For nearly three months since he bought the Mets, Steve Cohen had been surprisingly lively with the team’s fans on Twitter, entertaining their offbeat trade proposals, and showing a sense of humor and genuine interest in their thoughts that is rare for a billionaire team owner was.
That all came to a standstill on Friday night when Cohen deactivated his Twitter account and posted a statement through the Mets saying his family had received unspecified threats on social media. The move came a day after Cohen’s hedge fund – and Cohen himself, despite his Twitter account – got caught in the toxic battle between rich and poor for struggling video game retailer GameStop.
“I really enjoyed the back and forth with Mets fans on Twitter, which this week was unfortunately overtaken by misinformation unrelated to the Mets and leading to personal threats to our family,” Cohen said in a statement . “So I’m taking a break now.”
The misinformation and personal threats didn’t seem to have to do with Cohen’s possession of the Mets or his online joke about the team, but rather with his connections to the frothy GameStop stock trading.
Earlier this week, an unknown but sizable number of small investors, frenzied in places like Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, partially boosted the share price of struggling video game retailer GameStop to punish deep-pocketed investors who did had done a strong bet that its value would fall.
The surge in retail investors quickly caused GameStop’s share price to jump from less than $ 20 per share to about $ 325 per share on Friday. For hedge funds that had taken positions against GameStop and expected the value of its shares to fall (known as a short selling of the stock), the stock’s sudden surge cost billions.
One of the biggest losers would have been Cohen.
Cohen’s hedge fund Point72 had nearly $ 1 billion invested in Melvin Capital, another hedge fund run by a former Point72 employee. Melvin Capital had sliced GameStop stock, and as its value rose, Melvin Capital suffered losses so great that other investors had to save $ 2.75 billion, including another $ 750 million from Point72.
Point72 lost 15 percent of its value this year, the New York Times reported.
All of this left some Twitter users wondering if Cohen was really their deep pocket savior, or if his hedge fund’s losses would diminish his willingness to spend on the team.
“Why should one have anything to do with the other,” he replied to a Mets fan, a departure from the everyone’s personality that had been the hallmark of their account. Cohen had worked with Mets fans for months, making trade suggestions, answering questions and cracking jokes.
But on Thursday, Cohen was walking back and forth on Twitter with Dave Portnoy, the snappy founder of the sports and culture website Barstool Sports, which has a long history of racist and misogynist behavior. Portnoy, who has made a name for himself as a day trader for the past few months, accused Cohen of being involved in stock trading apps like Robinhood that prevented users from buying GameStop stock. Without evidence, Portnoy described such behavior as “criminal”.
“I had nothing to do with what happened today … chile out,” Cohen replied in a tweet, appearing to misspell the word chill.
But Barstool Sports fans are notorious for following critics, especially those who incur the ire of Portnoy, on social media. In a separate incident earlier this week, the National Women’s Hockey League released a statement rebuking Barstool and its executive director after posting a video of reporters covering the NWHL and the league’s staff reporting online harassment were exposed.
After his brief exchanges with Portnoy, Cohen came under the same type of fire. In response, he simply closed his account.