It’s been a year of record highs and lows for trading App Robinhood. The highs? A massive influx of new users. Robinhood has emerged as the top trading app in a market with stiff competition as Americans flock to the app to make an extra buck - or gamble, now that casinos and sports are on hold.
The lows? On June 12, 20-year-old Robinhood user Alexander Kearns died by suicide after seeing an incorrectly displayed negative balance of $730,165. More users means increased scrutiny, and Robinhood hasn’t exactly held up. Robinhood gamifies trading, drawing in users with its UI and marketing promising to help them get rich quick, while not equipping its users with the tools to understand the big, and sometimes high-risk, trades they’re making.
Earlier this week, Robinhood started taking steps to address concerns from critics. The app removed a feature which allowed users to see how many other Robinhood users owned a certain stock, a feature which led to bizarre happenings like a rally in the recently bankrupt Hertz ($HTZ) and 40,000 Robinhood users buying Tesla stock within a four-hour period.
While any step the app takes to reduce the incredibly harmful effects Robinhood can - and has - had on its users, the negative coverage ultimately hasn’t made a dent in Robinhood’s success. Social metrics for the app are up across the board, and users keep flocking in.
Robinhood’s Apple App Store ratings are up 137% year-over-year with an average rating of 4.8 stars. While the negative press may have drawn skeptical eyes from the finance world and journalists, its users remain unphased and are clearly happy with their experience on the app. And users aren’t just happy to stick with Robinhood; They’re using it more than ever. The company said its charge-free daily average revenue trades hit 4.31 million in June.
Twitter followers are also up 35% from January, with a significant increase occurring in the first two weeks of June, right around the time that news of Kearns’ suicide broke. While that burst of followers may have come from critics and skeptics, the high rate at which the app has drawn in new followers and users is a sign that Robinhood probably could have done just fine without introducing these new safety measures. These moves are more about preempting a potential larger PR disaster - if you could even imagine a disaster worse than causing a suicide - more than they are about keeping users from leaving the platform.
But while some Robinhood users suffer, or worse, the app continues to thrive. On July 13, just one day after Kearns’ death, Robinhood began a hiring spree that’s led to a 51% increase in job listings. Robinhood isn’t going anywhere, and it’s going to take hawkish coverage and scrutiny to keep their care for users to task.
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