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Reddit’s ‘meme stock’ crowd is launching a Super PAC

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The WallStreetBets crowd is angling to get into the political game. 

A pair of part-time stock traders has launched a Super PAC to “amplify the voice of the retail investor” as the rise of Reddit-fueled “meme stocks” like GameStop has rattled big hedge funds and caught the attention of regulators and politicians in Washington.

The new political action committee, registered with the Federal Election Commission under the name “WeLikeTheStock.wtf,” is aimed at giving Regular Joe investors the kind of political bullhorn that is usually reserved for the Wall Street giants.

“The goal is to be irreverent but honest,” said 34-year-old Chad Minnis, who filed the paperwork for the Super PAC last month with fellow day trader Christian Freed. “It lets us break away from what the mainstream media says we are and say who we really are.”

According to Minnis, WeLikeTheStock’s first goal is to raise enough money to purchase a full-page ad in The New York Times to debunk hostile media coverage of retail traders that have used Reddit and the Robinhood trading app to pump stocks at the expense of big hedge funds long accustomed to controlling the market.

“They’ve described us as a collective group of degenerates who are ruining things,” Minnis said. “But we have already disrupted the markets by becoming the first decentralized hedge fund.”

The Super PAC — which under FEC rules is authorized to raise funds for political candidates it believes will help its populist crusade against the Wall Street establishment — will follow a crowdfunding model that seeks funds from thousands of small investors.

“I want to do the opposite of a SuperPAC,” Minnis said. “Instead of having a few rich people that fund most of it, I want a bunch of real people giving a little to make it happen.”

While the idea to start the PAC came out of a growing interest in online trading and the WallStreetBets Reddit forum, Minnis said his biggest inspiration was TV host Stephen Colbert, who launched his own real Super PAC, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” as a parody of Super PACs.

“WeLikeTheStock,” meanwhile, gets its name from a WallStreetBets rallying cry for its favorite meme stocks, which in addition to GameStop have included AMC Entertainment, Nokia and Blackberry.

When the Reddit Rally’s unofficial patron saint Keith Gill, a day trader also known as “Roaring Kitty,” was hauled before Congress on Feb. 18 and pressed on why he continued to promote GameStop shares, he responded, “I still like the stock,” sending acolytes into frothy glee.

Gill appears to be a spiritual mentor to the new organization. According to the filing, Minnis and Freed gave the Federal Election Commission their “Statement of Organization” for the PAC on the same day as Gill’s testimony.

Looking ahead, Minnis said he hopes the PAC can capitalize on the still-simmering anger at hedge funds that have bounced back after the short squeeze, helped along by what he and his crew see as a rigged game.

“There was a post on the forum recently that asked, ‘Would you be willing to tape a few dollars to a rock and throw it at these hedge funds that started this whole thing by shorting stocks into oblivion?’” he said. “We think a lot of people are going to answer ‘Yes.’”

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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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