Reddit users have another hedge fund legend in their crosshairs: Pershing Square Capital CEO Bill Ackman, whom they’ve followed into his $4 billion special purpose acquisition corporation, or SPAC, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings.
SPAC fever has heated up this year, but Ackman has yet to announce a merger partner for Tontine. That has left members of a Reddit subgroup, r/PSTH — named for the SPAC's stock ticker — heading down the rabbit hole anxiously searching for clues.
The more than 8550 members of r/PSTH — who refer to themselves as “Tontinites” or “Tontards” — can find hidden signs just about anywhere, much as the infamous QAnon members “follow the breadcrumbs” on the Internet to support their conspiracy theories. For the r/PSTH members, these clues can range from tweets by Ackman about being in love to statements he made years ago in media interviews.
To be sure, the r/PSTH members aren’t exhibiting the animosity another Reddit group, r/WallStreetBets, leveled at fellow hedge fund manager Gabe Plotkin of Melvin Capital for his GameStop shorts.
In contrast, they are seemingly such fans of Ackman that one Reddit member posted a meme that has the Pershing Square CEO’s face superimposed on Bruce Lee, the action movie hero, in a scene from “Enter the Dragon.”
But it’s not all fandom. Another Tontinite even broke news about a potential second PSTH SPAC, based on a Delaware filing.
And these investors have captured Ackman’s attention.
“I am following the Reddit group, and I am working very hard not to disappoint them,” Ackman told Institutional Investor. “I’m even more motivated to move the needle for the little guy than I am for the big guy.”
The r/PSTH group gained traction after Reddit user “Stockdoc123” started a second forum, r/PSTH II, by breaking the news last week that Ackman’s hedge fund had filed papers in Delaware on January 22 for a second SPAC, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings II. That led to a frenzy of interest on Ackman’s Twitter page, where the hedge fund manager addressed his followers’ questions.
In its prospectus last summer, Tontine had noted that Pershing Square would not be filing for multiple SPACs at the same time, as other SPAC sponsors have done.
Last week, Ackman reiterated that promise to one of his Twitter followers. When another of his followers asked if investors in his first SPAC could automatically be in on the second IPO, Ackman replied “done” and added, “we have the technology.” On Reddit, that led to speculation about what “the technology” really meant.
Soon after those Twitter exchanges, Tontine put out a press release saying that “investors should follow this account for information about the company.”
There’s another reason the Tontinites are getting increasingly chatty. Ackman previously told investors in his publicly traded hedge fund that he hopes to announce a deal with a merger partner by the end of the first quarter. That’s about four weeks away, making investors edgy.
While there have been no credible leaks about Ackman’s eventual target, several names have been floated. The one that dominates Reddit: Stripe, the online payments processing firm.
In the early hours of March 2, Reddit member “dus01,” also known as “Stripe Lead Detective”, found an auspicious sign in a person Ackman recently began following on Twitter.
“As frivolous as it may seem, Twitter followings provide very important clues,” he or she wrote. “Earlier today I noticed Ackman started following Philippe Laffont of Coatue Management. Coatue has participated in funding for a number of unicorns …and has also participated in a number of fintech investments with Stripe.”
The Reddit user listed a number of other new follows of Ackman’s, including Stripe itself.
Another Tontinite, “sacredkey1,” found clues pointing to Starlink, a broadband global internet system being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The user listed a string of unconnected recent tweets by both Musk and Ackman — with the exception of a rap video tweeted by Ackman in which he, Musk, and SPACs were all mentioned.
To sacredkey1, perhaps the most intriguing of his tweets was Ackman’s February 20 ’s retweet of a two-minute video of Mongolian children getting out of a school bus.
“Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, which is a serious constraint to internet deployment. One of the main selling points for Starlink is it will eventually be able to provide internet access to anyone in the world,” sacredkey1 wrote.
“I admit this one is a stretch,” he or she wrote.
Is it? Only Ackman knows, and he’s not telling.