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Robinhood’s era of fun and games comes to an end

Jonathan Levin
Jonathan Levin4/28/2022 06:41 PM GMT+08  • 4 min read
Robinhood’s era of fun and games comes to an end
Robinhood has, of course, brought about real enduring change / Bloomberg
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It’s the end of an era for Robinhood Markets Inc. — and perhaps financial markets broadly. The Silicon Valley operator of a commission-free stock trading platform is cutting 9% of its 3,800-person workforce less than a year after its splashy initial public offering, a move that may well draw the curtain on the era of extreme market optimism that enticed a generation into believing trading was easy and entertaining.

Robinhood became the go-to app for novice traders during the greatest period of speculative excess since the dot-com bubble, when incomprehensible stock moves suddenly became routine. In January 2021, shares of then-moribund retailer GameStop soared in a sort of mob message-board rally. In May, college kids got temporarily rich (and then poor again) from Dogecoin, a joke cryptocurrency with a Shiba Inu dog for a logo.

Meanwhile, US$1 trillion market capitalizations became increasingly commonplace among tech firms, and Cathie Wood’s Ark Innovation ETF — filled with speculative, low-cash-flow bets on big ideas — returned some 350% in about 11 months.

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