Robinhood’s valuation is expected to jump fourfold to around $5.6 billion, driven by the stock brokerage app’s popularity among millennials.
The company, which offers cryptocurrency trades in addition to stock trades, is in the process of securing around $350 million from an investor group led by DST Global, a Russian firm. The group led Robinhood’s last funding round one year ago, valuing the company then at $1.3 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Robinhood chose not to respond to a request for comment.
Robinhood now ranks among the leading 15 private technology firms in the U.S., thanks to investor confidence that it can gain traction in the financial trading market.
The company’s three-year-old app has gained 4 million users, representing a doubling in one year. The gain was driven by an offering of free stock trades that beat the fees of discount brokers.
Whether or not the company can gain enough users to support the cost of premium services, such as “gold” subscriptions starting at $6 per month to trade after hours and borrow capital, remains to be seen. The company earns profits on the interest that it holds in client cash accounts and by selling client trades to market makers.
Robinhood’s median age user was around 30, which means they have less cash to spend than older clients that big brokerages serve. Robinhood expects its younger investors’ assets to increase with time. Eventually, the company expects to offer additional services to its clients. To date, the company has restrained investing in marketing in order to reduce its overhead.
Investors also believe there is an opportunity in the company’s introduction of cryptocurrency trading, trades that are commission free.
Robinhood, at $5.6 billion, is valued at a third of E*Trade Financial Corp., with a market cap of $15 billion. Investors looking to earn a good return under the new round of funding are betting Robinhood can approach E*Trade Financial’s valuation.
Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, a pair of 20-something Stanford University math graduates when they founded Robinhood in 2012, have said they were inspired to make financial services accessible to people regardless of income by the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011.
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