Beyond the Reddit of the Apes
Bloomberg Businessweek|August 09 - 16, 2021 (Double Issue)
Social media is more than bros pushing meme stocks. Smart, fresh voices are out there
By Katie Greifeld

When you think of the places where Internet culture mashes up with finance, you might imagine Reddit boards where bro-ish posters who call themselves “apes” gang up to push shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. to the moon. Or YouTube personalities pumping crypto coins and get-rich-quick schemes. But there’s also a loose circle of posters on Twitter— affectionately known to its denizens as FinTwit—trading real ideas, along with plenty of jokes and esoteric memes, plus links to their Substack newsletters and TikTok skits.

FinTwit isn’t new, but it’s become required reading for anyone who wants to understand a market that’s increasingly influenced by what’s happening on social media. (That’s one reason many journalists, including this writer, spend perhaps a little too much time there.) Many of the posters work in finance, and it’s turning out to be a place where younger voices and women can build huge followings and further their careers.

Lily Francus, a former Ph.D. student turned quantitative researcher at Moody’s Analytics, joined Twitter in January to post intraday market predictions generated by her NOPE model. That stands for the Net Options Price Effect, and it tracks movements related to something called delta hedging. If that’s a head-scratcher to you, don’t worry—FinTwit can be a nerdy place.

But Francus’s model was hugely topical, thanks to what was happening over on Reddit. The WallStreetBets crowd was piling into options on stocks such as GameStop Inc., which spurred a bullish feedback loop of sorts. NOPE helped explain what was going on. “More people started taking what I was saying seriously,” Francus says. “ ’Cause you know, when a 25-year-old is like, ‘Yeah, I developed an intraday trading model on the most competitive market in the world,’ most people were like, ‘Yeah, that’s adorable.’ ”

After GameStop, Francus was written up in the Financial Times and interviewed on Bloomberg Television and for the finance podcast Infinite Loops. Francus had earlier been active on Reddit and Discord, but moving to the bird app brought a whole new audience. “It was really encouraging in both good and bad ways,” she says of her Twitter experience. “You’re perpetually surrounded by this environment where not only do people have a lot more experience than you, but if you post something, you pretty much get immediate feedback if you were right or wrong.”

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