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Meme Stocks is a slang term that refers to stocks that see a notable increase in trading volume due to attention and virality on social media rather than a company’s performance, financial position or other more traditional factors. Stocks that make up $BANG, such as Blackberry, AMC, Nokia and GameStop, are among the most well-known examples of meme stocks due to the massive amount of memes and discussions revolved around them online. The term came about during the WallStreetBets GameStop Short Squeeze in early 2021.
While "meme stock" was used colloquially in memes beforehand, on January 26th, 2021, Marker, a subsidiary of Medium, was the first to put the word combination into print during the WallStreetBets GameStop Short Squeeze that began earlier that month. The article written by James Surowiecki talks about how these examples of meme stocks, which include Hertz and Kodak in 2019, share similarities, such as having a failing business model with little hype or new market-moving additions but being heavily discussed and referenced in jokes among online social groups, such as Reddit.
As the GME short squeeze continued trending online into February 2021, mainstream news sources began to cover the story and other meme stocks, with CBS News covering the topic on February 1st, 2021. In the article, Khristopher J. Brooks explicitly named AMC, Nokia, and WallStreetBets in the headline of the piece. Bloomberg Wealth was the next one to mention meme stocks, but this time in a more negative connotation as February 2nd was when GME stock deflated by over 50 percent of its value.
The term and concept of meme stocks continued to spread in early 2021 alongside the GME short squeeze, which was massively viral across multiple platforms at the time. Many people on social media in January that year shared memes discussing GameStop stock, which also added to the term. For example, on January 28th, the meme website ahseeit featured an upload of the Left Exit 12 Off-Ramp meme that used meme stocks as the example of what to do instead of investing in blue-chip stocks (shown below).
On February 26th, 2021, Sir John Hargrave posted on his Medium blog about investing in the new "memeconomy" and provided an infographic on how the process works (shown below).
On June 9th, 2021, Reddit user pettyblake uploaded a screenshot of their Instagram feed, which included a definition and warning for meme stocks that was a sponsored advertisement post by MintApp, a financial application. According to MintApp, meme stocks are overvalued purely based off social media hype and not company potential and suffer from artificial price hikes (shown below).
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