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Meet the Wall Street analyst the big media companies love to hate

Like the best reality TV contestants, BTIG’s Rich Greenfield says he’s not here to make friends.

BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield Courtesy Rich Greenfield

When you Google BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield, one of the first hits is a 2016 column from the Hollywood Reporter, tarring him as “Often Quoted ... and Often Wrong.”

Greenfield is okay with having haters in Hollywood and much of the big-media landscape. As a vocal critic of some of the biggest names in the movie and TV business, and a booster of disruptive new tech companies, he’s used to it.

“Nobody ever likes when you criticize what they’re doing,” he said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “I think some companies are far better at handling criticism than others. Every company is welcome to their own way of running their business, but we’re not going to stop doing what we do.”

One of his key causes at BTIG has been raising the alarm about Disney and other traditional content creators as they try to fend off the internet and deep-pocketed new rivals such as Netflix and Amazon.

“We put a ‘sell’ on Disney at $111.50 back in December of ’15,” he said. “People thought we were crazy, we got death threats. And Disney’s still trading below that level. So despite a massive positive move in the market, being negative on Disney has either saved our clients substantial money, if they’re long-only, if they can only buy stocks; if they can short stocks, this has been a tremendous relative under-performer.”

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On the new podcast, Greenfield stressed that being ‘loud’ is necessary in his line of work — and not just when he and his colleagues are right.

“You need to be just as bold and loud in admitting your mistakes as you are in talking about your successes,” he said. “We’re very happy to say, ‘We were wrong.’ Zynga’s a great example: We really saw something in gaming. We were absolutely wrong. And we came out and said it. It was a mistake.”

The goal at the end of the day for BTIG, he said, is not antagonizing companies like Disney, but making money for clients. And if that means a few public missteps or hurt feelings along the way, then too bad: That comes with the territory.

“Our goal is not to make friends, our goal is to be right,” Greenfield said. “We kind of walk around with a bullseye on our back every single day: ‘Here’s what we think.’ We’re going to live or die by what we write and we take pretty passionate positions.”

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