The meme stock craze that started on Reddit and took the financial world by storm in 2021 may have died down, but clearly there are people who still think the social sharing platform is going "to the moon." And they want back on that rocketship.
Jaime Rogozinski, the creator of the popular Reddit community, WallStreetBets, filed a lawsuit against the company on Wednesday, years after the company removed him as a moderator of the subreddit. Rogozinski is looking to be reinstated as a moderator, and wants to block Reddit from using the the name "WallStreetBets," which Rogozinski holds a trademark for.
Rogozinski founded the subreddit r/WallStreetBets back in 2012, nearly 10 years before it blew up as ground zero for the meme stock craze which saw retail investors pump stocks like GameStop and AMC to new heights in order to trigger a short squeeze, which would further inflate the value of these stocks. The popularity of meme stocks and the discourse surrounding it further boosted the WallStreetBets subreddit, which now boasts over 13.6 million subscribers.
In 2020, however, before the meme stock craze even began, Rogozinski was removed from the group he had created, and had his moderator powers stripped from him.
According to Rogozinski, he was removed as moderator on r/WallStreetBets after he applied for a trademark for WallStreetBets in March 2020. Rogozinski also published a book titled WallStreetBets: How Boomers Made the World’s Biggest Casino for Millennials that year as well.
However, Reddit claims that these actions from Rogozinski violated the platform's policies by "attempting to monetize a community." The company suspended Rogozinski's account for a short time, but permanently removed him as a mod on WallStreetBets. The social media platform has also challenged Rogozinski's WallStreetBets trademark and filed its own trademark applications for the name.
Rogozinski has defended himself by claiming he never used his moderator powers to monetize WallStreetBets and how many Reddit users market themselves and sell products. In his lawsuit, Rogozinski makes additional claims arguing that his removal from the subreddit caused WallStreetBets to spiral out of control with users sharing racist and homophobic content on the forum. According to Rogozinski, Reddit’s actions cost him "millions of dollars" in book sales and a lost contract with an esports organization.
"This is a completely frivolous lawsuit with no basis in reality," said a Reddit spokesperson in a statement provided to Mashable. That statement continues: "Jaime was removed as a moderator of r/WallStreetBets by Reddit and banned by the community moderators for attempting to enrich himself. This lawsuit is another transparent attempt to enrich himself. It’s telling that he is filing this suit three years after he was banned by r/WallStreetBets and long after the community rose in mainstream popularity without his involvement. We’ll respond directly in court and continue to protect the best interests of the communities and moderators on our platform."
On Wednesday, before news of the lawsuit broke, The Information published a report stating that Reddit was looking to go public this year, potentially creating a situation where the meme stock platform becomes a meme stock itself. As Gizmodo points out, this possibility has become quite the conundrum for members of the WallStreetBets community. Some Redditors worry that the company might try to "monetize the shit" out of the subreddit once it hits the stock market.
Rogozinski's lawsuit doesn't just ask the courts to determine who owns WallStreetBets, it also the poses a broader question: What rights does one have over a community they created on a platform like Reddit? Perhaps we'll soon have a better idea.
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