Meme Stocks’ Meteoric Rise

Garfield student investors debate their newfound popularity.

Garfield student investors are wise beyond their years. Armed with the experience of a volatile pandemic-age market and familial and internet-era wealths of knowledge these young entrepreneurs have continually developed and revised their investing strategy.

Alan Lee, a Garfield senior, began investing at the start of the pandemic. “I started investing right after we went online in 2020… I was just bored and looking around online and I saw this video about investing and I thought, ‘This looks pretty cool, maybe I should try it out,’” Lee said. 

The minimum age requirement to begin investing initially inhibited Lee. “At the time [I began investing] I was under 18, which is the age required to invest, so I got my parents to make an account and then I used that,” Lee said. 

This was not an easy process. “My parents do not [invest]… I convinced my parents and it took a lot of convincing so they would make an account,” Lee said.

CJ Friedlander, also a senior, had a different introduction to investing. “It was 2015. I got into [investing] because I had a family member pass away and our family got a small inheritance and my dad decided to split a small portion of that between me and my sister,” Friedlander said.

“I learned from my dad a lot. He taught me the basics and what kind of plan I should have dealing with my money and the market,” Friedlander said. “I would also do my own research, look up different companies and how well they had been doing and also what other investors like Warren Buffet had to say.”

In contrast, Lee’s learning was fueled by the internet. “I started by watching a lot of YouTube videos and reading articles about it. I think the first stock I bought back then was AMC. I bought it when it was two dollars and I think it’s like thirty bucks now,” Lee said. He bought 100 shares.

He didn’t stop there. “I bought Dogecoin because it was just a meme, so I put a couple hundred bucks into it at first. When it blew up I got really lucky with it,” Lee said.

Social-media fueled “meme” stocks erupted in 2021 facilitated by the rise of low or zero cost trading sites such as Robinhood which Lee uses. They are a polarizing topic among many investors and Friedlander is less supportive. “I’m not a fan. The meme of cryptocurrency and NFTs and stuff, I’m sure it will work well for some people but it’s kind of like a joke to the general public… It’s not really, in my eyes, an appropriate way to make money because you’re not really providing anyone or anything some kind of gain,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander values stability in his investments. “It’s better to invest in what you know than to experiment in something because like investing goes you could lose a ton or make a ton. I usually invest in companies that I know a decent bit about like Apple, Microsoft, Starbucks. I know them, I’ve used their products,” Friedlander said, echoing the advice of many veteran investors. 

Both investors have adapted their initial strategies. “I went from being more like trying to hit it big with these 30x 20x stocks, to investing in more safe and stable index funds. I’ve become less risky over time,” Lee said, contrasting stocks with high market variability to index funds – collections of stocks that attempt to track overall market movement and are considered less risky. 

“At the start like back when I was 12, 13 I was kind of a day trader. I would just buy stuff and immediately sell it a couple weeks later for a profit. It was profitable, but I think now after many more years I’ve learned it’s better to keep in the long term, because you’re gonna see a lot more returns overall,” Friedlander said.