Oh my, how the crack hotel quarantine squad must have loved the media attention shift to the all-too-brief Super League fiasco. Both debacles contain elements of comedy, outrage, failure and legal intrigue but this time the whole planet was watching. And… witnessing galactico levels of incompetence. What were the club owners thinking!! Finance, actually. However, the super clubs oligarchs made one very important miscalculation.
They thought the fans would eventually accept the financials. They didn’t and the owners also forgot that players, managers and politicians are fans too. In a world of franchises, brands, digital rights and a global race for streaming live content the big surprise for many observers was the speed of the fan victory. My own personal surprise was that Spurs and Arsenal still had fans… but let’s get back to finance and a few other surprising things. It is very apt this week that fan power is grabbing the headlines because financial markets are beginning to accept that fan power is very powerful and can overwhelm financial fundamentals. Consider the following trends:
Meme Stocks: Originally, meme stocks were perceived as a joke played by retail investors on the professional traders. Not so now. A quick perusal of online financial discussion channels will quickly give the reader a sense of retail investors’ cult-like devotion to certain stocks like Tesla, Blackberry, AMC and Gamestop. The good news for the army of retail investors holding these stocks is that the professional skepticism on Wall street has been proven wrong, so far. Even in cases of outright fraud, fan devotion is still to be found.
Nikola: This is the poster child of potential investor pain. Despite SEC investigations, a doctored video of its hydrogen-battery technology in action, a GM walk-away, the founder’s departure and a $50 billion evaporation of value this truck manufacturer (without technology) enjoys a $4 billion valuation on the Nasdaq exchange. More red flags than a Labour Day in Beijing but there are still fans.
NFTs: Non-Fungible-Tokens took the world by storm in Q1. Thanks to blockchain technology, investors could buy the unique digital rights to art, sneakers, tweets etc. Christie’s set pulses racing with a $69m auction result for a digital work created by the artist Beeple. A Gif of a flying cat made $500,000! Suddenly, the world thought NFTs were the answer to collectables just as Bitcoin was seen as the digital answer to currency. Despite a very recent and current 70% fall in values in the NFT market, there are still plenty of fans out there who see value in unique digital assets.
Coinbase: Yes, cryptocurrencies are gaining impressive support every day even as valuations yo-yo with scary volatility – see Bitcoin fall 15% over the weekend. Let’s leave the currency vs crypto debate alone today and marvel at the sheer scale of trading activity in this ‘asset class’. The Coinbase IPO was stunning and this time it was the financials not just the crypto cult which caught the eye. Coinbase is not a cryptocurrency. It is a trading exchange for cryptocurrencies and clocked $1.8 billion of revenues in Q1 alone! On its first day of trading in New York, Coinbase hit a valuation of $112 billion which is the exact same valuation as the 150 year old Goldman Sachs. Coinbase only began operations in 2012. As long as cryptocurrencies keep their millions of fans trading Coinbase looks a proper business.
Dogecoin: Dogecoin started out in life as a joke cryptocurrency. But April 20th was declared “Doge Day” by its faithful supporters/investors. Now Dogecoin boasts a valuation above $50 billion; that’s more than Ford or the former most valuable company in the world, Exxon Mobil. The fans are applying a flamethrower to financial fundamentals. Whoodathunk. Food for thought but if we are talking food let’s finish with my personal favourite…
Hometown International: The ticker for this company is HWIN but the “international” bit is slightly over-clubbed. HWIN is actually a single deli in New Jersey. More club sandwich than global food player but still valued at ……. just over $100m.
What can I say? Call Tony Soprano? On a more serious note, do not under-estimate this democratisation and social networking of finance. It is very powerful and could continue to embarrass the professional money people. However, these new ‘assets’ have to keep their fans entertained. One shudders to think what would happen if these fans became bored or disillusioned…….