What began as Steve Cohen’s attempt to bail out a struggling hedge fund may have brought a premature ending to his honeymoon as owner of the New York Mets on Thursday as the billionaire investor pleaded with social media critics that he was ‘just trying to make a living.’
‘I’m not feeling the love on this site today,’ Cohen tweeted while being condemned by Mets fans who were upset to see him spending a reported $750 million to help a struggling hedge fund rather than bidding on Major League Baseball free agents.
Cohen, who has regularly engaged fans on Twitter since buying the team in late 2020, is being criticized for partnering with fellow investor Ken Griffin of Citadel to save Melvin Capital, a hedge fund that has taken massive losses in a highly publicized and ultimately doomed attempt to short shares of the video game retail store, GameStop.
Billionaire Mets owner Steve Cohen is being criticized on social media for his perceived meddling in the GameStop fiasco by helping fellow hedge funders withstand major losses
The honeymoon may be over for new Mets boss Steve Cohen, who faced criticism on Thursday
Aside from Mets fans, others have criticized Cohen and other Wall Street insiders for meddling on behalf of a hedge fund rather than individual investors — ostensibly taking the side of Goliath over David. ‘PRISON TIME,’ tweeted Barstool Sports president Dave Portnoy after one retail brokerage website began restricting trades on GameStop shares in a perceived attempt to stop hedge funds short sellers from being squeezed by online investors
Cohen later agreed that Portnoy was raising ‘legitimate questions that deserve answers’ and Portnoy said he ‘appreciated’ the Mets owner’s responses
Cohen and Portnoy became more civil, although they stopped short of full agreement
To some pessimistic Mets fans, seeing their billionaire owner ruined financially seems fitting
‘Is this Gamestop business [affecting] the Mets payroll?’ asked one Twitter user. ‘I mean that’s the main story in all of this.’
‘Why would one have anything to do with the other?’ the 64-year-old native Long Islander replied.
Aside from Mets fans, others have criticized Cohen and other Wall Street insiders for meddling on behalf of a hedge fund rather than individual investors — ostensibly taking the side of Goliath over David.
‘PRISON TIME,’ tweeted Barstool Sports president Dave Portnoy after one retail brokerage website began restricting trades on GameStop shares in a perceived attempt to stop hedge funds short sellers from being squeezed by online investors.
Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports was irate that Cohen and Robinhood would weigh in on the side of a powerful hedge fund rather than individual investors in the GameStop fiasco
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have both condemned Robinhood’s decision to restrict trading, accusing the brokerage website of creating an unfair market in favor of hedge funds.
‘Dems and Republicans haven’t agreed on 1 issue till this,’ the enraged Portnoy continued. ‘That’s how blatant, illegal, unfathomable today’s events are.
‘It also shows how untouchable @RobinhoodApp,@StevenACohen2C Citadel Point72 all think they are,’ Portnoy continued, calling out Cohen and his Point72 investment firm. ‘Fines aren’t enough. Prison or bust.’
Cohen quickly extended an olive branch to Portnoy, asking: ‘What’s your beef with me?
‘I’m just trying to make a living just like you,’ the billionaire tweeted. ‘Happy to take this offline.’
Cohen later agreed that Portnoy was raising ‘legitimate questions that deserve answers’ and Portnoy said he ‘appreciated’ the Mets owner’s responses.
‘See, two reasonable people talking,’ Cohen then tweeted. ‘Not so bad.’
Political reporter Ben Jacobs was immediately reminded of the Wilpons and the Madoff crisis
Fred Wilpon, former majority owner of the New York Mets, and his son Jeff, the COO, in 2017. They were invested with fraudster Bernie Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme was revealed in 2008
Conflicting reports have claimed that the Wilpons either lost hundreds of millions dollars or gained hundreds of millions as a result of the scandal, which resulted in Madoff being sentenced to 150 years in prison. Bernie Madoff (pictured here in 2009) has said that the Wilpon family ‘knew nothing’ about his scheme
Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management and Citadel invested a combined $2.75 billion into Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital hedge fund to shore up its finances this week amid the shocking short-seller squeeze of GameStop shares, according to multiple reports.
GameStop shares soared from $20 earlier this month to nearly $500 on Thursday as a large group of investors coordinated efforts on Reddit to challenge hedge funds that had bet the stock price would fall.
Plotkin, who is a minority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, previously worked for Cohen at Point72’s predecessor, SAC Capital Management, which paid a $1.2 billion fine for insider trading in 2013.
Although Cohen’s estimated $14.6 billion net worth isn’t expected to dry up anytime soon, Mets fans were naturally concerned about any financial issues he may have because the team’s previous majority owners, the Wilpon family, supposedly suffered major losses in 2008 due to their involvement in Bernie Madoff’s notorious Ponzi scheme.
Conflicting reports have claimed that the Wilpons either lost hundreds of millions dollars or gained hundreds of millions as a result of the scandal, which resulted in Madoff being sentenced to 150 years in prison. Madoff has said that the Wilpon family ‘knew nothing’ about his scheme.
In any case, the scandal was blamed by many fans for the Mets’ perceived reluctance to pursue high-priced free agents — a trend that appeared to end when Cohen assumed control of the club.
‘What if Steve Cohen loses so much money on shorting Game Stop shares that he has to sell the #Mets back to the Wilpons?’ asked one Twitter user.
‘Excited for a situation for Mets fans where Reddit is to Steve Cohen as Bernie Madoff was to the Wilpons,’ political reporter Ben Jacobs tweeted Wednesday.
One apparent Philadelphia Phillies fan remarked: ‘Not like we needed any more rooting interest here, but the Mets owner, Cohen, has a massive stake in some of the funds shorting Gamestop. You hate to see it.’
The good news for Mets fans is that the team reportedly has an outstanding offer to reigning National League Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer that would make the former Cincinnati Reds ace one of baseball’s highest-paid pitchers, according to USA Today.
Cohen, a former Mets minority owner, bought a controlling stake of the franchise from the Wilpons for $2.4 billion in 2020.
Robinhood: The trading app for amateurs started by two millennial best friends
Baiju Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev founded Robinhood in 2013, saying they were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Robinhood is a free stock trading app that allows users to easily load cash and buy and sell stocks and options.
The popular app boasts 13 million users, and reportedly about half of them own shares of GameStop.
On Thursday, Robinhood restricted the purchase of shares in GameStop and several other stocks popular on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets.
Baiju Bhatt (left) and Vladimir Tenev (right) founded Robinhood in 2013, saying they were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests
Traders who own the stocks are still able to hold or sell them on Robinhood, but no users are being allowed to purchase new shares.
The move drew furious condemnation across the political spectrum, and accusations that Robinhood is coming to the aid of hedge funds at the expense of small investors.
Legal experts say brokerages have broad powers to block or restrict transactions.
Bhatt and Tenev met while they were students at Stanford University, and had previously collaborated to start a high-frequency trading firm and a company selling software to professional traders.
Both have an estimated net worth of about $1 billion, thanks to their stakes in Robinhood, which is valued at $11.7 billion.
Last month, the SEC ruled that Robinhood had misled its customers about how it was paid by Wall Street firms for passing along customer trades and that the start-up had made money at the expense of its customers.
Robinhood agreed to pay a $65 million fine to settle the charges, without admitting or denying guilt.
Bhatt, 36, is the son of Indian immigrants, and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s in mathematics from Stanford.
Tenev, 34, was born in Bulgaria and moved to the US with his family when he was five. He earned a bachelor’s in mathematics from Stanford and dropped out of a PhD program to team up with Bhatt.