user-friendly interface and the ability for users to buy and sell stocks, options, and cryptocurrencies without traditional trading fees. ↩︎
  2. Reddit is a social media platform and online community where users can submit content, such as text posts, links, images, and videos, and engage in discussions. Content is organized into “subreddits,” which are topic-based communities where users can share and discuss content related to specific interests. Other users can then upvote or downvote posts and comments, influencing their visibility. Reddit is known for its diverse range of communities and the ability for users to participate anonymously. ↩︎