‘Meme-lord’ Litquidity reveals his true identity

Being friends with Hank Medina is a dangerous game. Better known by his pen name Litquidity, he is always quietly looking for content — and even your attire could turn you into a viral meme.

People who know him say Medina is the last person you would expect to be the “fin-meme lord” who has built a following of 800,000 followers on Instagram. He is soft-spoken, polite — the opposite of his Patrick Bateman-meets-enthusiastic junior analyst alter-ego.

“There were always those loudmouths at the office,” Medina said of the Wall Street type whom Litquidity satirises. “But I was mostly the observer.”

Already known to be an industry insider who posted his memes from his office bathroom, Litquidity’s identity has long been a subject of speculation both among his followers and the finance professionals he pillories.

“I don’t think you’d ever know that it was him behind Litquidity, even if you met him or he told you point blank,” said friend Waylon Chin, whose $1,000 beige Loro Piana loafers Medina skewered this summer in a post titled “The ‘Fourth of July in the Hamptons’ Starter Pack”.

Revealing his identity for the first time in an interview with the Financial Times, the 32-year-old Medina explained how he grew his brand from biting memes on the internet into a profitable portfolio of businesses and investments.

Litquidity’s instagram post
© Litquidity/Instagram

Born in Miami to Nicaraguan immigrants, he grew up playing tennis on public courts with his father. It surprises people that he is Hispanic, he said, and that he is “not a country club guy”.

Having graduated from Cornell University’s business school in 2013 he sought a job in finance, which he saw as the fastest path to paying off his student loans. After a brief stint at lender CIT Group he joined Jefferies as an investment banker, where he was “top bucket” among the intake of analysts in his first year.

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Medina “was more mature than a lot of kids coming straight out of college”, said one former colleague at Jefferies, adding: “He was an amazing Excel guy . . . Everyone in the bullpen used his templates.”

Kevin Cullinane, a former Jefferies teammate who is now at Barclays, said he could tell Medina “was on to something even before he started the account — he was the only person in the bullpen showing me funny stuff from the internet”.

In 2016 Medina joined Connecticut-based private equity firm Wexford Capital where, with some distance from the trading floor, he launched the Litquidity account. It took off as young Wall Streeters shared his posts poking fun at their industry, in on the jokes as well as the butt of them.

“Now, the amount of people at Barclays around the bullpen that say, ‘did you hear this latest thing from Litquidity?’ is amazing,” Cullinane said. “I tell them, ‘that’s my boy from Jefferies’.”

© Alicia Vera/FT

When Wexford relocated to Palm Beach in 2019, Medina joined Deutsche Bank in a return to investment banking. The Litquidity account became even more popular during the pandemic and in late 2020 he decided to pursue the project full-time.

As it kept gaining momentum it started to be noticed by more senior figures on Wall Street.

“I saw how many young people were paying attention to Litquidity, and realised this was a way the young generation in our industry was communicating with each other,” said Rich Handler, chief executive of Jefferies.

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Although Handler never interacted with Medina at Jefferies, he became a mentor and helped advise the young social media star on building the company.

“He literally went from a junior person in Wall Street to running a not small — in terms of reach and revenue — entrepreneurial brand,” Handler said. “He was in uncharted waters.”

In October 2021 Medina realised he needed help to build Litquidity into what he called the Barstool Sports of finance — a reference to the popular betting blog founded by Dave Portnoy.

So he hired his first employee, former investment banker and reality TV star Mark Moran, whom he gave equity. Medina estimated at the time that Litquidity’s valuation could be roughly $20mn, based on similar brands raising capital.

The pair launched newsletter Exec Sum and a podcast they co-hosted, Big Swinging Decks, which was sponsored by a crypto firm. But when crypto crashed the sponsorship evaporated and Medina paused the podcast. Amid a clash over their vision for the business, Moran’s involvement ended after just 10 months when he departed to launch his own venture and Litquidity returned to being a one-man operation.

© Litquidity/Instagram

Medina has since focused on his venture capital offshoot Litquidity Capital, which has made more than 30 investments in early stage start-ups, and in 2022 he joined Bain Capital Ventures as a scout.

He also last year joined forces with executive search firm Whitney Partners to launch Litney Partners, a recruitment business for junior employees. Litquidity handles the outreach to his followers, while Whitney Partners does the vetting and placement of candidates.

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“There are no followings that exist like Lit’s. It’s a highly engaged, super niche audience,” said Bennett Jordan, a managing director at Whitney and former contestant on reality show The Bachelorette who is Medina’s partner in Litney.

While it was not the best time for hiring on Wall Street, Medina said, “we did as well as we could have done in a down market”.

In 2023 he offered $1,000-an-hour calls to his followers, an experiment to see if people would pay — and was surprised by how many did. “The point was, why not?” he said. “If people really wanted to talk to me at a time when I was incredibly busy, it’s like, here’s how.”

It has been a year of transition for Medina and Litquidity. Medina and his long-time partner divorced last spring. He said anonymity had helped him combat anxiety, offering protection both from online attacks and litigious banks.

His vision for the brand has changed. “It’s not just a media firm any more,” he said, adding that he now saw Litquidity as a “holding company” for investing in brands that speak to Litquidity obsessives. There will still be hilarious memes but now “there’s venture, there’s recruiting, and Bond” — a private members club focused on racket sports that he co-founded.

He looks for inspiration to figures such as Jimmy Buffett, the late singer-songwriter turned business tycoon, and musician-investor DJ Kygo, both of whom he credits with leveraging a “cultish” following into a portfolio of businesses.

But of achieving an 800,000-strong Instagram following, he said: “That’s like eight Ohio State University football stadiums. And I’m just standing in the middle of the field, making jokes to them. It makes me feel so tiny. I try not to think about it.”


Source: https://www.ft.com/content/7305bc73-304e-4771-95b1-47558976f3c8