A new exchange-traded fund (ETF) is coming to the market this week, and it is anything but typical. The VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment ETF, trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker "BUZZ," will be available Thursday, March 4. BUZZ is getting some attention after Barstool Sports' founder Dave Portnoy promoted it on social media with an "emergency press conference."
The ETF will reportedly use an algorithm based around finding the 75 large-cap stock names that are getting the most positive discussion on the internet, principally on social media like Twitter, Reddit, etc. So where does Dave Portnoy come into the equation? Although he is not part of the VanEck ETF, Portnoy is reportedly now part owner of the company that created the algorithm and licenses the strategy -- Buzz Holdings ULC. In other words, the ETF is using the index strategy being created by that business to manage its capital.
This is certainly a bit different from your typical ETF. There are actively managed funds, but this ETF will have to be constantly moving positions to track the trending habits of online investment chatter. Given the interest among retail traders in the growing popularity of social media stocks, this new ETF is likely to attract investors once it begins trading. Some of the companies listed on the Buzz index include DraftKings (DKNG 2.80%), Twitter (TWTR), Facebook (META 1.13%), Ford (F 1.50%), and Amazon (AMZN 1.03%).
These are obviously successful names, but one has to wonder what might happen if a stock in dire financial straits gets onto the list. GameStop (NYSE: GME) is a prime example. If too many companies like that manage to hold onto the market capital requirements of $5 billion and create enough chatter online, will this ETF gain too much exposure to poorly situated businesses that are simply getting extreme trading activity?
The VanEck ETF is definitely not investing as we know it. So it will be interesting to see where this strategy goes.