Strange names and tickers, such as Alien Metals’ UFO, add to their appeal. “A meme or a fun name helps new investors to engage with firms, which is what many are after as big companies have been faceless for too long,” Mr Lane said.
‘American investors tend to be much more aggressive online’
Mr Knight gets his share tips from threads on online forums and his investing club as well as online groups dedicated to specific stocks on Telegram, the messaging app.
William Mackenzie, a 33-year-old lawyer from London, owns Greatland Gold and Argo Blockchain and also uses online communities to keep up to date with what is going on at the firms. “There’s a lot of sharing of information. One guy posts satellite photos of Greatland’s mining sites on a Telegram chat, so you can see what they are up to,” Mr Mackenzie said.
He invested £65,000, mostly in these two stocks, in his Sipp and Isa in August. By mid-January it was worth about £255,000. He plans to use some of the money to put down a house deposit.
Neither Mr Mackenzie nor Mr Knight use Reddit for their stock tips.
“American investors tend to be much more aggressive online. They’re all about bringing down Wall Street, whereas we are trying to share information so that everyone does well. You only have to look at how people respond to things on Twitter to see who is American and who is British,” Mr Knight said.
He added that he hoped GameStop fever did not spill over into Britain: “With that style of investing you’re bound to lose money. It’d be a shame if it put people off stock markets forever.”
One stock, popular on forums, that burned many users was Sirius Minerals, a fertiliser manufacturer based in North Yorkshire. Thousands of DIY investors saw their savings wiped out after the firm nearly collapsed then was taken over by FTSE 100 miner Anglo American in a cut-price deal.