Robinhood buys Say Technologies for $140M to improve shareholder-company relations

U.S. consumer investing and trading service Robinhood announced this morning that it will acquire Say Technologies in a $140 million cash deal.

Say Technologies is a venture-backed startup, having raised $8 million in 2018, per Crunchbase data. PitchBook data indicates that the company was worth $28 million on a post-money basis following the investment, implying that the company’s backers managed a roughly 5x return on their investment.

Say was backed by Point72 Ventures, among other investors.

The deal is notable because it is Robinhood’s first major purchase since going public in late July, and because it illustrates where Robinhood may look to invest some of its newly liquid equity wealth; when a company goes public, it can more easily purchase other companies thanks to recharged cash balances and a floating stock.

In a blog post, Robinhood wrote that “Say was built on the belief that everyone should have the same access to the financial markets as Wall Street insiders.” What does that mean? In practice, Say has built a communications platform that allows even smaller shareholders to pose questions to the companies in which they invest. Sure, some companies are including retail questions in their earnings calls, but what Say has in mind is broader.

You can see how Say and Robinhood might fit together. Robinhood has a huge user pool of retail investors who like to trade and invest. Say has the technology to connect retail investors to the companies that they own. With Robinhood’s database of which retail investor owns what, and Say’s communications tech, the trading platform may be able to offer a better shareholder experience than what rival platforms can offer.

By offering a service like what Say has built to its user base, Robinhood can offer a unique twist on retail investing. This feels somewhat analogous to Spotify spending heavily to procure exclusive rights to certain podcasts; such efforts differentiate Spotify from rivals despite having a commoditized core offering. Trading is now free in many places, so Robinhood layering specialized services on top of its investing service makes good sense, perhaps helping drive user loyalty and net new-user adds.

Shares of Robinhood are off around 1.2% today, despite generally higher markets. We might say that investors were selling lightly in wake of the news, but that would be a somewhat bold read of the day’s trading.

#crunchbase, #finance, #fundings-exits, #pitchbook-data, #robinhood, #tc

Robinhood is now a stonk

Update: Trading of Robinhood shares has been halted due to volatility. The company’s stock paused at $65.60 on Robinhood itself. Yahoo Finance has a higher $77.03 price on the company’s equity, up a stunning 64.59% today. Things are fluid, but Robinhood may have been halted and then rose again when it resumed trading. Stonks indeed.

Shares of Robinhood, an investing-focused consumer fintech company, soared this morning in pre-market trading. The stonk phenomenon, which helped propel minor companies like GameStop and AMC earlier this year, appears to be impacting Robinhood’s own stock; that much GameStop and AMC trading took place on Robinhood’s platform during stonk-fever is irony not lost on this publication.

Here’s what things look like this morning, per Yahoo Finance:

Recall that Robinhood went public at $38 per share, the low end of its range, and sank in its early trading sessions to below its IPO price. Now, it’s worth $54 per share.

Cool.

Normally we’d crack a joke and close this small news item here, but with Robinhood’s IPO featuring a unique twist on the traditional public offering, we have to do a bit more work. When it went public, Robinhood reserved a chunk of its equity for purchase by its own users. The impact of this was that more retail investors likely owned Robinhood equity at the start of its trading life than would be normal with a traditional IPO.

One hypothesis regarding Robinhood’s somewhat slack early trading performance was that early retail demand for its shares was sated by its effort to allow its users to buy stock in its shares, leading to a less-skewed supply/demand curve when it debuted.

Things have changed. What’s going on? Last week, an analyst put a $65 per share price target on the stock. And there are a handful of other ratings to chew on. But the wild swing in the price of Robinhood today appears from our vantage point to be another stonk moment. The stock is being traded like a short-squeeze, even if some market participants are skeptical of the idea due to what they view as a limited short interest in the company.

Checking the Robinhood IR page, there’s no news. Robinhood did not recently report earnings. And the company’s recent 606 filings that deal with PFOF incomes seemed to match up with expectations in revenue terms regarding what the company detailed in its Q2 2021 flash numbers. Perhaps there was more crypto in there than expected, but nothing truly wild.

It appears that Robinhood is simply going up because it is. This happens in 2021; we just have to get used to it.

But what matters most for our purposes is that Robinhood’s decision to sell some IPO stock to its users did not manage to create so much float for the now-public unicorn to diminish weird trading. You can go public in an unusual manner and still catch a stonk wave. Now we know.

#fundings-exits, #gamestop, #initial-public-offering, #pfof, #robinhood, #startups, #stock-market, #yahoo

Extra Crunch roundup: Square buys Afterpay, paid search basics, career advice for devs

Square paid around a quarter of its present-day value for Afterpay, Alex Wilhelm notes in The Exchange. That seems like a lot. But was it too much?

“Afterpay brings global revenues, global users and a more diverse merchant network to Square,” Alex notes. “It would have had to spend to derive those assets over time. Square is willing to pay up to snag them now.”

Dana Stalder, a partner at Matrix Partners and Afterpay’s only institutional investor, describes the deal as part of a recurring “critical innovation cycle” in fintech that “determines the winners and losers” for decades to come.

“I’ve never seen a combination that has such potential to deliver extraordinary value to consumers and merchants,” says Stalder. “Even more so than eBay + PayPal.”

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

The best way to grow your career? Treat it like an app

Decision making: Wooden figurine thinking about the path to take to reach the target

Image Credits: jayk7 (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Developers may delight in solving complex technical problems, but the problem of a career path is one many don’t think much about, Juniper Networks CTO Raj Yavatkar writes in a guest column.

He offers a solution that should appeal to developers and engineers: “​​Treat career advancement as you would a software project.”

Design expert Scott Tong outlines 4 concepts founders should consider when designing products

Scott Tong

Image Credits: Scott Tong

At Early Stage 2021, design expert Scott Tong shared some ways founders should think about design and branding.

If you can link your brand with your company’s reputation, I think it’s a really great place to start when you’re having conversations about brands. What is the first impression? What are the consistent behaviors that your brand hopes to repeat over and over? What are the memorable moments that stand out and make your brand, your reputation memorable?

You can’t afford to make poor decisions about incentive stock options

Image of a piggy bank, clock, and calculator on blue and yellow background to represent financial advice.

Image Credits: Nora Carol Photography (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

If you’re fortunate enough to be considering cashing in on vested stock options, this guest column is worth a read.

“Most companies admit they need to be better at explaining how ISOs work in general, but they can’t legally work one-on-one with employees to help them exercise and sell shares the right way,” Wealthramp’s Pam Krueger and John Chapman write.

“That’s why, when the time is right, many employees actively look for help from a qualified fiduciary financial adviser who can walk these could-be ‘options millionaires’ through various cash-in scenarios.”

Demand Curve: Questions you need to answer in your paid search ads

Retail and technology. Retail as a Service.

Image Credits: metamorworks (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

At some point, almost every early-stage startup will use paid search ads to connect with customers and throw down the gauntlet with their competitors.

Most of these initial attempts at paid search are unsuccessful. There’s a steep learning curve when it comes to transforming passive searchers into paying customers, and almost no one gets it right the first time.

In a comprehensive guest post, growth marketing expert Stewart Hillhouse identified “14 questions your paid search should answer to ensure you’re only paying for the highest-intent shoppers.”

Question 1? “What’s in it for me?”

5 lessons from Duolingo’s bellwether edtech IPO of the year

Image Credits: Duolingo

Duolingo’s debut last week was a bright spot, Alex Wilhelm and Natasha Mascarenhas write, with the language learning app’s stock price landing above a raised IPO range.

Alex and Natasha detail five lessons to take from Duolingo’s flotation:

  1. The IPO event will bring “more sophistication” to Duolingo’s core service.
  2. Roadshow investors didn’t view Duolingo as an edtech company.
  3. China’s edtech crackdown will have a “neutral” impact on Duolingo.
  4. In certain cases, post-COVID growth declines aren’t lethal.
  5. Growth can still absolve rising losses.

Can your startup support a research-based workflow?

Artificial Intelligence Brain

Image Credits: Andriy Onufriyenko (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In the U.S. alone, yearly spending on AI R&D is expected to reach $100 billion by 2025.

But can your humble startup attract and retain users while it conducts research and product development?

“For obvious reasons, companies want to make things that matter to their customers, investors and stakeholders. Ideally, there’s a way to do both,” says João Graça, CTO and co-founder of Unbabel, an AI-powered language operations platform.

Kodiak Robotics’ founder says tight focus on autonomous trucks is working

don-burnette-founder-kodiak

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

As part of an ongoing series with transportation startup founders, Rebecca Bellan interviews Kodiak Robotics CEO and co-founder Don Burnette about why the autonomous trucking company remains private when so many of its rivals have gone public.

“I think there’s also lots of opportunity within the VCs and the private markets,” said Burnette.

“Kodiak is one of the only remaining serious AV trucking companies still in the private sector, and so I think that gives us some advantages in a lot of ways.”

How public markets can help address venture capital’s limitations

After interviewing Draper Esprit co-founder Stuart Chapman, Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim took a look at the trend of European VCs floating themselves.

Traditional VC models “can foist artificial time constraints on investors and force them to focus their deal flow into particular stages for fund-construction reasons,” Alex and Anna write for The Exchange.

“As we found out researching this piece, the public venture model highlights some of these limitations — and may be able to alleviate them in part.”

Robinhood’s CFO says it was ready to go public

After Robinhood failed to burn up the stock charts, Alex Wilhelm wondered why, exactly, the investing and trading app’s IPO didn’t live up to expectations.

He spoke to Robinhood CFO Jason Warnick, who shared a few reasons why it was time for the company to float:

… Warnick indicated that there were a few factors at play, including that Robinhood had built out its leadership team and its internal processes, and that it had worked on user-safety-related tasks and expanded the site’s use cases. All of that is true.

#afterpay, #don-burnette, #draper-esprit, #duolingo, #ec-roundup, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #growth-marketing, #jason-warnick, #kodiak-robotics, #robinhood, #scott-tong, #startups, #stuart-chapman, #tc, #transportation, #unbabel, #venture-capital, #verified-experts

Growth is not enough

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

We were a smaller team this week, with Natasha and Alex together with Grace and Chris to sort through a week that brought together both this quarter’s earnings cycle, and the Q3 IPO rush. So, it was just a little busy!

Before we get to topics, however, a note that we are having a lot of fun recording these live on Twitter Spaces. We’ve found a hacky way to capture local audio and also share the chats live. So, hit us up on Twitter so you can hang out with us. It’s fun – and we may even bring you up on stage to play guest host.

Ok, now, to the Great List of Subjects:

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#alphabet, #ascap, #class, #contentful, #earnings, #electric-vehicles, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fundings-exits, #lordstown-motors, #microsoft, #oova, #peppy, #redwood-materials, #robinhood, #robinhood-ipo, #shopify, #softbank, #squire, #startups, #tesla, #tiger-global

Robinhood’s stock drops 8% in its first day’s trading

Robinhood priced its public offering at $38 per share last night, the low end of its IPO range. The company was worth around $32 billion at that price.

But once the U.S. consumer investing and trading app began to allow investors to trade its shares, they went down sharply, off more than 10% in the first hours of its life as a floating stock. Robinhood recovered some in later trading, but closed the day worth $34.82 per share, off 8.37%, per Yahoo Finance.

The company sold 55,000,000 shares in its IPO, generating gross proceeds of $2.1 billion, though that figure may rise if its underwriting banks purchase their available options. Regardless, the company is now well-capitalized to chart its future according to its own wishes.

So, why did the stock go down? Given the hungry furor we’ve seen around many big-brand, consumer-facing tech companies in the last year, you might be surprised that Robinhood didn’t close the day up 80%, or something similar. After all, DoorDash and Airbnb had huge debuts.

Thinking out loud, a few things could be at play:

  • Robinhood made a big chunk of its IPO available to its own users. Or, in practice, Robinhood curtailed early retail demand by offering its investors and traders shares at the same price and level of access that big investors were given. It’s a neat idea. But by doing so, Robinhood may have lowered unserved retail interest in its shares, perhaps reshaping its early supply/demand curve.
  • Or maybe the company’s warnings that its trading volumes could decline in Q2 2021 scared off some bulls.

Regardless, in the stonk and meme-stock era, Robinhood’s somewhat downward debut is a bit of a puzzler. More as the company’s stock finds its footing and we dig more deeply into investor sentiment regarding its future performance.

We have more coming on the company’s debut, including notes from an interview with the company’s CFO about its IPO coming tomorrow morning on Extra Crunch

#fundings-exits, #initial-public-offering, #robinhood, #startups, #stock, #stock-market, #united-states

Lucid Motors’ SPAC merger approved after executives issue plea to shareholders to vote

Shareholders approved Friday EV startup Lucid Motors’ merger with special purpose acquisition company Churchill Capital IV, after the companies extended the deadline by one day because not enough retail investors showed up to cast their vote.

The issue is an unusual but could become more common as more companies eschew the traditional IPO path to public markets and instead merge with SPACs. 

The issue came on Thursday, when shareholders voted to approve all but one of the proposals as part of the merger — proposal two, which would revise the company’s charter so that Lucid could receive key financing. That proposal requires a higher number of votes than the others – and it must be approved for the merger to take place – so a lack of votes ended up halting the entire process.

The lack of shareholders was blamed on retail investors’ unfamiliarity with the SPAC process and, unbelievably spam.

Churchill chairman Michael Klein raised the possibility that some of the emails sent to shareholders were accidentally sent to voters’ spam folders. While it may seem incredible that something as low-tech as a Gmail spam filter might interrupt a multi-billion dollar business merger, it seems that may have occurred in this case.

“We simply need more votes,” Klein said on an investor call Thursday. Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson was also direct: “I need you to vote for proposal two.”

“We recognize that for many of you, this voting process may be new or not standard,” Klein continued. He later thanked the many individual shareholders but urged those “participating from the new platforms, the new apps,” to vote. “They may not necessarily the directing you clearly to the voting service.”

The number of amateur or so-called “retail traders” has exploded since the start of the pandemic, largely thanks to apps like Robinhood, which leverages gamification strategies to encourage users to buy and sell stocks from anywhere. The pinnacle of this phenomenon will likely be remembered by history in the explosive rise in prices of stocks for failing companies like GameStop and AMC entertainment, engineered by an army of retail traders on the subreddit r/wallstreetbets. Retail investors account for around 10% of the U.S. equity trading volume, according to a report from Morgan Stanley, down from a high of 15% last September.

But if the rise in the price of meme stocks shows us anything, it’s that retail traders are a powerful force. The Morgan Stanley report notes that “retail investors tend to prefer companies in sectors they are likely to be familiar with as consumers, such as Consumer Discretionary, Communication Services, and Technology.” This could be why the Churchill SPAC was high on many retail investors’ radars.

In a highly-awarded post on the subreddit r/SPACs, a Reddit user urgers new retail shareholders to participate in voting: “This is not normal. SPACs have never had to beg shareholders to act in their own best interest before.

You MUST vote. A non-vote does NOT count as a YES. A non-vote is just a non-vote.”

While Lucid’s merger hold-up is a very different scenario than that of meme stock trading, it’s yet another reminder that retail investors are continuing to shape markets.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #lucid-motors, #private-equity, #robinhood, #spac-merger, #spacs, #transportation

Equity Monday: Zoom buys Five9 as Robinhood sets IPO price range

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.

It was a big damn morning, so we had to cut some stuff. Here’s what we got into:

  • Stocks and cryptos are off this morning, as inflation and COVID-19 concerns rise.
  • Zoom is buying Five9. The deal is not super expensive, nor is it cheap. But given the huge percentage of Zoom’s market cap that it represents, it’s a serious wager from the video conferencing startup.
  • Carlyle is buying LiveU for around $400 million. TechCrunch broke this news. The deal shows that private equity interest in startups that aren’t unicorns.
  • Robinhood dropped a new SEC filing this morning! That means we have a price range and valuation target to play with. More from TechCrunch on the matter shortly.
  • From India: A huge round for Lenskart, and a big Series A for GlobalBees.
  • And we covered this round from Nigeria. A smaller transaction, but one that could prove to be quite neat, we reckon.

Ok! Chat Wednesday!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#carlyle, #chaka, #crypto, #cryptocurrency, #equity, #equity-podcast, #five9, #fundings-exits, #globalbees, #india, #lenskart, #liveu, #nigeria, #public-market, #robinhood, #robinhood-ipo, #startups, #zoom

Extra Crunch roundup: CEO Twitter etiquette, lifting click-through rates, edtech avalanche

Yesterday, China ordered ride-hailing company Didi to stop signing up new customers after regulators announced a cybersecurity review of the company’s operations.

As of this writing, Didi’s stock price is down 5.3%. In today’s edition of The Exchange, Alex Wilhelm suggested that the move wasn’t a complete surprise, but it still “puts a bad taste in our mouths,” since the company went public days ago.


Full Extra Crunch articles are only available to members.
Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription.


When Didi filed to go public, it listed several potential pitfalls facing Chinese companies that go public in the U.S., including “numerous legal and regulatory risks” and “extensive government regulation and oversight in its F-1.”

What does this news signify for other Chinese companies that are hoping for stateside IPOs?

We’ll be off on Monday, July 5 in observance of Independence Day. Thanks very much for reading, and I hope you have an excellent weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

3 guiding principles for CEOs who post on Twitter

Did you hear about the CEO who made misleading claims about a funding round and got sued? How about that pharmaceutical executive whose taunts to a former Secretary of State led to a 4.4% decline in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index?

In case it isn’t clear: Startup executives are held to a higher standard when it comes to what they post on social media.

“Reputation and goodwill take a long time to build and are difficult to maintain, but it only takes one tweet to destroy it all,” says Lisa W. Liu, a senior partner at The Mitzel Group, a San Francisco-based law practice that serves many startups.

To help her clients (and Extra Crunch readers) Liu has six basic questions for tech execs with itchy Twitter fingers.

And if the answer to any of them is “I don’t know,” don’t post.

The 2021 edtech avalanche has just begun

A report from Brighteye Ventures on Europe’s edtech scene shows that this year’s deal flow is on pace to meet or surpass 2020, when remote instruction exploded.

According to Brighteye’s head of Research, Rhys Spence, the average deal size is now $9.4 million, a threefold increase from last year. Still, “It’s interesting that we are not seeing enormous increases in deal count,” he noted.

How Robinhood’s explosive growth rate came to be

jagged line written by robinhood quill logo on graph background

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Trading platform Robinhood has attracted enough users and activity to change the conversation around retail investing — economists will likely be discussing the 2021 GameStop saga for years to come.

After the company filed to go public yesterday, Alex Wilhelm sorted through Robinhood’s main income statement to better understand how it scaled year-ago revenue from $127.6 million to $522.2 million in Q1.

“Those are numbers that we frankly do not see often amongst companies going public,” says Alex. “300% growth is a pre-Series A metric, usually.”

So: where is all that revenue coming from?

As EU venture capital soars, will the region retain future IPOs?

Given the valuation gap between U.S. tech markets and those overseas, it’s easy to see why some foreign startups would head to our shores when it’s time to go public.

But Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm found that a record increase in European venture capital activity is picking up the pace of IPOs this year, and many of these companies are content to go public in their native markets.

To gain some insight into where European investors believe they have an advantage, Anna and Alex interviewed:

  • Franck Sebag, partner, EY
  • David Miranda, partner, Osborne Clarke Spain
  • Yoram Wijngaarde, founder and CEO, Dealroom

How VCs can get the most out of co-investing alongside LPs

A red and a green shoe tied together

Image Credits: Diana Ilieva (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In a recent private equity survey, 80% of respondents said their co-investments with people outside traditional VC firms outperformed their PE fund investments.

Alternative investors are highly motivated, and because they’re seeking higher returns than are generally available in public markets, they are less daunted by risk. In return, they benefit from less expensive fee structures and develop close ties with VCs, enlarging the talent pool as they build investment skills.

These relationships have direct benefits for VCs as well, such as more flexibility with diversification and consolidated decision-making power.

“With the right deal structure, deal selection and deal investigation, co-investors can significantly increase their returns,” says C5 Capital Managing Partner William Kilmer, who wrote an Extra Crunch post for VCs considering an alternative path.

Dear Sophie: How can I bring my parents and sister to the U.S.?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

My husband and I are both U.S. permanent residents.

Given what we’ve gone through this past year being isolated from loved ones during the pandemic, we’d like to bring my parents and my sister to the U.S. to be close to our family and help out with our children.

Is that possible?

— Symbiotic in Sunnyvale

How to cut through the promotional haze and select a digital building platform

Modern city buildings on a printed circuits board. Digital illustration.

Image Credits: Andreus (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Smart-building products include everything from connecting landlords with tenants to managing construction sites.

Given their widespread impact on the enterprise — and the novel nature of much of this new technology, selecting the right digital building platform (DBP) is a challenge for most organizations.

Brian Turner, LEED-AP BD&C, has created a matrix intended to help decision-makers identify the fundamental functions and desired outcomes for stakeholders.

“When it comes to the built environment, creating those comfortable, healthy and enjoyable places requires new tools,” says Turner. “Selecting a solid DBP is one of the most important decisions to be made.”

Demand Curve: 7 ad types that increase click-through rates

Use these seven ad types to improve CTR

Image Credits: Octavian Iolu / EyeEm (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

One perennial problem inside startups: Because no one on the founding team has significant marketing experience, growth-related efforts are pro forma and generally unlikely to move the needle.

Everyone wants higher click-through rates, but creating ads that “stand out” is a risky strategy, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing. This guest post by Demand Curve offers seven strategies for boosting CTR that you can clone and deploy today inside your own startup.

Here’s one: If customers are talking about you online, reach out to ask if you can add a screenshot of their reviews to your advertising. Testimonials are a form of social proof that boost conversions, and they’re particularly effective when used in retargeting ads.

Earlier this week, we ran another post about optimizing email marketing for early-stage startups.

We’ll have more expert growth advice coming soon, so stay tuned.

To guard against data loss and misuse, the cybersecurity conversation must evolve

Locking down data centers and networks against intruders is just one aspect of an organization’s security responsibilities; cloud services, collaboration tools and APIs extend security perimeters even farther. What’s more, the systems created to prevent the misuse and mishandling of sensitive data often depend heavily on someone’s better angels.

According to Sid Trivedi, a partner at Foundation Capital, and seven-time CIO Mark Settle, IT managers need to replace existing DLP frameworks with a new one that centers on DMP — data misuse protection.

These solutions “will provide data assets with more sophisticated self-defense mechanisms instead of relying on the surveillance of traditional security perimeters,” and many startups are already competing in this space.

#didi, #extra-crunch-roundup, #growth-marketing, #immigration-law, #proptech, #real-estate, #robinhood, #security, #social, #startups, #venture-capital

California has no water and lots of liquidity

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Danny, Natasha, and Alex were on-deck this week, with Grace on the recording and edit. But, if you want to hear more about Robinhood, this is not the episode for you. If you want to learn more about the consumer fintech company’s IPO filing this is the episode you want. Basically, Robinhood filed after we had wrapped taping, so we had to do a special pod for the news.

So, this is the everything-but-Robinhood episode. And here’s what’s inside of it:

A four-episode week! With only Grace handling production! She’s amazing.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#acceleprise, #articulate, #bessemer, #brave, #china, #daylight, #didi, #duolingo, #edtech, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fintech, #forum-ventures, #fundings-exits, #hinge-health, #ipo, #neeva, #peanut, #robinhood, #search, #sentinelone, #startups, #tc, #zipline

How Robinhood’s explosive growth rate came to be

This afternoon Robinhood filed to go public. TechCrunch’s first look at its results can be found here. Now that we’ve done a first dig, we can take the time to dive into the company’s filing more deeply.

Robinhood’s IPO has long been anticipated not only because there are billions of dollars in capital riding on its impending liquidity, but also because the company became something of a poster child for the savings and investing boom that 2020 saw and the COVID-19 pandemic helped engender.

The consumer trading service’s products became so popular and enmeshed in popular culture thanks to both the “stonks” movement and the larger GameStop brouhaha, that the company’s public offering carries much more weight than that of a more regular venture-backed entity. Robinhood has fans, haters, and many an observer in Congress.

Regardless of all that, today we are digging into the company’s business and financial results. So, if you want to better understand how Robinhood makes money, and how profitable or not it really is, this is for you.

We will start with a more in-depth look at growth and profitability, pivot to learning about the company’s revenue makeup, discuss a risk factor or two, and close on its decision to offer some of its own shares to its users. Let’s go!

Inside Robinhood’s growth engine

Before we get into the how of Robinhood’s growth, let’s discuss how big the company has become.

The fintech unicorn’s revenue grew from $277.5 million in 2019 to $958.8 million in 2020, which works out to growth of around 245%. Robinhood expanded even more quickly in the first quarter of 2021, scaling from year-ago revenue of $127.6 million to $522.2 million, a gain of around 309%.

Those are numbers that we frankly do not see often amongst companies going public; 300% growth is a pre-Series A metric, usually.

#dogecoin, #ec-fintech, #finance, #fundings-exits, #gamestop, #revenue, #robinhood, #short-selling, #startups, #tc

Robinhood is going public and we’re very excited

It’s a sweltering day here in New York City, and that means Wall Street is on fire, and so is Robinhood, apparently. The popular stock trading app officially filed its Form S-1 with the SEC a few hours ago to go public, where it will trade under the ticker “HOOD.”

The Equity crew has been yammering about Robinhood for years now, and we have been chomping on the bit to see those S-1 results for what feels like ages. Well, we finally got the numbers, we chomped that bit (or at least Alex and Danny did, since Natasha went on vacation about 15 minutes before the IPO hit the wires), and so here’s a special Equity Shot to talk about all the highlights.

We talked about so much in an itsy-bitsy 15-minute episode: crazy revenue growth, crazy revenue concentration from two major sources, regulatory hurdles that the company has been clearing up, better financials with a bit of nuance on the company’s Q1 finances, and the company’s special plan for its IPO.

Wowza.

Here’s what we got up to:

  • Historical growth and profitability.
  • Revenue mix and revenue concentration, along with constituent concerns.
  • The importance of options-related incomes for the company.
  • Dogecoin.
  • Why the company’s adjusted income may help it assuage investors who have their eyes pop out of their skulls when they see its GAAP Q1 2021 results.

And a lot more. Of course, if you hate Robinhood, we will be back with our normally-scheduled Friday episode of Equity tomorrow.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#crypto, #dogecoin, #equity-podcast, #exit, #finance, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #podcasts, #robinhood, #s-1, #sec, #startups

Robinhood files to go public after squeaking to profitability in 2020

This afternoon Robinhood, the popular investing app for consumers filed to go public. The company intends to list on the NASDAQ under the symbol “HOOD.”

That Robinhood released an S-1 filing today is not a surprise. The company privately filed to go public back in March, leaving the startup-watching world waiting for the eventual filing drop. Robinhood’s public offering document includes a placeholder $100 million raise figure, though that will change the closer we get to its debut.

The company is pursuing a public listing after a period of rapid growth. Robinhood saw its revenues soar from $277.5 million in 2019 to $985.8 million in 2020.

The company’s first-quarter numbers are even more impressive. During the first three months of 2021, Robinhood generated revenues of $522.2 million, up around four times from its Q1 2020 result of $127.6 million. TechCrunch expected Robinhood to post a strong first quarter based on previous filings relating to its payment-for-order-flow (PFOF) business.

Notably, Robinhood was profitable in 2020, generating net income of around $7.4 million during the one-year period. However, the company’s most recent period includes an epic $1.49 billion cost relating to “change[s] in fair value of convertible notes and warrant liability,” leading the company to post an astronomical net loss of $1.44 billion in the first quarter of the year. That compares with a net loss of $107 million for 2019.

For the three-month period ended March 31, Robinhood posted $463.8 million in operating expenses, inclusive of “brokerage and transaction” costs. The company’s business then, apart from its fair-value changes, had a good start to the year in profitability terms.

That Robinhood closed the first quarter of 2021 on a more than $2 billion annual run rate is notable; the firm has quickly scaled to mammoth size on the back of rising consumer interest in investing in both stocks and cryptocurrencies.

Robinhood has proved to be a lightning rod for oversight, fines, mass usage and culture in the last year. And it raised billions this year after running into operational issues regarding trading of certain stocks that retail investors found particularly appealing.

Turning to investor results, DST Global, Index Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Ribbit capital are listed as shareholders with more than 5% of the company apiece, though certain information in the S-1 filing is yet to be included, including share counts for most of those groups. DST’s 58,102,765 Class A shares, however, are listed.

Robinhood has three classes of shares, including Class A shares with one vote, Class B shares with 10, and Class C shares with none.

TechCrunch is parsing the S-1 and will have more in a following piece. 

 

#california, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #new-enterprise-associates, #ribbit-capital, #robinhood, #short-selling, #startups, #techcrunch

Robinhood ordered to pay $70m penalty to US regulator

Robinhood ordered to pay $70m penalty to US regulator

Enlarge

A Wall Street regulator has ordered the retail trading platform Robinhood to pay more than $70m in penalties for causing what it described as “widespread and significant” harm to its customers.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) announced on Wednesday that it was fining Robinhood $57m and ordering it to pay $12.6m plus interest in restitution to its customers—the largest penalty ever ordered by the regulator.

Among a litany of failures alleged by Finra, widespread technical problems on the platform during periods of high volatility cost some traders tens of thousands of dollars, it said.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#biz-it, #robinhood

Optimism reigns at consumer trading services as fintech VC spikes and Robinhood IPO looms

With the Coinbase direct listing behind us and the Robinhood IPO ahead, it’s a heady time for consumer-focused trading apps.

Mix in the impending SPAC-led debut of eToro, general bullishness in the cryptocurrency space, record highs for some equities markets, and recent rounds from Public.com, M1 Finance and U.K.-based Freetrade, and you could be excused for expecting the boom in consumer asset trading to keep going up and to the right.

But will it? There are data in both directions. While recent information could indicate that some of the most lucrative trading activity at companies like Robinhood could be slowing, there’s also encouraging app download information that paints a more bullish picture regarding the durability of the boom in consumer interest regarding savings and investing, which The Exchange has had an eye on for some time.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Our question today is this: How bullish are companies in the space about continued consumer interest in equities and other asset trading? And why? We’ll also put similar questions to their backers.

We’ve compiled notes from Accel’s Sameer Gandhi about views concerning Public as one of its backers and Index’s Jan Hammer about Robinhood and its market, as well as comments from Public.com and M1 Finance about what they see regarding consumer trading interest in the future. Thoughts from Robert Le, PitchBook’s senior emerging technology analyst, cap things off.

We’ll start with a short look at some data to help ground ourselves regarding where consumer trading demand appears to be today, then consider what the companies in the ring and their backers are thinking. We’ll close with a synthesis of all the perspectives to come up with hype-adjusted expectations for the rest of 2021.

Bullish data, bearish data

Coinbase executed its direct listing on the back of one of the most impressive quarters we’ve ever seen in the realm of business results, meaning it began to trade when it looked just about as good as a company can. Will the same hold true for Robinhood and company?

#fundings-exits, #index-ventures, #public-com, #robinhood, #startups, #the-exchange

Injective Protocol raises $10M from Pantera Capital, Mark Cuban for its ‘DeFi Robinhood’

Back in December last year Injective Protocol, launched the testnet for its DeFi protocols for cross-chain derivatives trading, with backing from giant crypto exchange Binance. It has now raised $10 million in a “party” funding round. Participating in the round was Pantera Capital, BlockTower, Hashed, Cadenza Ventures (formerly BitMex Ventures), CMS, and QCP Capital. Billionaire NBA team owner and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban has also made a strategic investment into Injective, according to my sources.

Injective’s main competitors (centralized and decentralized exchanges) include CME Group, BitMEX, LedgerX and OKEx, among others. The advantage of the approach used by Injective (it says) combines the advantages of decentralized exchanges: resistance to front running, scams, and hacks, with the speed, low transaction fees, and no gas fees associated with centralized platforms. Developers can also create their own derivatives and markets to trade.

Eric Chen, CEO of Injective Protocol said in a statement: “Legacy institutions and practices create a number of artificial delays and middlemen that prevent innovation in the financial markets ecosystem. At Injective, our goal is to enable an unparalleled decentralized trading experience, whereby retail traders globally can for the first time access limitless markets without the typical predatory fees and slow transaction times”.

The background to this is that Injective is essentially trying to build a decentralized competitor to Robinhood, because their platform allows the creation of synthetic tokens that represent stock in public companies like Apple and indices like S&P 500. This means meaning trading can happen 24/7 with instant finalization, as DeFi promises.

“Why do I invest in Injective: the whole stop out because of the capital requirements, Robinhood didn’t do it on purpose to hurt traders, they just didn’t have enough equity and they would have gone bankrupt because they had too many customers. But if you’re doing it in a decentralized manner every investor gets to see how much Injective has of all of this, there’s no hiding it and that creates an opportunity”, said Mark Cuban on his investment in Injective.

The potential here is that brokers wouldn’t be able to block trades on certain stocks, as they did with GameStop, as pointed out by Cuban above.

Injective’s team is drawn from Stanford University, came up with its project in 2018, and Chen was working at hedge funds and worked in cryptographic research at a blockchain-focused fund.

#apple, #binance, #ceo, #cryptocurrencies, #decentralized-exchange, #decentralized-finance, #digital-currencies, #ethereum, #europe, #financial-technology, #gamestop, #injective-protocol, #mark-cuban, #national-basketball-association, #nba, #pantera-capital, #robinhood, #stanford-university, #tc

Crypto trading on Robinhood spiked to 9.5M customers in first quarter

It’s been a big year for crypto, and Robinhood shared some stats today providing more evidence that the crypto boom is more than just hype — at least for now.

In a blog, Christine Brown, Robinhood’s head of crypto operations, revealed that in the first quarter of 2021, 9.5 million of its customers traded crypto via the company’s platform. That’s up big time from the 1.7 million customers who traded crypto in the 2020 fourth quarter.

Brown says the company’s intent behind launching Robinhood Crypto in the first place was to give its customers the opportunity to buy and sell cryptocurrency in addition to the range of assets offered through its brokerage, Robinhood Financial.

Robinhood Crypto currently offers seven tradeable coins: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin. 

Brown also noted that Robinhood’s crypto team has already more than tripled since the beginning of the year, although it’s not entirely clear how many staffers it currently has on that team. There are a number of crypto-related openings on its careers site, including an open “Crypto CFO” role.

The company is making clear that crypto is an important part of its overall business and part of its mission to democratize access to the masses.

“All it takes to spend, trade, and store cryptocurrency, theoretically, is an internet connection — you don’t need access to a big line of credit, or startup capital,” Brown wrote. “You don’t even have to be awake at a certain time of day to trade. The crypto market doesn’t close. Crypto was born out of a mission to take power away from institutions and return it to the people.”

Last August, Robinhood raised $200 million more at a new, higher $11.2 billion valuation in its third raise of the year before filing to go public in March. The company has had a tumultuous past year or so that was filled with time in front of Congress, bad PR from a user’s suicide, and settlements with the SEC.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch also reported earlier this week that in the first quarter of 2021, American consumer cryptocurrency trading giant Coinbase grew sharply, generating strong profits at the same time. Specifically, the company notched revenue of $1.8 billion in Q1 2021, up from $585.1 million in Q4 2020. Net income totaled “approximately $730 million to $800 million,” up from $178.8 million in Q4 2020.

#bitcoin, #cfo, #coinbase, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #digital-currencies, #dogecoin, #finance, #robinhood, #tc

Equity Monday: Deliveroo, ServiceTitan, and Robinhood for everywhere

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.

This morning was a fun mix of news, including some early-stage and late-stage startups entries, along with the latest from the public markets and the great IPO game. Here’s the rundown:

It was a lot, but when have we started the week anything less than fully behind? Chat Wednesday!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#ajaib, #bilibili, #cazoo, #deliveroo, #equity-podcast, #robinhood, #servicetitan, #tc, #zhihu

You can only invest if you promise not to read the fine print, ok?

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. News was right back up to a dull roar this week, so we did our best to trim and hone and just bring you the most important things.

Here’s the rundown:

Let’s all get some rest!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#bevy, #demo-day, #discord, #dispo, #dobrik, #equity, #equity-podcast, #finrise, #fundings-exits, #microsoft, #plaid, #ro, #robinhood, #startups, #tc, #y-combinator

Robinhood files confidentially to go public

Today Bloomberg reported, and Axios confirmed that Robinhood has filed privately to go public. The well-financed Robinhood is an American fintech company that provides zero-cost trading services to consumers.

Private IPO filings have become common in recent quarters, making Robinhood’s decision to file behind closed doors before showing its numbers to the public unsurprising. That it has filed privately, however, implies that the company is closer to a public debut than we might have anticipated.

Robinhood has long been expected to have a 2021 IPO in its plans. The company has not yet responded to an inquiry from TechCrunch regarding the news of its private IPO filing.

There are several reasons why Robinhood may be interested in a near-term public debut, despite running into controversies in recent quarters. No amount of time in front of Congress, bad PR from a user’s suicide, or settlements with the SEC can change the fact that today’s stock market favors growth, something that the company has in spades. Or that recent IPOs have been rapturously received by public investors as a cohort; it’s a warm time to pursue public-market liquidity.

The company’s revenue expanded greatly in 2020, something that TechCrunch has covered through the lens of Robinhood’s payment for order flow, or PFOF income. The company told Congress that the particular revenue source was the majority of its top line, meaning that PFOF growth is a reasonable comp for the company’s aggregate growth. And as TechCrunch has reported, those numbers rose sharply in 2020, from around ~$91 million in Q1 2020, to ~$178 million in Q2 2020, and ~$183 million and ~$221 million in the third and fourth quarter of last year.

Robinhood also makes money from consumer subscriptions, and other sources.

The fact that Robinhood has filed privately implies that it will go public sometimes soon, though perhaps not quickly enough to get around providing Q1 2021 numbers. More when we get our hands on the filing.

#fundings-exits, #ipo, #public-filing, #public-markets, #retail-investing, #retail-investors, #robinhood, #startups, #stock-trading

Forget medicine, in the future you might get prescribed apps

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. This time around we had whatever passes for a quiet week as far as news volume. But that still meant we had to cut stuff and move the rest around. But, once we got done editing the notes doc down, here’s what was leftover:

The show wraps with a teaser for next week that we won’t spoil here.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#airtable, #copy-ai, #dutchie, #equity, #equity-podcast, #etoro, #fit-analytics, #gpt-3, #gumroad, #robinhood, #siri, #snap, #squarespace, #tc

The Robinhood competitor landscape intensifies as Invstr raises $20M

One of the biggest gripes about investing apps is that they are not acting responsibly by not educating users properly and allegedly letting them fend for themselves. This can result in people losing a lot of money, as evidenced by the number of lawsuits against Robinhood.

Today, an eight-year-old company that has been focused on nothing but financial education is now offering trading and banking services in the U.S..

Over the years, London-based Invstr has built out an educational platform with features such as an investing Academy. It’s created a Fantasy Finance game, which gives users the ability to manage a virtual $1 million portfolio so they can learn more about the markets before risking their own money for real. Via social gamification, Invstr has set out to make the educational process fun.

It has also built a community around users so they can learn from each other (something another Robinhood competitor Gatsby is also doing).

Over 1 million users have downloaded the platform globally.

Invstr, according to CEO and founder Kerim Derhalli, is taking a different approach from competitors by offering education and learning tools upfront. And in addition to giving users the ability to make commission-free stock trades, it’s also giving them a way to digitally bank and invest using their Invstr+ accounts “without ever needing to move money from one place to another.”

Invstr takes it all a step further for subscribers who have access to an “Invstr Score,” performance stats and behavioral analytics among other things.

Derhalli said moving in this direction with the company was part of his business plan from day one.

“I think the most powerful trend in the U.S. is self directed investing,” Derhalli told TechCrunch. “Younger generations have grown up in an app world and they expect to be autonomous and do things for themselves. Many distrust the banking system, and they don’t want to follow in their parents’ footsteps when it comes to banking and finance. We think this is a massive opportunity.”

In the unveiling of its new offerings, Invstr also announced Wednesday that it has closed on a $20 million Series A in the form of a convertible offering. This builds upon $20 million it previously raised across two seed rounds from investors such as Ventura Capital, Finberg, European angel investor Jari Ovaskainen and Rick Haythornthwaite, former global chairman of Mastercard.

Derhalli said he felt compelled to found Invstr after seeing firsthand how a lack of knowledge and confidence can prevent individuals from starting to invest. He worked for three decades in senior leadership roles at Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan before founding Invstr “so that anyone, anywhere could learn how to invest.”

Invstr is offering its new investing services in partnership with Apex Clearing, which formerly provided execution and settlement services to Robinhood. Its digital banking services are being offered through a partnership with Vast Bank. To address the security piece, Invstr said its user data is also protected by technology from Okta.

The company, which also has offices in New York and Istanbul, plans to use the new capital to launch new brokerage and analytics tools and a portfolio builder.

#apps, #bank, #banking, #ceo, #chairman, #deutsche-bank, #economy, #finance, #funding, #gamification, #investor, #invstr, #istanbul, #london, #mastercard, #money, #new-york, #recent-funding, #robinhood, #startups, #united-states, #ventura-capital

Trading platform eToro to go public via SPAC merger in $10B deal

Multi-asset investing and trading platform and Robinhood competitor eToro announced Tuesday it will go public via a merger with SPAC FinTech Acquisition Corp. V in a massive $10.4 billion deal.

Once the transaction closes sometime in the third quarter, the combined company will operate as eToro Group Ltd. and is expected to be listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

The 14-year-old Israeli company was founded on a “vision of opening up capital markets.” It launched its platform in the U.S. just over two years ago and has seen rapid growth as of late. Last year, eToro said it added over 5 million new registered users and generated gross revenues of $605 million, representing 147% year over year growth. In January alone, the company added over 1.2 million new registered users and executed more than 75 million trades on its platform. That compares to 2019 when monthly registrations averaged 192,000 and 2020, when they grew to 440,000.

eToro said its platform is capitalizing on a number of secular trends such as the rise of digital wealth platforms, growing retail participation and mainstream crypto adoption. The company no doubt benefitted from the recent rise in retail investment interest, and in consumer investment apps and services specifically, which resulted from the so-called ‘meme stock’ activity that began with Redditors trading GameStop stock in order to frustrate institutional short-sellers.

The platform, which spans “social” stock trading and cryptocurrency exchange, in November 2019 acquired Delta, the crypto portfolio tracker app. eToro claims to be one of the first regulated platforms to offer cryptoassets. Its platform is regulated in the U.K., Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Gibraltar.

The transaction includes commitments for a $650 million common share private placement from leading investors including ION Investment Group, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Third Point LLC, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC and Wellington Management. The overall $10.4 billion implied equity value of the merger arrangement includes an implied enterprise value for eToro of $9.6 billion.

eToro currently has over 20 million registered users across 100 countries, and its social community is rapidly expanding due to the growth of its total addressable market, supported in part by secular trends such as the growth of digital wealth platforms and the rise in retail participation.

It expects to receivedapproval from FINRA for a broker dealer license, with plans to launch stocks in the U.S. in the second half of 2021. In a written statement, FinTech V chairman Betsy Cohen said that its sponsor platform Fintech Masala seeks out companies “with outsized growth, effective controls and excellent management teams.”

“eToro meets all three of these criteria,” she added. “In the last few years, eToro has solidified its position as the leading online social trading platform outside the U.S., outlined its plans for the U.S. market, and diversified its income streams. It is now at an inflection point of growth, and we believe eToro is exceptionally positioned to capitalize on this opportunity.”

#australia, #betsy-cohen, #broker, #cryptocurrency, #cryptocurrency-exchange, #etoro, #europe, #finance, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #finra, #fintech, #gamestop, #ing-group, #money, #robinhood, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #spac, #tc,