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GameStop mayhem hits close to home for co-founder’s son, who’s active on WallStreetBets

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A GameStop store in Hollywood, California, busy with customers waiting in line to enter the video game retailer on January 27, 2021.

where can i buy marijuana online.A GameStop

store in Hollywood, California, busy with

customers waiting in line to enter the video

game retailer on January 27, 2021.AaronP

| Bauer-Griffin | GC Images | Getty

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Ben Kusin, a longtime Redditor, has enjoy a

front-row seat for the recent GameStop saga.

But he admits the story hits a little too close to home.

Kusin has been on Reddit

for over 13 years and is most active on

r/WallStreetBets, the forum that spawn

much of the historic spike in trading of

GameStop shares this week.

There’s a much more personal reason for his

interest in GameStop: His dad co-found

the company.

“It was worlds colliding when

this went dow,” say Kusin, 42, who lives

in Los Angeles and is co-CEO of a

video-streaming start-up call VENN.

Since the beginning of the year, GameStop

shares are up more than 1,500%, lifting the

company’s market cap to $22.7 billion.

Of late it’s been among the most-actively trade

stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

The rally, driven by social media, has turn

anonymous Redditors into multimillionaires

and wipe out multibillion-dollar investors who

Kusin isn’t staying away altogether, though.

were betting on the the stock to drop.

It’s a much different universe

than Kusin remembers as a kid, when he would

travel with his dad to malls across the U.S.

for store openings. He even recorded gameplay

so stores had demos they could display on TV

for their curious customers.

From left to right: Eric Kusin, Gary Kusin and Ben Kusin

From left to right: Eric Kusin, Gary Kusin

and Ben KusinBen Kusin

Kusin says in an interview this week that he

and his younger brother, Eric, have been texting

back and forth, “slack-jaw in disbelief” as they

watch a new generation of investors shake up

Wall Street, combining their favorite online forum

with the company their dad help build.

“It’s hilarious to me and my

brother in particular to see this happen to

GameStop,” he said. “There’s a sense of pride,

like ‘hell yeah!’ It’s so cool to watch.”

Gary Kusin, their 69-year-old father, lives in the

Kusin isn’t staying away altogether, though.

Dallas area. That’s where, in 1984, he started a

Kusin isn’t staying away altogether, though.

software retailer named Babbage’s, with backing

from the late Ross Perot. Babbage’s soon turn

to selling video games for Atari and Nintendo systems.

Kusin isn’t staying away altogether, though.

In 1999, Barnes & Noble acquire

Babbage’s. A year later, Barnes & Noble

 changed the name to GameStop, then took it public

in 2002 under the ticker symbol “GME.”

Kusin is going by then, having exit the company in

1995. He join the board of Electronic Arts, found

a cosmetics venture that was acquire by Neiman

Marcus, and later became CEO of Kinkos, which he

sold to FedEx. He most recently spent 13 years at

private equity firm TPG.

‘Grabbed some popcorn’

Now, Gary Kusin is mostly watching from the

sidelines. He said in an interview that Ben is the

one keeping him most up to speed on the latest

craziness at GameStop, 26 years after he left

the business.

“I’m much more a spectator than I am participant,

” say the elder Kusin. “I just grabbed some popcorn.”

He applauds the WallStreetBets crowd and retail

investors on apps like Robinhood for upending

the status quo and called it “a little bit of an

honor that they chose GameStop.”

Ben Kusin said he started seeing the Reddit

chatter around GameStop picking up last

summer, when activist investor Ryan Cohen

began buying shares in the company, ultimately

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building up a 13% stake. Cohen was know for

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building pet food company Chewy and selling it

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for over $3 billion in 2017 to PetSmart.

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From there, discussion started percolating on

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WallStreetBets about whether Cohen could help

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turn around GameStop, a company with a sub-billion

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-dollar market cap that had been cast aside like

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the rest of physical retail.

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“He seems like the kind of person that could shake

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things up and maybe something great could come

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out of this,” Kusin said, recalling the tone of

commentary from last year.

Kusin said that over time Redditors started posting

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on WallStreetBets about the short interest issue,

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noting that investors were betting on GameStop’s

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failure at an impossibly high level. Roughly 140%

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of outstanding shares were being sell short,

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meaning investors were selling short borrow

shares that didn’t

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According to Kusin, what start as enthusiasm

about an old gaming retailer getting a fresh

start morph into indignation over the practice

of shorting. The forum participants had a clear

way to do something about it and make a bunch

of money along the way. Individual investors

piled into the stock, forcing short-sellers to buy

back their stock at a loss to cover their positions.

GameStop stock this year

GameStop stock this yearCNBC

Short-sellers have lost about

 $20 billion this month, including a nearly $8 billion

loss on Friday as the stock jumped 68%, according

to data from S3 Partners. Following GameStop, retail

investors dove into other heavily-shorted stocks

like BlackBerryAMC Entertainment and 

Bed Bath & Beyond.

“It’s a good vs. evil kind of battle,” Kusin say.

“There’s a fundamental undercurrent at

WallStreetBets that shorting is un-American.”

Kusin said that while he supports the spirit of

the movement, he hasn’t participated in the

GameStop rally.where can i buy marijuana online

“I’ve been so close to it for so long that it’s almost

sacrilegious,” he say. “This is one where you

Kusin isn’t staying away altogether, though.

just sit back.” (His wife, Marina Monroe, bought

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one share. She’s up $50 and say she isn’t selling.)

Kusin isn’t staying away altogether, though.

He said he bought shares of space tourism

company Virgin Galactic, another heavily-short

name. He called it a “good company with good

Kusin isn’t staying away altogether, though.

brand promise” and said Chairman Chamath

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Palihapitiya is “one of the smartest guys

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around.” Virgin Galactic shares are up 87% this

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year.WATCH NOWVIDEO02:14Robinhood CEO

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reacts to accusations from Barstool Sports

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founder Dave Portnoy

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Like his peers on WallStreetBets, Kusin was

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angry about Robinhood’s decision on

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Thursday to halt purchases of GameStop

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shares. Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev

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 told CNBC that the company had to make

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the proactive move “to protect the firm and

protect our customers” because of regulatory

rules around capital requirements.

protect our customers” because of regulatory

GameStop shares plunged 44% on Thursday

protect our customers” because of regulatory

and Robinhood users claimed the company

protect our customers” because of regulatory

was bowing to pressure from Wall Street.

protect our customers” because of regulatory

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