Chamath Palihapitiya And His Rise As A 'FinTwit' Influencer

The influx of retail traders into the markets has coincided with a rise in certain influencers with big followings on Finance Twitter, a trading-oriented section of the popular social media platform.

Benzinga is pointing out some of the biggest names, in a series on these "FinTwit" influencers.

This time, it's "SPAC King" Chamath Palihapitiya.

Man Of The People: Like Tesla Inc's TSLA Elon Musk, Palihapitiya uses Twitter to talk about stocks. His 1.4 million followers are regularly updated on his stock market moves and investment plans.

His advice is sought after for good reason. With a resume that boasts former high-level positions at Facebook Inc FB and Slack Technologies Inc WORK, Palihapitiya is a CEO, venture capitalist, special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsor and engineer.

Most famously known as the “King of SPACs,” Palihapitiya has brought six companies public under his Social Capital Hedosophia umbrella, including Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc SPCE, Opendoor Technologies Inc OPEN and most recently Clover Health Investments Corp CLOV.

Related story: Elon Musk And His Rise As A 'FinTwit' Influencer

Swaying The Crowd: Palihapitiya's tweets bring him both adoration and criticism. Like Musk, he has earned fans with his populist approach and championing of everyday traders. Palihapitiya undoubtedly helped r/WallStreetBets and an army of retail traders fight hedge funds during the GameStop Corporation GME mania.

“Lots of $GME talk soooooo.... We bought Feb $115 calls on $GME this morning. Let’s gooooooo!!!!!!!!,” he tweeted Jan. 26. He followed that tweet up with “ride or die.”

Palihapitiya is also a big supporter of Bitcoin BTC/USD, viewed by some as a tool for digital freedom and social justice because it isn’t controlled by government.

“When $BTC gets to $150k, I will buy The Hamptons and convert it to sleepaway camps for kids, working farms and low-cost housing,” he wrote on Twitter on Dec. 30, taking a jab at the exclusive seaside home to some of the wealthiest Americans.

On Mar. 6, when Palihapitiya confirmed on Twitter he’d sold off his personal stake of 6.2 million shares of Virgin Galactic for $21 million in profits, the share price of the company fell 36%. His followers were angry and worried he’d lost faith in the company, but Palihapitiya took to Twitter to calm their nerves.

“I freed up some capital by selling some shares in $SPCE so I can keep investing at scale without impacting my pace and strategic view,” he tweeted.

Palihapitiya is reportedly using the funds for a climate change venture in Britain. Retail investors will be watching closely to see if what's he working on becomes the next biggest thing to invest in.

Navigating Through Headwinds: He also calmed nerves in early February when short seller firm Hindenburg Research released a report criticizing Palihapitiya’s IPOC-Clover Health merger.

“For those following $CLOV, trust the process and the facts,” he wrote the following day.

The Financial Times took notice.

“He’s managed, with poise, to straddle a line between televised rants on Wall Street while also shilling risky reverse-mergers to retail investors on an almost bimonthly basis,” the paper wrote at the time.

Photo by JD Lasica/Flickr.

Posted In: Chamath PalihapitiyaElon MuskFinTwitretail tradersSPACswallstreetbetsEducationTopicsCrowdsourcingMediaGeneral

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