In late January 2021, users of the social media website Reddit began discussing the stock of the American retailer GameStop (GME) inside a subreddit called r/wallstreetbets. Avid video gamer fanatics and day traders alike found that a number of hedge funds had shorted the stock by 140 percent, wagering that the company was declining in significance. This online community thought otherwise, seeing potential value in the world's largest video game retailer. So, they purchased stock. With a $17.25 valuation at the beginning of the month, GameStop soared to an intraday stock price of $483. Hedge funds lost money, while the online community raked in gains –– one user posted earnings of over $11 million. The community joked that they were making the market go “ape ****” and called themselves “apes” and the “ape gang.” One user questioned that if they could shake the market with GameStop, could they do so with gorillas?
In a stunning and unexpected display of organic, crowdfunded philanthropy, it looks like they did just that.
On Friday, March 12th, a Redditor posted in the subreddit that they had adopted a gorilla named Urungano from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The thread below went wild, assuming GameStop gains had been used in the adoption with such comments as “because apes together strong” and “apes adopting apes.” Other Redditors followed suit and in less than a week, the fund received more than $350,000 in donations and 3,500 endangered gorillas were adopted!
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is the world’s largest and longest running organization that is fully dedicated to gorilla conservation. It studies and protects the lives of the wild gorillas in Rwanda. Tara Stoinski, President and CEO of the fund, came out with a heartfelt video thank you to the r/wallstreetbets community for their support.
The “ape gang” isn’t done yet. Everyday more followers of the subreddit post their adoptions and donation amounts. In the comments sections of many of the posts it has been proposed that since the market is closed over the weekend, every Saturday and Sunday should be dedicated to a new fund or a particular species. Further talk suggests going full circle on teaching Wall Street a lesson -- rather than spending gains just on luxury items such as cars, jewelry, and houses, they can also use that money to help save our shared Earth.