Inside money, markets, and big tech

SEC halts $ZOOM after coronavirus traders confuse it for Zoom app

The wrong stock has pumped almost 700% since mid-Feb

zoom

Eager traders looking to cash in on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have flocked to purchase shares in video-calling platform Zoom – except some bought the wrong stock.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tweeted Thursday it was suspending trade for Zoom Technologies — a relatively tiny holding company supposedly headquartered in Beijing — due to the confusion.

[Read: People are skipping Zoom meetings by looping videos of themselves paying attention]

Zoom Technologies’ subsidiaries reportedly develop games and electronic components for mobile phones, among other things, but the SEC shared concerns that it hadn’t filed a public disclosure statement since 2015.

Zoom Technologies share price had skyrocketed from around $3 in mid-February to $20.90 last Friday, a nearly-700% increase.

It’s highly likely investors had intended to buy shares in Zoom Video Communications, a much larger firm that went public last year, responsible for the popular free video calling app Zoom.

Zoom up 30% while rest of market down 50%

Coronavirus lockdown measures across the world have boosted Zoom‘s usage big time. Offices, schools, and universities gone digital have readily adopted Zoom as their video-calling platform of choice, while others have used it to host events like weddings and bar mitzvahs.

This increased demand has sent Zoom Video Communication’s share price from below $80 in January to an all-time-high of $159.56 on March 19.

This is $ZM, the company behind Zoom.

Beyond the liquidity problems associated with small-cap stocks like $ZOOM, the real problem is the tickers. Tickers are sequences of letters or numbers that stock exchanges use to reference companies in a shorthand manner, often abbreviations.

NASDAQ lists Zoom Technologies, which didn’t make the Zoom app, as $ZOOM, while the ticker for Zoom Video Communications, which did make the Zoom app, is $ZM.

Confusing, right? The people accidentally buying $ZOOM instead of $ZM share your pain. Thing is, this shit has happened before.

Last year, Business Insider reported that Zoom Technologies’ share price had gone from nearly zero to almost $6 just after Zoom Video Communications filed its paperwork to go public  likely the exact same confusion that led to the SEC’s intervention this week.

Published March 27, 2020 — 14:12 UTC