• Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy has deemed himself a leader of the small investor revolution. The title doesn’t fit. 
  • A mysterious June 10 trade may have led to Portnoy’s ban from E*TRADE.

With live sports entertainment in the US on hold for now, Dave “El Prez” Portnoy of Barstool Sports has been scratching his gambling itch with good old fashioned securities speculation. In the same scornful tones Portnoy usually reserves for the opponents of his beloved Michigan Wolverines, he has spent the last few weeks taking on his perceived rivals in day trading, including Wall Street overlords like Warren Buffet and even the major trading platforms themselves. 

Portnoy - now calling himself Davey Day Trader - has been live-streaming his trading sessions over the last few weeks, waxing poetic about his status as leader of a fearless crew of amateur investors. Until recent events, Portnoy’s platform of choice was E*TRADE ($NASDAQ:ETFC). The company’s Twitter traffic has consistently risen since quarantine began (with 4,300 new followers since the beginning of 2020), matching a big recovery in its stock price. These figures are indicative of the current “day-trading revolution”, buoyed by idle quarantiners with time and money to burn.

On his streams, Portnoy alternates between winning and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money, sometimes dozens of times over the course of just a few hours. For the discerning Thinknum reader, I’ve compiled some recent highlights from the Davey Day Trader Saga, with commentary.  

The Free-Thinking Free Agent

Most recently, we have El Prez’s falling out with E*TRADE. Portnoy announced on June 25 that he had been kicked from the platform. E*TRADE has yet to put out a statement, leaving the reasoning of the ban up for debate.

Portnoy’s theory is that he was banned when he called out E*TRADE for a server glitch that lost him a few thousand dollars. In his own estimation, his powerful voice was just too dangerous for the platform. 

Some Twitter users and analysts quickly put forward a competing theory. Twitter user Matt Kirchner (@LIGBeyond) replied, "They kicked you off for front loading (sic) penny stocks dummy."

This next tweet references Portnoy’s stock performance on June 10, when he made a killing off of an obscure US-listed Israeli medical company called InspireMD. In a very confident and not-at-all stilted explanation, Portnoy says he got the stock tip on a date, and put $400,000 down on a barely-touched nanocap just to impress the lucky woman.

The ethics of broadcasting that tip on his show, in the minutes after the market opened and several more instances from there, are hard to pin down. After Portnoy told his audience he sold out of InspireMD for a cool $100K on Wednesday at the closing bell, the company’s stock plunged Thursday morning. Jamie Powell from FT Alphaville responded with a largely overlooked June 12 article that treated Portnoy’s position with some wariness. 

Frat Boy Braveheart

El Prez’s overarching concern is that we don’t let “The Suits” win. The Suits are the stock analyst dinosaurs that have traditionally benefited from day trading, and have an interest in normal people like YOU failing at it. 

In this next tweet, Portnoy has found a decent wedge issue to push. Warren Buffet and others have recently warned small investors to stay out of the current market, even as American billionaires have gotten $434 billion richer during the pandemic. This reality, combined with condescending network news coverage and out-of-touch, scolding op-eds like this one from FOX, has just made it easier for Portnoy to style himself as a rebel in finance.

Here he is as William Wallace, taking on the hoards of Wall Street overlords, represented by... charts.

The populist message is respectable at face value, but we really need to consider the messenger. Anyone who has followed his pre-trading career knows that Portnoy is anything but the everyman he is claiming to be. Rather, he is an infamously vengeful, exacting boss who has threatened Barstool employees who stuck up for themselves at work, and mocked others in his industry for losing their jobs

All his bluster elides the fact that he is just as much a Suit as any finance kingpin - even in a Barstool-brand golf visor and a Patriots jersey. 

The nature of Portnoy’s E*TRADE ban is still unknown. Thinknum has reached out to E*TRADE for comment and will update this story with the response. 

We're eagerly waiting to hear about Portnoy’s next game-changing move, whether it's onto a new trading platform, or back to sports betting when the big leagues return in Fall. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.