Hackernoon logoMemestocks for the Masses & the Redistribution of Wall Street Wealth by@akasha

Memestocks for the Masses & the Redistribution of Wall Street Wealth

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Akasha Rose Hacker Noon profile picture

@akashaAkasha Rose

Decentralization & innovation maximalist. Slogging community manager. Virtual CMO.

"Apes Together Strong" is a popular saying in Reddit's WallStreetBets forum, a subreddit with nearly 11 million users. It's where every day people discuss aping into stock and option trading, and its collective community was the force behind the revitalization of the GameStop GME stocks despite the hedge fund squeeze.

In case you've been living in a cave, on January 22, 202 users of r/wallstreetbets initiated a short squeeze on GameStop after a comment from Citron Research predicting the value of the stock would decrease. The stock price flew more than 600% by January 26. The response by trading platform Robinhood was to restrict trading GME on January 28.
The Mulligan Brothers join us in this AMA to talk about their documentary "Apes Together Strong".

This Slogging thread by Akasha Rose, Mulligan Brothers, Justin Roberti, Limarc Ambalina, Katarina Andrejević and David Smooke occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.

Meet the Mulligan Brothers, Portland-based brothers Finley and Quinn Mulligan who are both active among the WSB Reddit community and have worked together on multiple film and music projects.

Finley has spent most of his career working for Laika Studios, the award-winning stop-motion animation studio, as Assistant Director on such films as the BAFTA award winner Kubo and the Two Strings and the Golden Globe winner Missing Link.

Quinn is a highly acclaimed singer-songwriter who first gained attention while playing with his band Fanno Creek. He has since recorded extensively as a solo artist. Producing for Inner Station is Andrew Weiner (Mail
Order Wife, The Take, Hit & Run, and The Frankenstein Theory).

Finley says, “People like to claim that this has all been the work of a greedy band of internet trolls trying to game the system. But that’s simply not the case. These are normal, everyday people who wisely saw an opportunity of a lifetime to make money and they took it — only to be robbed by their own brokers. How the “Apes” are being portrayed as the bad guys in this story is beyond me, and we’re determined to set the record straight.”
Watch the moving promo to the documentary here:

Mulligan BrothersJul 8, 2021, 8:53 PM

Akasha Rose Thanks for having us! Hi everyone, stoked to be here — this platform is really unique and we’re excited to interact with you all!

Justin RobertiJul 8, 2021, 9:41 PM

Mulligan Brothers welcome! i watched your trailer and it is moving.

a few questions to start:

  • Are there more clips posted beyond the trailer? Are you sharing any more of the interviews leading up to the release?
  • I gathered from interviewing you both, that you were already involved in the WallStreetBets Reddit community before the GameStop movement -- how did it start? When did you realize this wasn't just "a thing"?
  • It seems like one of the more surprising elements (for me at least) is that this movement wasn't just about the lolz as one might expect -- this seems to be about people taking back control. What surprised you most as you did the interview?
  • What stories moved you the most? If possible please mark which brother is answering for that one..
Mulligan BrothersJul 8, 2021, 10:20 PM

Justin Roberti Thanks for the kind words and for the questions!

  • Yes we’ve got one more video, this was made when we announced our project on reddit, you can see the thread https://www.reddit.com/r/GME/comments/mgoo4a/update_question_who_wants_a_real_documentary/ (some interesting comments in there) — A lot has changed since making that video and the project will continue to evolve though it captures the initial motives in making this film
  • We’ve been on reddit for years now, and I (Finley) have been lurking on r/wallstreetbets for some time — mostly for the memes and the loss porn — when people post extreme losses— ’tis a silly place full of crass humor, reckless abandon and if you know where to look some really great insight on how the market works. It was December when I really started to pay attention to the saga with u/deepfuckingvalue and as GME took off I called my brother up and said we need to jump into this. What’s interesting is I didn’t really understand the dynamics of a short squeeze, that is until I read a few well written (and hilarious) meme posts that explained the issues in a digestible way and once it did click, we realized that this was an insane and rare opportunity. The role memes have played in this is fascinating. Anyway. We jumped in. When Robinhood and other brokerages like it halted the buying (but not the selling) of stocks like GME and AMC we realized that not only was this not just “a thing” but it was a story that needed to be told — so we decided to start the film.
  • While the lolz certainly are an ongoing part of this and continue to make very complicated financial mechanisms digestible, this is also a moment where we suddenly have millions around the world interacting with our markets for the first time; rather than give their money to a mutual fund or a 401k they’re learning how to interact with the markets for themselves. And they’re not stopping there — they’re educating each other. They’re sharing research. These people are digging DEEP to shed some light on the darker areas of how our markets function. And the more they do, the clearer it becomes just how disadvantaged retail truly is.
  • Quinn: What moved me the most, and I suppose you could also say this is what surprised me the most (so far) are the reasons that we’ve heard for why people got into this. If you listen to the mainstream media, you’d think that these folks would say they’re “IN IT TO F*** HEDGIES” or “BUY SOME LAMBOS!” While both would be fun, the most common answer we’ve heard is “I don’t want to worry about tomorrow” or “I want to help my mom”, “I don’t want to have to live paycheck to paycheck”. These are people who are in such tight positions that they felt their only hope for financial freedom (in the richest economies of the world) was to jump on a volatile rocket and ride that thing to the moon.
  • Finley: It’s not one story in particular that’s grabbed me. The pandemic left us in a situation where millions of people, who normally don’t have the luxury of slowing down, took a step back from the grind. This volatile rocket came along and captivated the masses who had watched the ultra-wealthy gain trillions off their sick, unemployed, and isolated backs. When they were robbed in January, I think it was the last straw. Apes are learning, educating one another, and they’re not leaving until they’ve made real and lasting change. It’s a beautiful thing.
Justin RobertiJul 8, 2021, 11:05 PM

Mulligan Brothers how open was the community to the documentary when it first came out? Did you run into a lot of distrust? It strikes me that you are speaking to people at the epicentre of a general storm of distrust for traditional finance and government, in some ways for mainstream culture in general perhaps? How did you earn their trust? These aren't generally people looking for attention -- are they looking for a dialogue w the mainstream? Or just to have an accurate record?

Justin RobertiJul 8, 2021, 11:06 PM

Mulligan Brothers bonus question: Did you catch the traditional fund representatives in the dark grey suits the day that GameStop jumped and how ready they were to suggest that the redditors had been at minimum inappropriate leaning on nearly criminal? (as they immediately suggested this activity needed to be regulated out of existence). Were you surprised at the response? Was the community?

Mulligan BrothersJul 8, 2021, 11:19 PM

Justin Roberti To be clear the doc is not out, we’re just about to wrap up pre-production and hit the road. When I first posted about the idea for making the film I brought it up to the community on reddit — you can see that post https://www.reddit.com/r/GME/comments/m7bfzb/question_who_wants_a_real_documentary_about_whats/ — My idea was to ask the community if this is a project that they wanted. A truthful telling of what’s happening with the Apes as the mainstream media has done a woeful job thus far. There was some distrust but I think by asking the community if they want the project and then relying on the “Apes” to tell us what they’d like us to focus on did and continues to keep us in good standing.

Trust has to be earned and the MSM has done nothing to earn the trust of these communities. The fact that we’re actually “Apes”, that we know the story, the culture, the humor and of course the people involved goes a long way. We’re not outsiders poking our head in, we’re hanging in the trees, swinging on vines, eating bananas on TV — we’re Apes.

“It strikes me that you are speaking to people at the epicentre of a general storm of distrust for traditional finance and government” Yes, Absolutely. 2008 hasn’t been forgotten. The fact that our wealthiest people gained trillions during the pandemic while the rest of us suffered in isolation isn’t lost on any of us. I don’t think there is a distrust in mainstream culture, they are the mainstream — and this is very important, these aren’t some clicky groups of counter-culture trolls — these are everyday people from varied and diverse walks of life. Gas station attendants, teachers, grocery store workers, construction workers, it runs the gamut.

We should make a point to say here that we don’t speak for anyone. There are no “leaders” in this, there are as many opinions as there are people and everyone encourages each other to do their own research and make their own decisions.

Justin RobertiJul 8, 2021, 11:25 PM

I mispoke - I meant to say when you first introduced the idea -- but what is your projected launch date Mulligan Brothers

Mulligan BrothersJul 8, 2021, 11:38 PM

Justin Roberti As for the bonus question: I would ask those “grey suits” what’s wrong with buying and holding a stock? What’s wrong with telling others about a stock you like? I’ll quote Gary Gensler: “…we all have a free speech right to go and say to a neighbour, whether it’s online or in-person, I like this investment”

These reddit/Ape investors saw an opportunity to make a potentially lucrative play in the stock market by simply buying and holding stocks in companies they believe in. It just so happens that certain financial institutions exposed themselves to MASSIVE loss which could have ripple effects over the whole market. Retail investors did not create this situation.

Nobody was surprised at this reaction. Powerful people are traditionally very sore losers and tend to change the rules to avoid losing. These people are powerful enough to manipulate outcomes and manipulate just how that narrative is spun.

Another quick disclaimer, when we’re answering questions about the “community” it’s from our personal perspectives having been a part of all of this — these are many people with differing points of view; the one place these people are aligned is in wanting transparency and fairness in our markets.

Limarc AmbalinaJul 9, 2021, 3:21 AM

Thanks for being here! Happy to have you on Slogging with us.

I have a few questions. "only to be robbed by their own brokers." - Can you elaborate a bit on how the brokers were robbing people who didn't actually do anything wrong?

Do you think what happened with GME will happen again? And if so, do you think it'll cause a shift in the way the stock market works? Perhaps the Warren Buffets of the world aren't happy that the tiny retail investors are taking a bigger piece of their pie now.

Limarc AmbalinaJul 9, 2021, 3:23 AM

Also, I'm super interested in documentary filmmaking. What are some challenges you've faced trying to pull this off amidst the pandemic? How have you been handling the filming of all these apes? IS it all being done online via video call?

Mulligan BrothersJul 9, 2021, 3:50 PM

Limarc Ambalina Enjoying it so far! About the brokers, we were speaking specifically to the January event in which Robin hood and brokerages like it halted the buying, but not the selling of several so called "memestocks" (not a fan of this moniker btw) From CNBC: "Robin Robinhood faces dozens of putative class-action lawsuits and is under investigation by regulators, state attorneys general, the SEC, FINRA, and the U.S. Department of Justice following the Game Stop trading frenzy in January." On top of that the https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/01/feds-seized-robinhood-ceos-phone-as-part-of-gamestop-trading-probe.html as part of an ongoing investigation.

No, we don't think a situation like this will happen again. We hope and believe that the Apes will push the SEC and other regulatory bodies to create legislation with real teeth to address the issues surrounding naked short selling and failure to delivers. There are people like Dr. Suzanne Trimbath and Wes Christian, and Carl Hagberg who have been reporting on and pushing for change in this arena for decades — it's pretty fascinating to see millions of normal, everyday retail investors stand up for change in such specific and niche areas in our markets. We think this focused attention around short selling will be far more effective than simply "wall street bad"

Furthermore, whatever comes of this the consequences for breaking regulations in our financial systems must be greater than the profit for massive financial institutions. Robinhood was just given the https://www.finra.org/media-center/newsreleases/2021/finra-orders-record-financial-penalties-against-robinhood-financial at 70million (57mil fine and 12.6 in restitution) — to put that into perspective RH made https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/03/robinhood-made-331-million-from-clients-trading-activity-in-q1-2021.html in the first quarter of 2021 alone. So. The largest fine in Finra history barely makes a dent in quarterly earnings. Breaking laws and harming millions of retail investors over years and years cannot be a simple line item. Give https://www.reddit.com/r/GME/comments/m4c0p4/citadel_has_no_clothes/ a read. It's a post by a reddit "DD Writer" u/atobitt (Austin Tobitt)

We think someone like Buffett would be happy to hear that millions of new retail investors are buying and holding stock long term. He's the ultimate "HODLER"

Luckily as the pandemic is winding down (please please please) we are starting to nail down our subjects and head out with a crew. Up until this point it's been zoom call after zoom call and we've opened a submissions page https://www.apestogetherstrongdoc.com/submissions for Apes to submit videos telling us why they've bought into the market and what they intend to do when they get their "Tendies."

So far, hearing their stories has been remarkable. This is a diverse group of people. The media gets this all wrong when they rely on easy catch-alls like "reddit investors" or " Wallstreet bets" — we encourage journalists to check out communities like r/superstonk (the mods won't talk to media btw) but sign in, see how people interact with each other, get a feel for what's happening. Apes want change, and they aren't going anywhere until they get it. Wealth concentration today has passed that of the gilded age... this didn't happen naturally.

Justin RobertiJul 9, 2021, 11:49 PM

Mulligan Brothers is crypto from your POV any more of an even playing field than traditional finance now that institutional investors are involved and billionaires like Musk can openly move the market on SM? Are there any alt coins you are rooting for? taking doge to the moon?

Mulligan BrothersJul 9, 2021, 11:55 PM

We aren't experts in crypto and can't answer that question. We both have some crypto in a small amount, more for entertainment than anything.

Akasha RoseJul 10, 2021, 5:59 AM

Hi Quinn and Finley, how do you think that the average person can achieve financial freedom and freedom from wage slavery? Is it something a person can achieve alone, or must we all work together, and how? Will the world ever be free of wage slavery and if so what does that world look like?

Mulligan BrothersJul 10, 2021, 4:58 PM

Hey Akasha, lots to unpack there but I'd say by and large, we need to prioritize financial literacy education in our young people. We hope that moving forward, the millions of "Apes" out there will be continuing their education and journey to financial freedom and passing what they've learned onto future generations — that aside, we need regulation with teeth and an economy that works for everyone. Making this happen will take years, no doubt, and will require the revolving door between regulatory bodies and the private sector to be shut. Furthermore, we need to get money out of our politics but this is a much larger conversation than we'll be exploring in our film.

This can be achieved alone on an anecdotal basis — the issue is that many of the people who have time to learn enough to achieve this on their own (or whose parents have time to teach them) are in a socio-economic position to do so.; thus usually reserving playing the market for middle to upper-class white folks. This "paradigm shift" that we're going through is introducing so many new traders to the market and we're hoping this will begin to level the playing field. When we say "work together" we mean fighting for transparency and fairness in our markets. No, the world will never be free of wage slavery, this is cyclical and once this situation boils over, pressure will build again at some point; that doesn't mean we shouldn't fight like hell to minimize the wealth divide that we see today.

Limarc AmbalinaJul 10, 2021, 6:30 AM

"About the brokers, we were speaking specifically to the January event in which Robin hood and brokerages like it halted the buying, but not the selling of several so-called "memestocks" (not a fan of this moniker btw) From CNBC: "Robin Robinhood faces dozens of putative class-action lawsuits and is under investigation by regulators, state attorneys general, the SEC, FINRA, and the U.S. Department of Justice following the Game Stop trading frenzy in January." On top of that, the Feds have seized Vlad Tenev's phone as part of an ongoing investigation."

- Got it. In your research have you found that Robin Hood and other brokerages broke the law when they halted the buying and not the selling or is that, unfortunately, within their rights to do?

I'm interested to see where things turn out.

Limarc AmbalinaJul 10, 2021, 6:34 AM

Also, what was your thought process behind funding this documentary via a kickstarter?

With your work on Kubo and the Two Strings and your filmography, I assume that you could have sought funding from more traditional methods in the industry.

Was this in an effort to make sure that you could remain unbiased in your portrayal of the story and not have to answer to any one producer or company?

Mulligan BrothersJul 10, 2021, 5:11 PM

Limarc Ambalina We're also interested in seeing how things turn out. We'll be watching closely to see what our regulators decide regarding the legality of their actions. We'll be exploring this in the doc.

  • We decided to fund this documentary via crowdfunding ourselves at http://apestogetherstrongdoc.com/donate as we wanted to have as much of our donated dollars go to the fil as possible. Also, by crowdfunding we're not beholden to outside interests dictating our agenda. We're truly independent and able to say what we want, how we want. We do have private investors as well but we've been very careful in who we've decided to work with — the truth and transparency is our only goal and greatest asset.
Katarina AndrejevićJul 10, 2021, 10:08 AM

Hi there, Mulligan Brothers! First of all: WHOA! The project, the logistics behind, everything is just :pinched_fingers:

I was wondering, out of all the supporters, has anyone claimed the Executive Producer or Producer Credit reward yet?

Mulligan BrothersJul 10, 2021, 5:13 PM

Katarina Andrejević Hello! It's been a wild ride so far. We have had a couple of parties interested in that level that we're in talks with, though some have come close.

David SmookeJul 10, 2021, 3:46 PM

Hey Mulligan Brothers, thanks a lot for making this documentary, and taking the time to answer a couple of questions here. The trailer is inspiring --- retail investors uniting to change the game. It makes a lot more sense for you all to tell this story than the Netflixes of the internet. From https://www.investopedia.com/wallstreetbets-slang-and-memes-5111311: If the “apes” are united, then they can be strong enough to outlast those short on the stock. I'm wondering, logistically how do such large communities unite on selling and purchasing decisions and timing? And as self-described apes, what was your biggest personal win investing with the apes?

Mulligan BrothersJul 10, 2021, 5:29 PM

David Smooke This is a falsehood the mainstream media has promoted. Retail investors or "Apes" are not coordinating purchasing decisions or timings. This practice is illegal and frowned upon. We've been on the ground with these people from the beginning and we've not seen a single whiff of this kind of behavior. Anyone reporting on this matter should join these communities themselves and see what the conversation is like. You'll see these people are by and large responsible, make their own financial decisions based on their own research, and any talk of coordination is immediately slammed down, and blocked. You hit the nail on the head asking how it would be logistically possible. It's just not. This is a diverse group of people with diverse opinions and financial needs and appetites.

When the Apes see reports of this on the media, then look around themselves and see nothing of the sort, they lose faith in the media and question the motives behind such stories. This is much of why we created the doc in the first place — we want the truth out there and want to make sure the Apes have a chance to tell the narrative like it is. Much of the journalism around this topic has been irresponsible, grossly under-researched, and dangerous to the health of our financial markets, specifically regarding the rights of retail investors. By not focusing on the wreckless and predatory practices from our largest financial institutions (many of which lead to the crash in '08) and instead falsely accusing retail investors of illegal activity, the media is actively eroding the trust in our financial markets in exchange for ratings and clicks. Without trust, the house of cards collapses — quick disclaimer: there are amazing journalists out there doing incredible work and we're not saying you're part of this group to be clear..

This is why reddit communities, youtube channels, twitter etc. have exploded. People are tired of being lied to and are yearning for safe places to exchange ideas, like r/superstonk, without fear of a conglomerate with an agenda behind each news story.

🔥 2
Justin RobertiJul 11, 2021, 4:52 AM

Mulligan Brothers do you consider yourselves part of a transgressive subculture? we live in a capitalist society that functions almost solely on profit incentives -- speaking out against the very wealthy is in itself transgressive.

Mulligan BrothersJul 11, 2021, 2:38 PM

It's unfortunate that it's considered transgressive to have motives other than the creation of wealth at abstract levels. I don't think this is a subculture, however; these "Apes" have been painted as a niche group of people on the internet, but they are a diverse group of everyday people numbering in the millions who are demanding fairness and transparency in our markets and our economy. We think the cat's out of the bag on this one and that the days of the Ape investor are just getting started.

Akasha RoseJul 11, 2021, 6:35 AM

I also am keen to know which of the people that you interviewed for the documentary left a lasting impression on you and why 😄

Mulligan BrothersJul 11, 2021, 2:39 PM

So many have left lasting impressions on us so far and we're only beginning production in earnest — truly incredible stories we'll be telling.

Mulligan BrothersJul 11, 2021, 2:41 PM

Okay everyone, Akasha Rose thank you SO MUCH for having us on this AMA. We had a great time answering all of your questions.
Social:

  • twitter: @apestogetherdoc
Mulligan BrothersJul 11, 2021, 2:41 PM

We are crowdfunding to please check out our website here: http://apestogetherstrongdoc.com/donate — we appreciate all the help and support we can get!

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