By Jeremy C. Owens
Robinhood Markets Inc. priced its initial public offering at the bottom of its expected range Wednesday night, which still values the company at more than double its previous $12 billion valuation.
Robinhood /zigman2/quotes/228268942/composite HOOD +10.85% , which makes a popular investing platform primarily designed for mobile phones, will raise at least $1.09 billion in the offering by selling 55 million shares. After seeking to price the shares from $38 to $42, Robinhood went with the $38 price, which values the company at $26.74 billion. Shares are expected to begin trading Thursday morning on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol HOOD.
Most of the money from the offering, roughly $1.89 billion, will go to the company, but top executives will also receive some of the proceeds. The company’s co-founders, Chief Executive Vlad Tenev and Chief Creative Officer Baiju Bhatt, each provided 1.25 million shares in the offering, while Chief Financial Officer Jason Warnick will sell 125,000 shares.
Robinhood expects to reserve 20% to 35% of the shares for users of its app to purchase at the IPO price. Underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, will have access to an additional 5.5 million shares that could boost the total raised, if sold.
For more: Five things to know about Robinhood as it goes public
Established in late 2013, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, which was magnified by a stampede of younger investors jumping into “meme stocks” and cryptocurrencies such as dogecoin /zigman2/quotes/226077044/realtime DOGEUSD +9.79% in recent months. Users more than doubled in the past 12 months as of the end of March, while revenue more than quadrupled over the same time period.
Robinhood has at times struggled to handle its growth and the popularity of certain equities. The company’s details on numerous lawsuits against it took up more than six pages of its voluminous filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, some of those stemming from its halt to trading in GameStop Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203755179/composite GME -0.02% and other meme stocks in January.
Robinhood’s emphasis on offering free trades has led to many established brokerages moving to the same approach, which instead of taking fees from customers to execute a trade generates revenue from market makers that pay to execute Robinhood customers’ trades. The tactic, known as payment for order flow, or PFOF, accounted for 75% of Robinhood’s revenue in 2020, and grew to 81% in the first quarter of 2021.
See also: The SEC could cripple Robinhood’s business model by enforcing existing rules, experts say
Those revenues are booming. Robinhood’s sales grew more than 254% in 2020 from 2019 to reach nearly $1 billion. Yet revenue growth only increased in the first quarter of 2021, when the meme-stock boom led to sales of $522.17 million in just three months, roughly 310% growth from the first quarter of 2020 and nearly twice as much revenue as Robinhood collected in all of 2019.
The company did turn a profit in 2020, producing net income of $7.45 million on sales of $958.8 million, but the costs of handling the meme-stock madness has led to big losses of late. In the first quarter, Robinhood reported a loss of $1.44 billion for just three months, and expected to lose about a half-billion dollars in the second quarter, according to filings with the SEC.