Bloomberg’s Tracy Alloway and Luke Kawa claim they have unmasked the masterminds behind the popular and controversial “anti-establishment” financial news site Zero Hedge. The site’s unapologetic and often bearish market stories have been penned under the pseudonym “Tyler Durden,” Brad Pitt’s iconic character from the movie "Fight Club."
However, according to Bloomberg, “Durden” has actually been a three-headed snake:
- Colin Lokey, a 32-year-old former Seeking Alpha director
- Daniel Ivandjiiski, a 37-year-old Bulgarian-born former hedge fund employee who was barred for insider trading in 2008
- Tim Backshall, a 45-year-old credit derivatives strategist
Despite its populist tone, Lokey told Bloomberg he recently left Zero Hedge because he didn’t see eye-to-eye with the others when it came to editorial vision.
“Zero Hedge ceased to serve that public service years ago,” Lokey said. “They care what generates page views. Clicks. Money.”
In addition, Lokey said he faced constant pressure to frame stories in-line with a particular world-view, which he described as “Russia=good. Obama=idiot. Bashar al-Assad=benevolent leader. John Kerry=dunce. Vladmir Putin=greatest leader in the history of statecraft.”
Lokey claims Zero Hedge’s focus on traffic and revenue is hypocritical, but Ivandjiiski sees things differently.
“Obviously, every publisher’s mission is to maximize revenue and page views, and we think that we do it in a way that is appropriate,” Ivandjiiski said.
Following the Bloomberg story, Zero Hedge itself published a scathing rebuttal painting a very different picture of the situation.
After a brief shot at Bloomberg for reporting information that “could have been discovered by anyone with a cursory 30 second google search,” Zero Hedge set out to pick apart Lokey’s version of the story.
According to Zero Hedge, Lokey “approached us over a year ago begging for a job after he was fired with cause from Seeking Alpha following a fight with a coworker.”
“Unfortunately, Colin was also revealed to be an emotionally unstable, psychologically troubled alcoholic with a drug dealer past, as per his own disclosures,” Zero Hedge adds.
The article goes on to claim these issues were the true cause of Lokey’s departure and were not mentioned in the Bloomberg piece at all.
Zero Hedge included a number of message captures allegedly from Lokey that detail his issues with alcohol impacting his work, including the one below.
Credit: Zero Hedge
Finally, Zero Hedge addressed the accusations of systematic bias in its content.
“We are certainly ok with being the object of other’s conspiracy theories, in this case completely false ones since we have never been in contact with anyone in Russia, or the US, or any government for that matter,” Zero Hedge says.
The site claims it has never accepted a dime of funding outside of advertising revenue and that Lokey was never pressured about how to frame his articles or editorialized.
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