This morning we let you know about a 17-year-old financial dynamo named Mohammed Islam who, according to a story in New York Magazine, had made $72 million on the stock market. This afternoon… not so much.
Islam distanced himself from the $72 million figure in a pre-interview with CNBC’s Halftime Report before he decided to cancel his appearance on the show altogether, telling CNBC’s Scott Wampler that, “The attention is not what we expected – we never wanted the hype. This was about friends trying to make something exciting together.” He also added, “The way we were portrayed is not who we are.”
It’s hard to imagine the seismic shift in the life of this kid from yesterday to today. It’s hard to realize, I suppose, how quickly a kernel of information can turn into something that inspires a flood. It’ll give you whiplash.
Even though he’s in the spotlight, Islam isn’t alone in this. As he said, the story was about “friends trying to make something together,” and one of those friends was also answering questions earlier today when Business Insider reached out to Damir Tulemaganbetov, who is one of Islam’s partners. According to Business Insider, Tulemaganbetov said that the $72 million figure was “stated as a rumor.”
Business Insider says that when they “asked for audited numbers or profit-and-loss statements to prove that Islam’s net worth is close to $72 million,” Tulemaganbetov refused. They also say that Tulemaganbetov “would not be that clear in his conversation with Business Insider,” before offering up this quote from him.
“We can’t just talk about the numbers. It’s not just about the money,” Tulemaganbetov said. “We’re on the verge of a lot of great things in our lives so we can’t just focus on providing you the statements. We’re on the verge of a lot of great things. We are going to talk to CNBC.”
We know how that turned out.
As for New York Magazine, they’re sticking by their story in a statement to NBC, but they did change their headline.
“The article portrays the $72 million figure only as a rumor; we changed the headline on the story to reflect more clearly the fact that we did not know the exact figure of how much he had made in trades. The story itself does not specify an amount. However, Mohammed provided bank statements that showed he is worth eight figures; he confirmed on the record that he’s worth eight figures,”
So there, all settled? Probably not. This is a mess, but the bottom line is that New York Magazine says that they saw a bank statement that verified that Islam is worth eight figures, so whether the 17-year-old is worth $72 million or whether he’s worth $10 million, it’s still an impressive feat when viewed by regular folk. Within the business world, though, hype can have consequences, so it’s a good thing that this rumor got quashed as quickly as it did, and it’s probably a reminder to New York Magazine to be a bit more cautious.