Here at InvestorPlace we write primarily about stocks and cryptocurrencies. We writers blend the subjective and objective regarding a given stock or crypto and hope to give you, the reader, actionable insight.
While we often include commentary about leading names in the world of stocks and corporations, it’s more rare that we write about these leading names as a main topic per se. We’ll talk about Warren Buffett while discussing Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B), or perhaps cover the best stocks to buy that Buffett owns, but we don’t generally dedicate an article to Warren Buffett, the person.
This article will break from that tradition. With the rise of social media, the role of influencers has become greater and greater across all spheres of life. So I’ll be looking at the business and investing names that will be in the headlines this summer, and why they’ll be there.
Here are 9 post-pandemic summer saviors every investor should keep an eye on:
- Elon Musk
- Dave Portnoy
- Cathie Wood
- Jerome Powell
- Chamath Palihapitiya
- Whitney Wolfe-Herd
- Vitalik Buterin
- Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger
Most stock pickers would rather worry about their investments than influencers. But when influencers are impacting your investments, well, the Venn Diagram starts looking more and more like a circle.
Post-Pandemic Summer Saviors: Elon Musk, Maker of EVs and Much Wow
Let’s begin with one of the most prolific names in business, entrepreneurship, and popular culture today: Elon Musk. Whether he’s talking about Dogecoin (CCC:DOGE-USD), meeting with Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) miners to discuss energy use, hosting Saturday Night Live or simply executing the mundane task of heading Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), Musk remains an incredibly busy man.
And there is little doubt that Musk will make plenty of headlines this summer. Perhaps in the coming months Musk will be more notable as it relates to Tesla or SpaceX. But for now, he’s most likely to be in the headlines as it relates to cryptocurrency. Although he has no formal association with Dogecoin, Musk certainly has a great deal of ability to influence its price, and has been in intermittent contact with the crypto’s developers. He even jokingly referred to himself as ‘The Dogefather’ on SNL.
Simply put, when Musk talks about Dogecoin, it moves. Musk also has great influence over Bitcoin, as investors recently witnessed when Tesla announced it would no longer accept the cryptocurrency for the purchase of its vehicles.
I can’t think of a business leader with more sway than Musk. That alone is reason enough to pay attention as an investor.
Dave Portnoy, Barstool Bad Boy
Dave Portnoy is a much smaller name than Musk, unless you’re in the know. While Musk is a household name, Portnoy has a more niche following as a well-established name in sports/frat bro culture. Nevertheless, he is quickly becoming more influential, leading a bandwagon of retail investors into the markets at the start of the pandemic.
Portnoy’s recent press is related to crypto as much as his status as the founder of Barstool Sports. Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) maintains a 36% stake in Barstool Sports. The company purchased its stake in Barstool Sports for $163 million in 2020. Portnoy also has a YouTube channel called One Bite Pizza Reviews with a following of more than 400,000 viewers.
In short, Dave Portnoy has a great deal of influence and money following the Penn National Gaming deal. Currently that influence is manifesting itself as it relates to cryptocurrency. And Portnoy, like everyone else in that sector, is being affected by what Elon Musk says and does.
Portnoy recently announced that he had invested $40,000 in SafeMoon (CCC:SAFEMOON-USD). Diversification was the impetus for his foray into the largely unknown crypto name. Previously, his only crypto holding was in Bitcoin.
Referring to the effects of Tesla’s decision to no longer allow the purchase of its vehicles with Bitcoin, Portnoy said: “I will never waver in bitcoin. I don’t care what Elon Musk says, but events in the last couple of days and weeks have made me think I have to get involved in something beyond bitcoin.”
Cathie Wood, Innovation Investor
Cathie Wood is much more of a traditional investing influencer given her Wall Street pedigree. In fact she has an exceptional financial background, having climbed the corporate ladder for several decades. Recently Wood has gained notoriety as the founder of ARK Invest and its flagship ARK Innovation ETF (NYSEARCA:ARKK).
The ARK Innovation ETF itself has returned more than 40% over the past five years. There’s a fair argument to be made that Wood’s opinions deserve perhaps as much credence as investment advice from any other person on this list.
Wood is a staunch proponent of Tesla and Bitcoin, believing Tesla will one day be worth more than $1 trillion; currently, its market capitalization sits at slightly over $600 million. She recently also made a bold prediction about Bitcoin, stating that she believes it is “on sale” and “will reach $500,000.”
Jerome Powell, Inflation Advocate
As Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell is just about as central to the trajectory of the U.S. economy as any single individual can get.
As the U.S. continues to open as more and more Americans get vaccinated, one of the coming months’ biggest stories is going to be employment. Jerome Powell will have a great effect on the employment narrative. Along with employment, another pressing concern is, of course, inflation.
Powell is clearly in the driver’s seat as it relates to both of these key economic issues. He is up for reelection or replacement as Fed Chairman in February. Powell, like President Biden, is committed to low unemployment in the belief that it benefits those most disadvantaged in the job market.
Back in August, Powell unveiled his monetary policy framework, which pushes inflation above the 2% mark many are so familiar with. The idea is to counteract the years following the most recent recession in which inflation averaged below 2%. Expect partisan arguments to color any and all decisions about Biden’s February appointment.
Chamath Palihapitiya, SPAC Superstar
Chamath Palihapitiya, the so-called “SPAC King,” would seem like the last person to advocate for more regulatory oversight of the controversial investment vehicles.
After all, he has six SPACs under his belt, and he’s participated in another eight Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE) deals. The results of these deals have also drawn criticism.
Yet in a recent opinion piece for Bloomberg, Palihapitiya called for tighter regulation and increased disclosure.
Palihapitiya is essentially the face of the SPAC boom which has tapered off in 2021. Readers will remember that SPACs were red hot in 2020 and the start of this year. Readers may also know that Palihapitiya has been a target of investor ire, as he profited handsomely in SPAC deals including Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE), Opendoor (NASDAQ:OPEN) and Clover Health (NASDAQ:CLOV), while their performance has been less than stellar.
Whatever the future fate of SPACs is, Palihapitiya will be central to the narrative.
Whitney Wolfe-Herd, Dating App Wunderkind
Whitney Wolfe-Herd is the name to watch when it comes to the online dating industry. She was an early member of the development team for the popular dating app, Tinder (NASDAQ:MTCH). She later became the Vice President of Marketing for Tinder and received a lot of praise for the rise to popularity of the app itself.
Wolfe-Herd resigned from the company in 2014 and filed sexual harassment claims against the company which were later settled. She then moved on and founded female-focused dating app Bumble (NASDAQ:BMBL) in the same year. Bumble became publicly traded in February 2021 via IPO.
Expect Wolfe-Herd to be this summer as in-person dating will be on the increase as things open up. This should provide more clarity on the future of Bumble’s business given its young life as a publicly traded entity.
Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum Environmentalist
Vitalik Buterin always grabs headlines as one of the founders of Ethereum (CCC:ETH-USD). One of the most salient issues now confronting cryptocurrency at large is that of environmental impact.
Elon Musk recently implored Bitcoin miners to be transparent regarding their energy consumption. Musk specifically suggested that companies including Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ:RIOT) and Marathon Digital Holdings (NASDAQ:MARA) publish reports on the matter.
At the same time Buterin is reiterating his stance that a shift to a proof-of-stake model will improve the situation. Ethereum is committed to switching over from proof-of-work, the energy-intensive model used by bitcoin, by the end of 2021.
The environmental impact of cryptocurrency will remain a central issue. Should Ethereum adapt to the model quicker, its prices should rise quicker. As Buterin recently stated: “Proof-of-stake is a solution to the [environmental issues] of Bitcoin — which needs far less resources to maintain.”
It is clear that management at Ethereum sees the switch to the POS model as a potential path toward a future overtaking of Bitcoin.
Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger, The Berkshire Boys
Most of the names on this list have been people who came to the fore quite recently. Warren Buffett of course, has a much longer track record. The reason I believe he’s going to become more prominent in the headlines this summer is that he is a staunch non-believer in cryptocurrency.
There has also been a recent pivot out of growth stocks and into more traditional value stock investing. There is no doubt that media outlets will be clamoring for Buffett’s thoughts on all of this.
Buffett’s right hand man, Charlie Munger clearly has a distaste for Bitcoin:
“I don’t welcome a currency that’s so useful to kidnappers and extortionists and so forth, nor do I like just shuffling out of your extra billions of billions of dollars to somebody who just invented a new financial product out of thin air. I think I should say modestly that the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization.”
While Buffett was less vocal, he is a well-known skeptic as well. With Bitcoin’s massive drop of late, many more investors will be listening to the advice of the Berkshire Hathaway duo.
On the date of publication, Alex Sirois did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Alex Sirois is a freelance contributor to InvestorPlace whose personal stock investing style is focused on long-term, buy-and-hold, wealth-building stock picks. Having worked in several industries from e-commerce to translation to education and utilizing his MBA from George Washington University, he brings a diverse set of skills through which he filters his writing.