Robinhood began trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker HOOD on July 29. Image Credit: Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com
When Robinhood filed to go public earlier this year, it immediately became one of the year’s most anticipated IPOs. Co-founded by Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, who met as college roommates, the popular online brokerage pioneered free stock trading and offers amateur investors commission-free trading.
The company officially went public on the Nasdaq on July 29, and the day before sold a total of 52.4 million shares at $38 apiece, valuing the company at around $32 billion. Tenev and Bhatt each sold about $50 million worth of stock.
Robinhood has been exceptionally busy in the past couple of months, both with building out a senior leadership team with industry execs from Google, Amazon and Facebook, and dealing with its fair share of legal battles and regulatory probes. Recently, the company had to pay a fine of $70 million to FINRA for “supervisory systemic failures,” the largest fine ordered by the self-regulatory body in its history.
The Org identified the key players on Robinhood’s leadership team that have been navigating the company through these challenges and gearing up behind-the-scenes to take the San Francisco-based company from private to public.
At the top of the org chart is CEO and co-founder Vlad Tenev. Like so many startups before, Tenev and his co-founder Bhatt met at Stanford where they were roommates and classmates. After graduation, the pair headed to New York where they built two finance companies selling trading software to hedge fund managers.
Through that experience, Tenev and Bhatt realized that Wall Street professionals were paying next to nothing to trade stocks, while everyday Americans were getting charged commissions for each trade. They took this knowledge with them back to California to start building Robinhood in 2013, and they have been building up its reputation and team ever since.
Tenev has been running the company as chief executive since 2013 and through his stock options, he’s projected to be worth $2.5 billion after Thursday’s IPO. Bhatt stands to see a similar fortune, with the two co-founders each owning about 8% of the company’s stock after the offering, and they will hold about two-thirds of the voting shares.
We wouldn’t be talking about Robinhood today if it wasn’t for the year’s buzziest business story that saw Robinhood starring as the main character. When a group of meme stock traders flooded the Reddit thread “/wallstreetbets” earlier this year to short stock GameStop’s plummeting shares, Robinhood saw a huge increase in activity on its platform and more than tripled its revenue in the first quarter of 2021.
Since the media frenzy it experienced in March, it’s appointed three new board members: Jon Rubinstein, a former Apple and Bridgewater Associates exec; Paula Loop, a PwC partner; and Robert Zoellick, former World Bank President.
Another recent hire to Robinhood’s expanding C-suite is Aparna Chennapragada. She joined the team in March as the company’s first-ever Chief Product Officer, a position where she oversees all of Robinhood’s product, design and research teams. Chennapragada most recently worked as VP for consumer shopping at Google and helped the team develop AR and visual search research on the platform.
Navigating the complex legal challenges that Robinhood has faced in the past couple of months is Chief Legal Officer Dan Gallagher. He was previously SEC Commissioner from 2011 to 2015 and held several other positions on the SEC staff including deputy director and co-acting director of the division of trading and markets. Most recently, he was partner and deputy chair of the securities department at the international law firm WilmerHale.
Gallagher has been a board member since October 2019 and was promoted to the C-suite in May. The company continued to strengthen its legal team three months later with the hires of Christina Lai and Lucas Moscowitz, who both serve as VPs and deputy general counsels.
The most recent challenge Gallagher and his team have faced came only two days before Robinhood’s public offering. The company revealed that Tenev is being investigated by FINRA for not holding a license with Wall Street’s self-regulating arm. Five months earlier, it was reported that Tenev also was not registered with FINRA, despite leading one of the country’s most powerful online brokerages.
No doubt working hard to spin away from this narrative is Christina Smedley, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. Smedley joined the team in September 2020 from Facebook where she most recently served as VP of brand marketing for Novi, Facebook’s digital wallet venture. She also has experience in marketing and communications roles at PayPal, Edelman, and Amazon.
Rounding out the team is Chief Financial Officer Jason Warnick and Chief Operating Officer Gretchen Howard. Warnick came to the company in 2018 after nearly 20 years at Amazon, where he most recently worked as VP of Finance and Chief of Staff to the CFO. In his role at Robinhood, Warnick oversees finance, accounting, treasury and related functions and has helped scale and expand Robinhood’s new verticals.
Howard has worked for the past five years at VC firm CapitalG as a partner. Before that, she was a managing director at Google and she also previously worked as a VP at Fidelity. At Robinhood, Howard oversees sales, marketing, culture and customer strategy. She also oversees new product strategy at Robinhood, including the company’s new ventures in cryptocurrency.
A standout on Howard’s team is Christine Brown, COO of Robinhood Crypto and VP of product operations. She’s been with the company since 2017 and has led several product strategy efforts that have been crucial to the company’s growth, including Clearing by Robinhood Securities — the first clearing system built from scratch in more than a decade. With cryptocurrency officially in her job title, it signals Robinhood is continuing to expand into different product strategies for its next phase of life as a public company.