Ken Griffin may not yet be over being told about the #KenGriffinLied meme on social media.
During a Wednesday morning interview at the Dealbook Online Summit, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Citadel LLC and market maker Citadel Securities lashed out at his legion of retail investor haters on social media who continue to believe that he played a key role in the abrupt end of January’s chaotic short squeeze on meme stocks like GameStop
When pressed on the notion that Griffin is sitting in the middle of the meme stock movement, and that many retail investors believe his role as ubiquitous market maker buying order flow from Robinhood
and other zero-commission trading platforms while also running a massive hedge fund, creates a situation in which he wields too much power, Griffin pushed back.
“Most of the people I deal with love the fact that, as a retail investor, you trade instantaneously and you get a better price on exchange,” Griffin said, defending the controversial practice of payment for order flow.
But while many retail traders now want that practice looked at by the SEC and other regulators, their real problem with Griffin stems from the fact that they see him as an almost Rasputin-like figure in Robinhood’s move to restrict trading on GameStop shares on Jan. 28.
Because Citadel Securities uses payment for order flow to pay for the privilege of executing more than half of Robinhood’s trades it is a key source of the app’s revenue, and the importance of that relationship has fed conspiracy theories that Citadel Securities executives leaned on Robinhood to end the short squeeze by restricting users from buying meme stocks.
Citadel LLC’s $2.75 billion investment in/bailout of Melvin Capital, the hedge fund run by retail investor target Gabe Plotkin, fanned the flames of those theories, as did an amended lawsuit filed in Florida on Sept. 21 on behalf of a group of retail investors that claimed to show evidence that Robinhood executives were talking to their counterparts at Citadel Securities one day before the restrictions were announced.
An SEC investigation into the GameStop short squeeze found no evidence of collusion, something Griffin and his team have celebrated publicly.
On Wednesday, Griffin opined on his experience at the center of the storm.
“The whole GameStop conspiracy theory, I mean that’s come and gone,” said Griffin, revealing that he does not spend much time on Reddit. “It was fascinating to be in the center of that conspiracy.”
Asked what it felt like, Griffin dug in on both his detractors and a certain New York-based TV show.
“It was like a bad comedy joke,” Griffin replied. “It was like a Saturday Night Live sketch the whole time.”
But apparently Griffin has not had a front row seat to the conspiracy. He stated Wednesday that he does not have a Twitter account and that “people just come down and tell me what’s going on.”
Those people will have been busy Wednesday afternoon as retail investors on social media pilloried Griffin’s appearance, a predictable outcome as inviting Ken Griffin to talk about meme stocks is, to many, tantamount to asking Kanye West his thoughts on the Kardashians.
“Ken Griffin lied (again)” read the title of a popular post on subreddit r/AMCStock Wednesday afternoon.
On Twitter, the takes were more visual:
Despite multiple threads on social media pledging to use Griffin’s comments as more fodder for their favorite stocks, both GameStop and AMC Entertainment
were down more than 4% Wednesday afternoon.
Griffin also made news with his growing concerns about inflation, his advice to the White House that fiscal stimulus has gone too far, his continuing skepticism towards cryptocurrency, and a new pledge to spend part of his fortune to defeat Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, with whom he publicly clashed over what Griffin sees as the political destruction of his hometown, Chicago.