Xenophon Davis acts for Alan Davison, defending him in a defamation action for a number of twitter posts he made under the cryptic handle of @StockSwami. Little has been known of his identity or backstory until now.
In 2017 Alan Davison uncovered what he believed was a pattern of coordinated stock pumps on investment forums coming from a number of anonymous social media accounts. In what was to become something of a mission, Davison began to research and expose the authors of those schemes, tweeting from his account as Stock Swami and earning himself a considerable and fervent following. What is surprising to most of his fans is that there is little irony in his twitter handle – he is a genuine Hindu Swami, having spent 12 years living in an Ashram renouncing all earthly attachment and devoting himself entirely to a spiritual life.
When his religious community fell apart in the 1980’s he found himself landing with a thump back into the material world. He had no career, no prospects and no job but being mathematically inclined he was drawn into the Wild West days of the internet and web site development. His business took off through his knowledge of search engine optimisation and cookie technology in which he specialised. This skill in tracking codes and data across multiple platforms served him well in his most recent reincarnation – tracking share trades and traders.
“In 2017 I got sucked into a stock, because of the gossip on HotCopper. Then I got my brother onto it and I felt bad so I had to bail him out. It led me to start tweeting about how these guys in HotCopper were all the same guys spruiking the same stock, at the same time. It was just too much of a coincidence. I started to identify them. I started to work out who they were and that they were connected closely to a broker or a sophisticated investor.”
“I am still a Swami morally, so felt an obligation to say something as I saw it was not right.”
His experience in exposing the identities of online stock spruikers set him on a path that came to dominate his life. “From 2017 I started calling them out and naming them. Exposing them really. They were sophisticated investors so they’d get the stock low at a capital raise then they would pump it at the same time. I exposed brokers, directors, sophisticated investors, all pumping incognito on social media and stock forums. They would stop posting once I identified them. It’s amazing. Once people know who you are they see the conflict of interest but when you’re anonymous and don’t disclose who you are, it just sucks people in like it sucked me in. Had I known how controversial it was all going to become I should have remained anonymous myself.”
His public interest journalism made him one of the most vocal figures pressing ASIC and the ASX to crack down on the artificial pumping of stocks on social media. A campaign that has paid off in recent years. “My biggest complaint was how they let companies make ramping announcements that were just designed to push up the share price. Now the ASX have a ramping rule. What annoys me is sometimes I feel the horse racing industry is better regulated than the stock market. They ban people from the racetrack, but ASIC have trouble banning anyone. When you’re a mum and dad investor and you’ve earned your money honestly, you expect companies, especially ones that are regulated to be doing the same and giving it their best.”
Despite his public agitation and his impact Davison has maintained a low personal profile. “I’m not comfortable talking about my life. I’m still a Swami, we sort of renounce our activities or any benefit from them. I gain nothing from this and I see it genuinely as a public service.”
His research has earnt him some powerful enemies but Davison remains unfazed. “It is just my philosophy about a greater good. I hope we can get the message that I want across. Hopefully it will advance the conversation. If I have to pay through the nose for it, well that’s my karma. I don’t mind”.