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Who is Keith Gill, the "Roaring Kitty" pumping up GameStop shares?

Why are GameStop shares on the rise again?
Why are GameStop shares on the rise again? 05:11

GameStop has recently reprised the stock frenzy that gripped the video game retailer in 2021, when the company's share soared as much as 2,000%. Then, as now, the man driving the original "meme stock" is Keith Gill, an amateur trader whose power to move markets stems from his popularity on social media. 

Read on to learn more about Gill. 

Who is Keith Gill?

Keith Patrick Gill is a financial analyst turned social media influencer who has acquired a massive audience among retail investors. Known on YouTube as "Roaring Kitty" and as "DeepF—Value" on Reddit, he recently rekindled investor interest in GameStop, a money-losing video game chain, with a cryptic post on X that some took as a symbol of his return to the investing world after a three-year hiatus.

The post, an image of a sketched man leaning forward in a chair, was followed by a series of other posts featuring comeback-themed music and movie clips. That was enough to send GameStop shares skyrocketing from $22.91 a share at the end of May to $32.80 on Monday.

Gill's ability to influence GameStop shares may have grown so strong that E*Trade is considering banning him from the trading platform, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Born in Massachusetts in 1986, Gill grew up in Brockton with two siblings, according to a bio posted on the website of Stonehill College, his alma mater. He was a standout track athlete at Stonehill, from which he earned a business degree in 2009. 

In 2021 testimony at a congressional hearing on the meme stock phenomenon, Gill said he is the first member of his immediate family to earn a college degree. He is married with one child.

What is Gill's connection to GameStop?

After a stint working with a startup in New Hampshire, Gill returned to Massachusetts, where he dove into a career in financial services. He became a chartered financial analyst and a licensed securities broker. Those credentials eventually landed him a job at MassMutual in 2019. He left the firm in 2021, Reuters reported.

In 2020, Gill began growing his online influencer presence by, among other things, encouraging people to invest in GameStop, whose shares he had started buying the previous year. His social media platforms of choice: Reddit discussion boards and YouTube, where he posted videos about his take on financial markets and undervalued stocks. As Roaring Kitty, notably, Gill was posting videos at a time when Americans were stuck indoors during the pandemic, leading some to try their hands at investing. 

"I believed the company was dramatically undervalued by the market," Gill said in testifying before the House Financial Services Committee in 2021. "The prevailing analysis about GameStop's impending doom was simply wrong," 

To be sure, Gill earned a lot of money after promoting the purchase of GameStop shares, but he also lost big. In 2021, for example, Gill revealed that he had lost $13 million in a single day from his investments in the game retailer. Gill's move with GameStop eventually became a cornerstone storyline in the 2023 film "Dumb Money," where Gill is portrayed by actor Paul Dano. 

What is the meme-stock craze?

GameStop was one of several struggling companies, including movie theater chain AMC, Bed Bath & Beyond and Blackberry, that retail investors who congregated on the Reddit forum Wallstreetbets embraced during the pandemic. It was these investors who eventually hung a label on these companies — "meme stocks" — while the movement's catch phrase was "to the moon."

In the early days of meme-stock mania, one stated goal of at least some investors was to foil hedge funds and other institutional investors who had had bet against players like GameStop and AMC.

But Gill has denied being motivated by a desire to punish Wall Street. 

"I was aware from public reports that a well-known investor, Michael Burry, was interested in GameStop. Because I thought the stock was undervalued, I purchased call options on June 7, 2019. I increased my position throughout much of 2019 and 2020, because as I continued to analyze the company and its prospects, I became increasingly confident that the share price was indeed dramatically undervalued."

How is GameStop doing as company?

In recent years, GameStop has experienced declining sales amid an industrywide pivot to video game streaming and digital downloads. Before reporting a profit in its most recent quarter, the company had posted seven straight quarterly losses. 

But with the help from meme-stock investors, the company in March 2023 turned its first profit in two years. Before then, it had posted seven straight quarterly losses. Cost-cutting measures also helped the retailer conserve cash and gave it more time to find new ways of driving growth, analysts said at the time. Over the long haul, however, GameStop still faces significant challenges as the the gaming industry shifts.

In March, the company reported $5.2 billion in revenue for the 2023 fiscal year, down from $5.9 billion the year prior. GameStop said in a regulatory filing last month that it sold a new batch of 45 million shares of the company, an amount that will generate about $933.4 million in fresh capital. As of February, GameStop had 4,169 locations, of which 2,915 are in the U.S. GameStop named Chewy founder Ryan Cohen as its new CEO last fall. 

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