I am Rick Smith, the founder and CEO of Axon Enterprise. Years ago, we were almost brought down by attacks from short sellers, and I'm passionate about short seller reform (an issue that has gotten attention thanks to Reddit's WallStreetBets). AMA!
Hello again Reddit! I enjoyed my last AMA with you all and I'm glad to be back again on a subject near and dear to me: short sellers.
About a decade and a half ago, my company came under short seller attack. We faced a highly-coordinated PR and legal campaign, and it almost brought the company down. What made no sense was that our company was thriving, on track for its best year yet and consistently crushing analyst expectations. We discovered in time that the shorts had worked the media, contacted regulators, colluded with someone in our company, and timed their trades just before bad news broke.
The damage was significant. More than a billion dollars in shareholder equity vanished, much of it into the pockets of the short sellers. These attacks can get personal, too. At one point, I faced death threats and moved in order to keep my family safe.
I know other executives who have equally brutal stories about short attacks. But we don't talk about them. Our lawyers urge us to settle; our comms people urge silence. No one wants to be on the wrong side of a short attack. But seeing what WSB did these past few weeks made me want to speak out.
This is a long overdue fight, and I'm happy to answer questions about what I went through and how we can fix the system so others don't have to go through it. There's actual reforms needed here, and some of them are common sense and simple. And of course, happy to talk about anything else on your minds—entrepreneurship, Arizona, Star Wars, or all of the above.
Update: Hey everyone, thanks for all the great questions. My kids want me to play with them before they have to go to bed, so I’m going to check out for now. But I really do appreciate doing these and all the input and questions! Thank you!