US Representative Maxine Waters, the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, wants to know more about the explosive GameStop bubble (opens in new tab) that occupied so much of our attention over the past couple of weeks. To make that happen, she's invited some of the central characters in the real-life drama, including Robinhood founder and CEO Vladimir Tenev and high-profile Reddit investor Keith "DeepFuckingValue" Gill, to testify before Congress.
"This hearing is going to be educational. It's going to be a learning experience for everybody," Waters said in an interview with Cheddar (opens in new tab). "We are going to have all the players—we will have Robinhood [CEO] Vladimir Tenev, I think is his name, we'll have him there. We'll have a young man there from Reddit, his name is Keith Gill, who basically started this mania."
It sounds like the testimony will be focused at least in part on the role that Robinhood, a trading app for individual investors, played in the whole thing. The app is popular with users of the WallStreetBets subreddit (opens in new tab) that helped push GameStop's price to a high of $483 last week (after starting the year at under $20), but it sparked furor on January 28 when it imposed limits on purchases of GameStop shares (opens in new tab). Some users speculated that it was attempting to force GameStop's price down at the behest of its hedge fund investors, although it said in a later blog post that the restrictions were necessary in order to remain in compliance with SEC regulations.
"We understand what's being said about Robinhood and why it did what it did in terms of limiting the buying," Waters continued. "We understand that the hedge funds have lost a lot of money. We understand that the shorting is a big issue, and a big conversation. But what a lot of people didn't know about is the short squeeze, and so we're going to learn an awful lot."
From the Reddit perspective, though, Gill is the big pony in this show. He's a chartered financial analyst, formerly employed at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, who posts on WallStreetBets and his own subreddit (opens in new tab) as DeepFuckingValue and also has a YouTube channel dedicated to tracking stocks and investment research called Roaring Kitty (opens in new tab).
He's also widely credited with sparking the run on GameStop: A January Reuters (opens in new tab) report that revealed his true identity said he "helped attract a flood of retail cash into GameStop, burning hedge funds who had bet against the company and roiling the broader market."
Later in the Cheddar interview, Waters said that Gill has not actually committed to appearing before Congress at this point. "I have him on my list to be present. I have him on my list," she said. "They have not confirmed all of my list yet, but I want him."
She also wants someone from GameStop to show up, even though the company at the heart of the whole thing was largely a bystander: "It's interesting to know and understand, when you have businesses who are now disadvantaged because of the digital age, what they do and how they're trying to turn that around, and I understand that they are working on turning it around, and that there is a real possibility that they could be successful at this. So I want them here too."
Some users of the WallStreetBets subreddit are still hanging in with their GameStop shares, but the thrill ride now appears to be well and truly over: After peaking at $483 last week, the stock closed today at $53.50.