Robinhood ($PRIVATE:ROBINHOOD) is getting tons more attention these days.
It's not all for the right reasons. However, despite Hertz going under and Buffett bailing out of airlines, there has been a flood of attention in the market lately from younger investors, eager to mint small new fortunes on the next big options swing.
In the space of less than a decade, Robinhood has managed to build a valuation more than half that of E*Trade ($ETFC), which, after nearly 40 years in business, struck a $13-billion stock deal to sell itself to legacy financial services institution Morgan Stanley just days before the pandemic began.
During the pandemic alone, Robinhood has grown its Twitter follower count by 25%, as the trading platform has seen soaring attention in recent weeks.
For a time, Robinhood's social media engagement was boosted not by good news, but by the fact that its trading platform was having outages at critical times for users. Part of what may be driving recent interest in Robinhood isn't the opportunity to make big options bets; Forbes recently broke the story of an Illinois college student who took his own life after the app reflected losses of more than $700,000 in his account.
The man's suicide note asked a foundational question that reflects the perils of access to high leverage and online trading platforms - and one that Robinhood's founders would have to answer: “How was a 20-year-old with no income able to get assigned almost a million dollars worth of leverage?” In the wake of the tragedy, Robinhood founders Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt pledged to make substantive changes to the options trading platform.
Robinhood doesn't have as large of a Facebook following, at just under 150,000, as it does on Twitter. But again, in 2020, the trading platform saw Likes on the social network rise more than 21% in a busy year that saw its valuation soar to $8 billion.
Some of it might be boredom, but other users are flocking onto the Robinhood platform thanks to newly-minted day traders like Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, who regularly broadcasts his trades to tens of thousands of live followers, and also likes to insult Wall Street titan Warren Buffett. According to a recent CNN Business report, Robinhood investors are "scooping up shares of airlines, videoconferencing and streaming media companies as well as biotechs."
But one Wall Street legend isn't having any of it; Leon Cooperman took one look at the Robinhood trading set, and told CNBC last week, "this will end in tears."
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