Shitposting is serious business. Just ask Lit, the pseudonymous creator behind the financial meme account Litquidity. He’s amassed 700,000 Instagram and 270,000 Twitter followers for his snarky commentary on the cultural mores of budding American Psychos and Bored Ape collectors. But his ambitions go well beyond skewering Goldman Sachs interns for emptying their bank accounts on Hamptons summer rentals, crypto bros for going all in on not-so-stablecoins, and Jeff Bezos for just . . . being. “[My] vision is building out a Barstool Sports, but focused on finance,” he says, speaking to Fast Company over Zoom with his face hidden behind his trademark avatar: a dollar bill adorned with a frazzled-looking George Washington.
That Lit’s inspiration is Barstool, the infamously abrasive but undeniably successful digital media company, is telling. The meme-maker has enjoyed a bull run over the past couple of years, as he’s gone from making fun of bankers’ outfits to becoming a sharp observer of market trends, with a budding media empire to boot. In addition to his social accounts, he hosts a weekly podcast (Big Swinging Decks) that unpacks rumors and trends in the financial industry and writes a daily newsletter (Exec Sum) that breaks down news from Wall Street and Silicon Valley. He has a “meme services” arm (aka Memes-as-a-Service, or MaaS) and an e-commerce site selling the likes of “lever tf up” baseball caps and Lehman Brothers banker bags.
In January, Lit made a play for mainstream respectability by signing on as a venture scout for Bain Capital’s VC arm, helping to spot companies and occasionally coinvest as he builds out his own portfolio as an angel investor. “Lit is part of this next generation of media entrepreneurs, like Packy McCormick, who has the popular Not Boring newsletter, that are leveraging their online platforms for investing,” says Christina Melas-Kyriazi, the Bain Capital Venture partner who brought him on. “They have unique insights, and they can leverage their online presence in interesting ways.”
And lest any of his followers think that partnering with an investment firm cofounded by Mitt Romney might dull Lit’s edge, he cleared things up when he tweeted his news of the partnership: “no this isn’t a full-time thing,” he wrote, “the twitter sh*tpoasting [sic] show goes on.” But growing a subversive media brand while the Dow is rising is one thing. The question now is whether Lit can ride a bear market as well as he did the roaring one of the past couple of years.
Litquidity started as a hobby in 2017, when Lit—then a 20-something banker in New York City—took inspiration from a Greek Life-parody blog that he followed in college to create the account. “Comedy’s always been my form of expression,” he says. “I saw parallels between the boot camp of interning on Wall Street and pledging a fraternity.”
His early posts focused on the late nights, Sisyphean workloads, and megalomaniacal managers that he and his peers faced. But during the pandemic, amid one of the biggest bull markets in history, Litquidity proved especially potent, capturing the attention of Wall Street sharks and Reddit minnows alike with posts about financial and cultural trends and meme stocks. In November 2020, for example, when Pfizer announced that its COVID vaccine was 90% effective, Lit responded with a chaotic, techno-backed video montage that featured a “bear cucks” station wagon driving off a cliff, “hedge fund PMs” breakdancing, and “the market” scoring a touchdown by performing a gravity-defying front flip over a “Fauci” defender. (Moderna’s follow-up announcement inspired a similar treatment.) At the same time, Litquidity began morphing into something of an advocacy tool for Wall Street analysts, tracking salary increases and bonus announcements and bringing transparency to a notoriously opaque system.
When his follower count on Instagram doubled, in 2020, Lit quit his job to focus on Litquidity. He claims his bootstrapped company has been “pretty profitable from day one,” and says he’s now surpassed his former six-figure banking salary. In 2021, he forged a podcasting partnership with Mark Moran, an investment banker-turned-contestant on HBO Max reality dating show FBOY Island. For a few months, Moran was a full-time employee at Liquidity, but recently struck out on his own to launch his own investor relations and corporate marketing firm.
Lit’s self-consciously bro-y brand of humor and financial insights have garnered him a powerful set of followers that include bank CEOs and venture capitalists, as well as their aspirants. “The brand I’ve tried to build is something that’s not as lowbrow as a WallStreetBets,” Lit says, referencing the popular finance subreddit where members use profane language to discuss which stocks to invest in. Instead, he’s trying to appeal to people who are working in the trenches of finance—the kinds of people who instantly snicker (or laugh in recognition) at a post about private equity associates partying in Tulum with “mid tier Instagram influencers,” featuring an awkward photo of a vacation-mode Jeff Bezos with Lauren Sanchez.
Lit notes that he can leverage his relationship with these followers to influence their purchasing habits, something that informs his investments, which include social trading app Iris, hiring platform Pallet, and shoe brand Amberjack. “People say a picture is worth a thousand words; I would say a meme is worth ten thousand words,” says Melas-Kyriazi of Bain Capital. “It drives culture and even decision-making.”
The picture turns murky when it comes to Lit’s advertisers. While crypto bros and meme stock day traders have been a frequent target of Lit’s humor, his early sponsors include some of the very companies that have supported their lifestyles. In February, Litquidity pulled in crypto exchange CoinFlex as a podcast sponsor in an annual deal worth $1.5 million. Three months later, CoinFlex paused all withdrawals on its platform due to what it called “extreme market conditions” and dropped its sponsorship with Litquidity. It’s currently allowing users to withdraw 10% of their account balance, while laying off up to 60% of its staff. (Lit says he has lined up another “big sponsor” that will be announced soon.) Another advertiser (and portfolio company), Sweater Ventures, an investment platform that describes itself as “the venture capital fund for everyone,” likely won’t do much to quell the impression that Lit is a bit too agnostic when it comes to sponsors.
Other companies pay Litquidity to post job listings in the newsletter, which Lit says has an average unique open rate of nearly 60%. Career-development and education platform OfficeHours worked with the brand to create the Litquidity Student-Athlete mentorship program, billed as “the best preparation out there for the future Patrick and Patricia Batemans of the world.” Lit has crafted sponsored social posts (aka MaaS) for the likes of Karat Financial and Polymarket and even partnered with Houston-based RCI Hospitality Holdings, which includes strip clubs, nightclubs, and a “breastaurant” concept, to cohost the company’s Q2 2022 earnings call on Twitter Spaces. The event was chaotic and confusing, but served its purpose of raising brand awareness.
Lit still believes advertisers will flock to his platform, even in a tough economy. “It’s like at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone pulled back, but then companies realize they still need to have marketing with a high ROI for their product. And I have a cost-effective marketing channel.” If that all sounds a little staid, well, it should. Lit memed a business into existence—now, he’s got to keep the lights on.