Popular, highly-scrutinized trading app Robinhood has raised $2.4 billion to its balance sheet from shareholders, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal and then confirmed by the company. The private startup raised $1 billion on Friday, meaning that it has raised $3.4 billion in a handful of days as it seeks to support a flood of retail investors looking to invest in individual stocks on its app – spurred by Redditors investing in GameStop in a effort to frustrate short sellers, in part.
Per Robinhood, the new funds were "led by Ribbit Capital, with participation from existing investors including ICONIQ, Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia, Index Ventures, and NEA with terms being finalized." It's somewhat unconventional to announce a raise that is still being sorted, but Robinhood wants to calm nerves, so shouting about the capital ahead of the paperwork being fully smoothed makes some sense.
The new capital comes at a challenging time for the unicorn, which could pursue an IPO this year – but also a time when it's enjoying considerable public attention, likely introducing it to many potential new users.
Last week, Robinhood found itself overwhelmed by the demand of new investors looking to invest in meme-stocks such as GameStop and AMC. Robinhood had to temporarily ban trading on these stocks due to stiff financial requirements. As of right now, Robinhood users are limited to buying just a few shares of GameStop and other stocks despite the company haven taken on more capital since the GameStop run began.
TechCrunch emailed Robinhood asking for details of the $2.4 billion infusion, curious if it was raised as primary capital, convertible debt that could convert at the time of a public offering, or other mechanism. Update: Robinhood declined to comment on the record. Sources familiar, however, tell TechCrunch that the funds were raised in the form of a convertible note. Forbes initially broke the news that the financing was raised as a convertible note.
“[A]mid this week’s extraordinary circumstances in the market, we made a tough decision today to temporarily limit buying for certain securities. As a brokerage firm, we have many financial requirements, including SEC net capital obligations and clearinghouse deposits. Some of these requirements fluctuate based on volatility in the markets and can be substantial in the current environment. These requirements exist to protect investors and the markets and we take our responsibilities to comply with them seriously, including through the measures we have taken today,” the company wrote in a post.
In other words: Robinhood ran low on capital, which meant it had to limit the frenzy of activity on its app. While the reasons behind Robinhood’s limits were technical, investors largely saw the constriction as a slap in the face in favor of hedge funds. Late Friday, Robinhood released yet another blog post detailing what happened during what some see as a pivotal week in the company’s trajectory.
“Our goal is to enable purchasing for all securities on our platform. This is a dynamic, volatile market, and we have and may continue to take action to make sure we meet our requirements as a broker so we can continue to serve our customers for the long term,” the statement read.
Today’s new capital will likely help Robinhood add some much needed buffer room, to the delight of its customers and investors.