‘Little guy’ may feel sharp pain from Robinhood’s IPO arrow

The individuals at Robinhood made IPO history this previous week once they reserved an unheard-of chunk of its preliminary public providing, round 35 p.c, for the buying and selling app’s small-investor shoppers.  

And for those who’ve been listening to firm honchos and its soon-to-be mega-rich CEO Vlad Tenev, that is what “democratizing” Wall Road is all about — letting its shoppers, the littlest of the little-guy traders, money in on a scorching IPO like these large, nasty hedge funds have been doing for many years.

Energy to the individuals, proper? I’m not so positive. The truth is, there’s a powerful counternarrative bouncing round Wall Road circles that Vlad’s supposed noblesse oblige is something however — and yet one more instance of when one thing seems to be too good to be true, it often is. 

Tenev positions himself as a fellow following within the footsteps of his firm’s namesake, stealing from these wealthy Wall Road-types, and giving stuff to us poors, whilst he’s setting himself as much as be the most recent 30-something billionaire tapping into the high-finance wealth machine. 

He created Robinhood eight years in the past as a manner for common individuals to trade easily and seamlessly similar to the large guys on Wall Road, and with no fee. The corporate turned a cultural touchstone throughout the pandemic lockdowns, when many individuals had nothing higher to do with their time than commerce shares.

What his loyal prospects may not totally admire is that they commerce without cost solely as a result of the agency sells consumer trades to brokers who then match the consumers and sellers, a apply referred to as “payment for order flow.” 

Nothing unlawful about that (at the least not but), nor immoral, in my view. However let’s drop the sanctimonious BS: This “empowering the little man” is doing quite a bit to complement Wall Road’s ruling class.

When you get previous the parable of Robinhood’s eleemosynary foundations, you possibly can see that the IPO stunt is hardly the stuff that democratization is fabricated from. 

Most IPOs need shares to be positioned with giant institutional investors that maintain them for the lengthy haul. They’re diversified mutual funds, and asset managers that may stand up to the vicissitudes of any nascent firm’s fortunes that play out in hopefully rising share costs over a time period, often years.

However Robinhood isn’t getting a whole lot of curiosity from these traders, I hear. The large asset-management companies are usually not Robinhood’s prospects, and don’t have any allegiance to the product. They’re trying laborious at potential consumer progress throughout market downturns, and regulatory dangers. 

While the Robinhood trading-app exponentially grew from thousands of “little guys” playing around with meme stocks like GameStop, its business model is not sustainable at all.
Whereas the Robinhood trading-app exponentially grew from hundreds of “little guys” enjoying round with meme shares like GameStop, its enterprise mannequin isn’t sustainable in any respect.
Christopher Sadowski

And I’m instructed they didn’t like what they noticed. Many had been so skeptical in regards to the enterprise mannequin that they determined they wouldn’t take part within the providing and may just short shares, betting they will generate profits when the shares fall in worth as they did Thursday, dipping under the $38 IPO point.

As one giant institutional investor instructed me, “Robinhood’s enterprise mannequin is mezzo morto.” (Translation: Half lifeless.) 

So Tenev makes present of giving his shares to the “little man,” when the little man in all probability didn’t have a lot of a alternative. 

To develop into worthwhile, Robinhood wants retail buying and selling to develop exponentially prefer it did throughout pandemic lockdowns. Its rivals, low cost brokers like Charles Schwab, E*Trade, and many others., are extraordinarily worthwhile. A giant purpose why is that they have business banks and different traces of enterprise that enable them to generate profits beneath extra opposed market circumstances. 

One thing easy just like the Fed having to begin elevating interest rates due to non-transitory inflation will damage Robinhood’s progress. The minute the Fed strikes charges larger, it’s seemingly you possibly can kiss goodbye to a lot of the meme-stock and crypto trading that’s behind Robinhood’s wonderful 200 percent surge in consumer progress in simply the previous a number of years (18 million prospects ultimately depend in comparison with simply 6 million on the finish of 2018).

To be truthful, throughout the firm’s highway present, executives furtively conceded (in between a good quantity of chest pounding about buyer progress, and many others.) that they’re open to creating adjustments as quickly because the IPO is full. They appeared to acknowledge that they should rely much less on fee for order circulate, which accounts for round 75 p.c of the corporate’s revenues, as a result of, in spite of everything, Gary Gensler, chair of the Securities and Change Fee, isn’t a giant fan of the apply. 

So possibly Robinhood will in some unspecified time in the future diversify its manner into profitability and into giant traders’ good graces. Robinhood executives have strongly hinted that they, too, might get into the payment-for-order-flow enterprise by matching their very own orders and skimming the distinction within the bid-ask unfold on shares the way in which different market makers do. 

Robinhood might additionally use a few of that $2 billion in IPO money to purchase a financial institution, a enterprise that usually makes cash when interest rates rise (and markets tumble) as a result of banks cost extra once they lend and are sluggish to boost charges on financial savings and checking accounts.

Plenty of maybes for a corporation pushing the narrative that it’s poised for large in a single day progress whereas democratizing Wall Road.

https://nypost.com/2021/07/31/little-guy-may-feel-sharp-pain-from-robinhoods-ipo-arrow/ | ‘Little man’ might really feel sharp ache from Robinhood’s IPO arrow

Huynh Nguyen

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