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18.12.2014 admin
Mobile, free to use, free cost of entry, and lightning fast: the Robinhood app will revolutionize online stock trading. Zero-commission brokerage start-up Robinhood said Tuesday it has picked up $13 million in series-A funding from venture capital firm Index Ventures. The capital infusion would be used to hire engineers and designers and bring the Apple iOS-only app out of beta, co-founders Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt told CNBC.
The company, which launched its mobile trading platform earlier this year, also added a number of well-known Silicon Valley names to its board of directors, including Jan Hammer of Index Ventures, Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie, actor and musician Jared Leto and rapper Snoop Dogg, Tenev added.
Robinhood app co-founders Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev, discuss the waiting list for this product, as well as how the company makes money. Robinhood first launched in April as an iOS app for tracking stocks and sharing predictions of whether they’d rise or fall. At the time, the Robinhood app was designed to fill a major hole on mobile, where there was no decent native equivalent of Yahoo Finance or Google Finance’s popular websites.
In October after eight months of waiting, Robinhood was approved by finance regulatory agency FINRA to become a broker-dealer. Robinhood will launch free stock trading early next year but you can sign up now to be in the first wave of users granted access. Zero-commission trading could bring a new generation of young investors into the stock market.
To scale up the zero-commission trading feature, Robinhood needs to hire engineers and designers, so it’s added to its initial funding from Google Ventures. Since 2009, they founded Celeris, an algorithmic trading trading technology startup, and Chronos Research, which sold financial software to top investment banks. Along the way Tenev and Bhatt learned how to navigate financial regulation, discovered the massive opportunity in mobile stock trading, and learned how to build it. Robinhood will have to battle the big marketing budgets E*Trade, Scottrade, and other big-name consumer brokerages. Robinhood is swiftly fulfilling its mission to steal commission charges from online brokerages for the rich, and give access to the stock market to the poor. Together, they developed the Robinhood iOS app where you can track stock performance and trade with no commission, rather than paying $7 to $10 to online brokerages like E*Trade or Scottrade. Robinhood raised a $3 million seed from Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz in late 2013. Now Robinhood is looking overseas thanks to the $50 million round led by NEA and joined by Vaizra Investments plus existing investors Index Ventures, Social Leverage, & Ribbit Capital.
The money will help Robinhood grow its team of 30 engineers and designers, release an Android version, and expand internationally.


So today Robinhood opens waitlist signups for Australian citizens, choosing the country for its high interest, English-speaking population, and relatively simple regulatory framework. Canada and the UK are two other places showing the strongest demand for Robinhood, and Tenev tells me the company plans to go country by country to roll out globally.
Unlike old school brick-and-mortar competitors, Robinhood can rapidly scale abroad since it doesn’t have to open physical stores. Instead, Robinhood plans to earn money thanks to the volume of trades on its app, and some bonus features for serious investors.
Robinhood’s rapid rise to $66 million in funding in under two years underscores the potential for consumer software to demolish old brick-and-mortar businesses. If I was invested in the old online stock trading companies, I’d call my broker right now and tell him to sell, because people aren’t going to pay to place trades anymore. Their lean budget, grassroots advertising, and optimized engineering combine to make the most disruptive technology in stock trading since 2000. That premise helped mobile investment app startup Robinhood raise the $3 million seed round led by Index Ventures it announced today. That meant it could add the most important feature missing in its app: the ability to actually buy and sell stocks.
Robinhood’s trades are executed fast with reliable pricing because these guys had already run an entire business dedicated to low-latency trading. It will also compete with finance news apps like MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, and Morningstar, but these don’t actually let you buy and sell stocks. So now that its zero-fee stock trading app is thriving stateside with hundreds of thousands of users, Robinhood is planning to go international, starting in Australia. With 25% being first time traders, Robinhood’s users have transacted over $500 million on the app to save $12 million in fees to date. The company was founded in 2013 by Stanford grads Tenev and Baiju Bhatt [Disclosure: Tenev and Bhatt are friends of mine from college] after they’d tried their luck building algorithmic trading and investment bank software startups. Once it’d received clearance from the SEC and locked down security, Robinhood opened a waitlist in February 2014, and by September when it raised a $13 million Series A led by Index, it had a half million people wanting in. Robinhood, a Google Ventures backed start-up, is a commission free trading brokerage company. Say goodbye to the Hay Day app with digital cheese and hello to the Robinhood app making you real cheese.
The Robinhood app will help people find locally HQed companies to consider buying their stock.


With the zero-commission trading it will launch next month, Robinhood is out to prove that young people do care about trading stocks — it’s just been too expensive for them to invest small sums.
There’s clearly big demand for free trading, as Robinhood’s sign up page leaked to Reddit and hit number 1 on HackerNews this weekend, bringing in over 10,000 signups in 24 hours.
Robinhood co-founder Baiju Bhatt tells me the startup went with Index because “they were super pasionate about what we were doing.
Robinhood will also have to stay lean and efficient as it grows so as not to befall the fate of Zecco, a service that offered free trading in 2006 but eventually started charging.
A $50 million Series B cash infusion from NEA will fuel that expansion, as well as hiring and development of Robinhood’s first monetization feature. The app began rolling out in beta in December, launched publicly in March, and already has an Apple Watch interface. Tenev says Robinhood is charging a 3.5% fee to trade on margin in a private beta of the feature, but that rate could change when margin trading rolls out to everyone. Stock trading conjures up thoughts of crowds screaming at the NYSE–papers are flying and fists are pumping. One article on CNBC, included a video clip from the Halftime Report, which hosted the Robinhood app founders: Vladimir Tenev, 26, and Baiju Bhatt, 28.
The Robinhood app, combined with your “fun money” can transform the very course of our country. Once the startup has its trading system humming, it could let other apps build on top of it for a price. Removing the fees removes the barriers to trading for younger, poorer people who might not have traded stocks before. Robinhood app’s low cost to entry with zero commission trades and zero starting balance is appealing.
That’s been replaced by online stock trading like eTrade, OptionsHouse, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, etc. Essentially, stock exchanges want lots of stock trading volume so people can always find a buyer or seller, so they’re willing to pay a little to get trades executed on their exchange versus another.
While it might not get rich quick, it wants to be the Amazon of stock trading by building a huge audience and making just a little off each user.



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