It seems almost laughable to think that, only two or three years ago, when the general public thought of GameStop, the first things that would have popped into mind would be the sale of pre-owned video games, countless strip mall locations, and a murky-at-best financial future. This perception quickly began to change around the 2020 holiday season as the price of GameStop (GME) stock began to grow increasingly volatile for reasons that the general public presumably gave little thought to.
Fast forward to the present and the war between capital management firms and retail investors wages on. It has been the topic of conversation on 24-hour cable news, within the pages of the Wall Street Journal, and just about any social media platform where folks who invest opt to converse. One man, Keith Gill, was a broker who took a long position on GME in the earliest days of this journey and rose to become the unofficial face of the retail investor versus the Wall Street fat cats. Who exactly is Keith Gill and how did he become one of the prominent figureheads in this whole GME story?
Who is GameStop (GME) investor Keith Gill?
In the earliest days of the GME saga, the online community rallied around Keith Gill, a licensed securities broker who rose to prominence following Gill’s submission of a trade receipt showing a $50K+ long position in GameStop. This was counter to the behavior of some Wall Street firms which had been aggressively shorting GME stock for a while. As other retail investors followed Gill’s lead, the stock price fluctuated wildly, causing losses for institutions with short positions while the stock was being squeezed.
Gill quickly gained a following on the WallStreetBets subreddit, where he goes by the username u/DeepFuckingValue, after his position disclosure. He also regularly posted information relating to GME on both his Youtube channel and Twitter account (where he goes by @TheRoaringKitty). Gill argued in his posts and videos that GME stock was being undervalued by financial analysts’ consensus. While he also explained to viewers that he was not providing professional investment advice, his influence had a major impact on attracting additional retail investors to long positions on the stock.
Because Gill’s initial investment in 2019 for roughly $50k of GME stock was when it was trading around the $5 mark, the meteoric rise in share pricing in January 2021 saw Gill’s portfolio value balloon and contract in massive swings. By the end of January 2020, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that Gill’s accounts held as much as $33 million in value.
Naturally, the large amounts of money changing hands drew the attention of lawmakers. In early February 2021, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin requested that Gill’s former employer MassMutual investigate if he had broken any rules or laws relating to his online presence and discussion of GME stock. Gill was called to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee on February 18, 2021. During the testimony, Gill further endeared himself to his online following when he explained his investment and information sharing was a result of “liking the stock.”
Later in September 2021, Gill’s former employer MassMutual was fined $4.75 million for its failure to properly supervise its agent. The next month, the Securities and Exchange Commission released a report that concluded there was no indication that Gill had committed market manipulation by sharing his positions and information online.
The story on Gill becomes a bit hazier in the aftermath of the initial early-2021 GME stock situation. On April 16, 2021, Gill posted his GME YOLO update - Apr 16 2021 - final update. These updates were a common method for Gill to update members of the subreddit on his GME position. Gill has not posted to Reddit as DeepFuckingValue, or even left a comment from that account, since. The last activity on Gill's Twitter account was in June of last year and was, predictably, just a gif of young kittens. A piece published by Reuters in February of this year noted that Gill has seemingly dropped off the grid since the middle of last year.
Keith Gill is certainly an interesting character, as evidenced by his online following and his public appearances in front of Congress. He serves as an inspiration to some and a thorn in the side of others. While he may not be as big of an influence on the future of GME stock as he was more than a year ago, it is impossible to tell this story of investment in 2021 without mentioning Keith Gill.