The popular Wall Street blog Zero Hedge, whose motto is a quote from Fight Club and whose editorial output is entertainingly prone to populist conspiracy theorizing, is unique among financial news outlets in that its contributors publish under a single alias, “Tyler Durden,” the name of one of Fight Club’s main characters. The real world identities behind the blog have inspired speculation for years, but today Bloomberg News seems to have finally nailed them down:
Colin Lokey, also known as “Tyler Durden,” is breaking the first rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club. ... Following an acrimonious departure this month, in which two-thirds of [ZeroHedge’s three writers] traded allegations of hypocrisy and mental instability, Lokey, 32, decided to unmask himself and his fellow Durdens. Lokey said the other two men are Daniel Ivandjiiski, 37, the Bulgarian-born former analyst long reputed to be behind the site, and Tim Backshall, 45, a well-known credit derivatives strategist.
The “allegations of hypocrisy” apparently stemmed from the fact that, although each of these men wrote for a website that purports to speak for voiceless individuals struggling under the domination of global capitalism, all three men’s Zero Hedge salaries were in fact pretty sweet, and maintaining the cash flow required chasing web traffic:
Lokey said he joined Zero Hedge for $6,000 a month and received an annual bonus of $50,000, earning more than $100,000 last year. His salary helped pay the rent on a “very nice” condominium on South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, he said. Despite the compensation, he contends that he left because he disagreed with the site’s editorial vision. “Reality checks are great. But Zero Hedge ceased to serve that public service years ago,” Lokey wrote. “They care what generates page views. Clicks. Money.”
Unsurprisingly, Zero Hedge responded to Bloomberg’s report in a post titled “The Full Story Behind Bloomberg’s Attempt To ‘Unmask’ Zero Hedge,” which is as drama-laden as its headline’s unnecessary quotation marks would suggest:
Zero Hedge hired Colin when he approached us over a year ago begging for a job after he was fired with cause from Seeking Alpha [a stock market insights site] following a fight with a coworker. This should have set off alarm flags but we ignored it. ... Colin had no qualms with capitalism when he accepted the money he was paid: as Bloomberg wrote, “his salary helped pay the rent on a “very nice” condominium on South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island.” Perhaps he should have refused any compensation to demonstrate his allegiance to some “anticapitalist” cause? More importantly, and unfortunately, Colin also was revealed to be an emotionally unstable, psychologically troubled alcoholic with a drug dealer past, as per his own disclosures.
The rest of the breathtakingly long post features screenshots of increasingly contentious iMessage conversations (including one that appears to be a death threat), a chart illustrating the blog’s web traffic, and sentences like, “We wanted to help Colin, but not even he had any idea how to help himself.” Blog drama is the best drama because it is the messiest drama in the world.