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I found $20 in my old pants and I’m ready to take over Robinhood

I found $20 in my old pants and I’m ready to take over Robinhood


Hey Vlad, I’ll democratize your finance

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Art of the Robinhood feather logo surrounded by red
For a little spare change, this logo could be all yours
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Robinhood is trading just above $10 a share as of this publication, which is about a 73 percent decrease from its price at IPO, $38. The market cap is now under $10 billion. Friends, it’s possible. The more the shares fall, the easier it is for the memestonkers to snatch. How would a bunch of retail investors seize Robinhood? Why not use a DAO?

It’s time to seize the means of investing

There’s been a lot of speculation this year — especially after the first round of layoffs, when Robinhood cut 9 percent of its staff — that the app-based trading service is an attractive takeover target. Yesterday, Robinhood cut further: almost a quarter of its remaining staff, including its showy chief product officer hire they got from Google. It also released its earnings a day early, showing dips in revenue, monthly active users, and assets under custody.

Robinhood’s big sell was democratizing finance, remember? Fuck AMC and GameStop, my internet-addled ape friends. It’s time to seize the means of investing: RobinhoodDAO. I will grant that The Verge’s ethics policy prevents me from owning any crypto, but don’t let that stop you from taking my bad ideas seriously. You wanna prove to the world that DAOs are big and important? Time for a corporate raid.

Well, yes, Robinhood’s hemorrhaging monthly active users — in the second quarter of 2022, they had one-third fewer than a year before. But here’s a fun thing about Robinhood’s young user base: They’re going to get older. Usually old people have more money than young ones. So let’s assume some churn, but if we can get one-third of these kiddos to stick, especially the ones with money already, we could make up for the loss in user numbers in the long term through, uh, compound interest? This makes at least as much financial sense as Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, so I look forward to getting calls from banks for debt financing.

We gotta strike while the iron is hot because I think Sam Bankman-Fried is also interested and he has a lot more money. SBF has been on an acquisition spree lately, and Bloomberg reports he’s kicking Robinhood’s tires. Though my unruly curly hair is more sumptuous than his, I don’t think that’s how shareholders are going to make their decision. Plus SBF — as he is known — already has a 7.6 percent stake.

I just found $20 in another pair of pants

And if we don’t hurry, we’re going to have more to worry about than SBF. See, if he buys Robinhood, they don’t really have to rejigger the business at all — it can stay DraftKings but for stocks. But if you think about your JPMorgans and your Charles Schwabs and your Morgan Stanleys, well, it might be worth it to buy market share among The Youngs.

Now of course, two-thirds of the voting power for Robinhood is concentrated among the Merry Men, founders Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt. We can solve that, too. They’ve given a lot of lip service to financial inclusion, so I propose that we give them what they want: an exciting think tank working toward financial inclusion. They can give TED Talks and host conferences and generally be applauded. That’ll probably be good enough, because if there’s one through line to Tenev’s public appearances, it’s that he desperately wants the audience to like him.

You are saying, Liz, what about the regulatory overhang? Didn’t they just get fined, like, $30 million for violating anti-money-laundering laws on their cryptocurrency stuff? Isn’t Gary Gensler repeatedly kicking them, in the hopes of distracting everyone from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s disastrous inaction on cryptocurrency scams? Yes, my child, yes. But here’s the thing: with risk comes reward! That’s the entire proposition of investing!

Oh, I just found $20 in another pair of pants. Great, we can add that to the bid! But we’d better hurry up or SBF and his inadequately moisturized hair are going to take Robinhood before you and I have a chance to have any fun at all.

So let’s start a DAO. Making a Dune series is some loser shit — let’s fuck up finance. We’ll incorporate in the Virgin Islands or something, and then we’ll raise a bunch of money. Maybe we can introduce a “utility token” for this, where one token equals one vote, and we can let people speculate on the token, and then strategically release our reserves to raise even more money. Robinhood said it wanted to democratize finance. Let’s take the company at its word.