CEOs learn to meme to keep stocks up
The Future. The CEOs of GameStop, AMC, and Tesla are leveraging public forums like Twitter and Reddit to boost their stock to record prices, sometimes from the brink of bankruptcy. Corporations are learning that the language of the internet is a mix of inside jokes, parody, and pop-culture postmodernism… but a wrong move could sink a company just as quickly as they were saved. Just like stocks, the internet is fickle.
Chief Meme Officer
As retail investors like Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets community drive stock value, CEOs of once hard-hit companies are tailoring communications specifically to them… and have been minted as “memelords.”
- GameStop’s Ryan Cohen: known online as “Papa Cohen,” Cohen is famous for his cryptic Tweets, such as a McDonald’s ice cream cone with a frog emoji for the caption, that get picked apart on Reddit. The company’s stock is up almost 1000% this year.
- AMC’s Adam Aron: known as “The Silverback,” since his memes are addressed to traders who call themselves “apes.” Aron said that his new goal is to have “an active dialogue” with new owners after AMC was saved from bankruptcy earlier this year with a 1,800% stock pop.
- Tesla’s Elon Musk: known as “Daddy Elon,” the billionaire has put the spotlight on everything from Pinterest to Signal to Bitcoin (sometimes to the anger of the SEC). The “cult of Elon” has turned Tesla into the biggest car company in the world, with a market cap of $700 billion.
It takes two to tweet
2021’s corporate memlords are the newest iteration of C-suite celebrities, following the legacy of Apple’s Steve Jobs and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet. What makes this new batch different, however, is the degree to which the everyday consumer has not just access, but a voice.
Digital trading apps like Robinhood and Public have made stock-trading simpler than ever, while Twitter and Reddit have provided platforms for people to form communities and work in tandem to move markets. It’s financial democracy in action.
By keeping a pulse on these forums, Cohen, Aron, and Musk have learned to cater to (cough, manipulate?) those online communities. It’s the biggest test of a company truly being “public.”