With a heavy heart, one of Twitter’s most beloved finance personalities dropped a bombshell announcement.
“After careful consideration and consultation with my divorce lawyer, I have decided to resign my post as Chairman at Enron.”
This is pretty much par for the course for John W. Rich (Fake Tech Exec).
John Rich belongs to a special class of Twitter satirists who have grown massive followings thanks to a consistent, unrelenting, and unbelievable character posting memes, jokes, and replies that point out the absurdity of “real” finance Twitter personalities.
Mr. Rich’s bio features his greatest accomplishments, just like you expect from one of the leading finance voices on Twitter: “Chairman of the Board at Yahoo! and AOL | Divorced 9 times”
Despite his 163K+ followers, most people probably spend little time thinking about the inner-workings of John W. Rich.
But behind the facade of “My wife left me” jokes — the latest coming courtesy of Jim Cramer — and questionable investing advice, there’s Charlie Light, who treats John Rich as far more than just a place to get off jokes. He’s developed a fascinating and intentional strategy behind the handle, which has truly become a brand — allowing him to quit his job and go full-time at FinTwit memery in January 2021.
As you might expect from someone with the chops to consistently churn out hilarious content aimed at the self-serious finance world, Light first had to rub shoulders with some of the same people he skewers with John Rich’s Tweets.
Coming out of school with a masters in accounting, Light worked for a private equity firm. While he never had formally dipped his toe in satire, Light had always wanted to start a side-hustle.
In April 2020, Light had plenty of time on his hands thanks to the Covid lockdown. So, on a whim, he started the original John Rich account.
“I figured it would be a thing I did for fun maybe for a couple of months. I had been reading other finance-related Twitter accounts since about 2017, so I was already familiar with the space, but I had never contributed until then,” Light said.
It only took a month to reach 5K followers, and by November, Rich had reached 42K. Then there was a bit of a setback… the account was banned.
“I was way too aggressive in replying to people, so I learned my lesson after losing that account. Thankfully, I had made plenty of good connections and was able to quickly start up a new account,” Light told me.
By now, nearly two years since starting the original account, Light has an incredibly insightful view on the character he created, the strategy of the Twitter game, and the art of community building.
Recently he Tweeted from his personal account that he basically makes the same five jokes over and over again.
“People like consistency,” he explained.
I asked him to name the five buckets of jokes that he was referencing, and he distilled John Rich into a tried and tested formula: “The main jokes: My wife is leaving me, I lost all my clients’ money, I am very unhealthy, I run a tech company but don’t know anything about tech, and blatantly trying to scam someone.”
One of the things that drew me to John Rich was the realization that FinTwit’s meme culture has become one of the core components of the Twitter discourse. I thought I had an idea why, but couldn’t really articulate it. Of course, Light’s explanation nailed it.
“I think it’s easy for people to make fun of the finance space because there are so many ridiculous events. Stocks going up 500% for no reason, electric vehicle companies with 0 cars produced worth billions of dollars, and stock picking gurus who slip up when photoshopping their ‘amazing returns’.”
And the John Rich account hits home on all of these points.
“John resonates with people because he reflects many of the corporate executives who run public companies: Self-dealing, tone-deaf, inept, yet make massive amounts of money.”
As for learnings Light has picked up along the way, he found one strategy to be particularly effective.
“Identify accounts in your similar space with 10k to 50k followers. Reply to them consistently until they notice you, follow, and reply to your tweets. Once you are in with larger accounts, your growth will take off.”
Boom. Recipe for success. Now you too can have hold dual chairman positions at Yahoo! and AOL.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Mr. Rich on his exceptional trading record.