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Who is Tyler Durden?

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Reader Peter A pointed out this New York Post article on Tyler Durden today. The Post has broken some hedge fund stories, like losses at particular well known hedge funds during rough trading periods, so it does have good connections in Hedgistan.

I would rather not get into this fray, but Tyler Durden has guest posted here, and his (or more accurately, their) stories have shed light on some questionable trading practices, and I applaud that effort. The Post story has now been picked up by other blogs, and at least in part confirmed by Felix Salmon, so I would be remiss in not posting on it.

Here is the nut of a story up today, “Blogger May Have a Past“:

A 30-year-old New Yorker who was barred from the securities industry last year may be behind an increasingly popular financial blog known as Zerohedge.com, which is catching flack for its obsession with anonymity.

Daniel Ivandjiiski, whose most recently listed address is on the Upper East Side, was barred last September by the financial industry’s self regulatory authority, FINRA, for insider trading….

Ivandjiiski didn’t return requests for comment, but he recently told industry publication Hedge Fund Alert that while he writes for Zerohedge, he’s not a founder.

“He denied that he was a founder. He said he was just a contributor,” Hedge Fund Alert Managing Editor Howard Kapiloff told The Post.

Ivandjiiski told Kapiloff that he’s one of several writers who contributes to the site under the pseudonym “Tyler Durden,” the charismatic, psychopathic alter-ego of the main character in the book and movie “Fight Club.”…

A manifesto on the Web site suggests Zerohedge contributors are seeking to avoid the backlash their comments could unleash, saying anonymity protects “unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society.”

A man who answered the phone at Zerohedge declined to give his name or to comment. He offered vague statements like, “Zerohedge is not one person,” and, “For us, its not about the messenger, its about the message.”

A manifesto on the Web site suggests Zerohedge contributors are seeking to avoid the backlash their comments could unleash, saying anonymity protects “unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society.”

It is quite clear just from the variety of writing styles associated with the name “Tyler Durden” that more than one writer is associated with that name, It is also clear that the folks at Zero Hedge are unusually well plugged in, independent of their sources. The operation appears to have had a Bloomberg terminal from its early days (no minor expense), suggesting the writer(s) at a minimum co-located with a trading operation. I had though initially ZH might be a former hedgie who was trading for his own account and posting, but the volume of posts (and effort required to produce them) now suggests that some writer/researchers there are close to full time.

Felix Salmon indicates he has known of the Ivandjiiski connection since March. Chris Whalen said he had lunch with Durden .(one of the Durdens, anyway) and the tone of the throwaway comment suggested he knew him fairly well. Andrew Cuomo also seems to be taking some of the Zero Hedge stories seriously, particularly the ones about high frequency trading.

And the timing of the release of this news story could suggest (in a watered down rerun of what happened to Eliot Spitzer, the public exposure of information damaging to someone who was stepping on too many influential toes) that this story is appearing now precisely because Durden is getting to close to some even more damaging stories than he has provided thus far.

I am hardly one to throw stones at psuedonymous bloggers, but it only takes a modicum of digging to figure out who I am (and I have appeared on TV and done a bit of radio). I am told by a reader that he appeared on Bloomberg radio yesterday, and a reader who heard the broadcast says he plans to reveal his identity soon

Zero Hedge is a costly operation (apparent access to data services, number of staffers working what appears to be close to if not full time) and that does raise questions about its ambitions. It may be seeking to become a new media type of platform, but the combination of missionary fervor and possibly commercial aspirations is a mix that (per comments I have gotten from readers) leaves some perplexed.

The mysteriousness has served Zero Hedge well thus far, but the messianic zeal and the sometimes strident tone serves to undercut their typically good content. It clearly boosts traffic (ZH has become popular in a very short period of time), but does it in the end serve his cause? In the long run, it raises question about credibility, and and I worry not just his/theirs, but of financial blogs generally.

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7 comments

  1. Siggy

    I went to ZH and found that they have three offices in rather pricey cities. I note that they state that TD is a pseudonym for as many as 40 individuals. They assert that they feel that anonymity better serves their purpose of bring to public view the shennaigans of the poltical economy.

    I can accept all of that. I see it as their prerogative. I see it as my responsibility to assess the veracity of their presentations. Being nice is not necessary, what is necessary is being factual.

    The site presents a lot of stuff, unfortunately a lot of it is noise. If they have an absolute fault, it is their inability to apprehend that less is generally more effective.

  2. Mean Professional Trader

    I got ip banned from zerohedge today for posting comments deriding ZH and the Tylers Durden. I am a trading professional who uses software to trade different assets on exchanges across the globe. I do have an agenda which is to trade and make money. Zerohedge offends me because they are populist, ill-informed, and stir up angry, ignorant commenters cum acolytes and claim to be insurgents against “elites”. Just like Lou Dobbs on CNN. I am beyond suspicious of those propose to put the heads of elites on sticks. ZH are jokers who are engaged in something actually quite dangerous. Just look at the crazy frothing anger by their registered users looking for someone to blame for the US’s current troubles.

    Tylers claim to be fighting against manipulation of retail investors and then peddle very tenuous, sometimes simply false information presented as fact. Their fight club trope shows how shallow and irresponsible they really are.

    Their Bloomberg screen shots are supposed to be signifiers of their insider status, as “real” wall streeters, but they continuously abuse terminology and basic facts while railing against the state of the modern world.

  3. Theo O'Brien

    …I know this isn’t even close to the point, but the Post almost immediately gives away the big twist in Fight Club. I, like most people, have already seen the movie but come on, let’s at least use a spoiler alert!

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