Robinhood slashes staff as trading boom slumps

Its customer base has been spooked by decades-high inflation and rising interest rates.

The Robinhood website on a laptop computer arranged in Hastings-On-Hudson, New York
Robinhood's active monthly users have fallen by about a third [File: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg]

Robinhood Markets Inc is slashing nearly a quarter of its staff as a pandemic trading boom has slumped.

The app-based brokerage dismissed 23 percent of its staff as it posted a 44 percent decline in revenue on slumping trading activity, in an earnings announcement on Tuesday that came a day earlier than scheduled and beat analyst expectations.

The Menlo Park, California-based brokerage posted net revenue for the second quarter ended June 30 of $318m as revenue from equity, options and crypto trading more than halved, compared with $565m a year earlier, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said it would commence another round of layoffs affecting 780 employees, on top of the 9 percent of full-time staff laid off earlier this year. It will also change its organisational structure to drive greater cost discipline.

Robinhood’s total operating expenses for the second quarter rose 22 percent on the same period last year. The reorganisation will cost the firm between $30m to $40m, Robinhood said.

The company posted a net loss of $295m. Stripping out the restructuring charges, Robinhood reported a loss of 32 cents per share versus analyst estimates of a loss of 37 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

It was originally scheduled to report earnings on August 3, but released them a day early after publishing a blog post about the job cuts and reorganisation.

Robinhood’s shares were down nearly 1 percent at $9.15 in after-hours trading.

Robinhood’s easy-to-use interface made it a hit among young investors trading from home on cryptocurrencies and stocks such as GameStop Corp during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But its customer base has been spooked by decades-high inflation and rising interest rates, which have sucked liquidity out of global markets and sent cryptocurrencies slumping.

Robinhood is one of many fintech upstarts that have started slashing jobs ahead of an expected recession, along with crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc, buy-now-pay-later company Klarna and NFT platform OpenSea, while a handful of crypto companies including Celsius Network and Voyager Digital collapsed amid the broader crypto crash.

Robinhood Chief Executive Officer Vlad Tenev said in a blog post on Tuesday that staff cuts earlier this year had not gone far enough.

“As CEO, I approved and took responsibility for our ambitious staffing trajectory – this is on me,” Tenev said.

Tenev, who founded the company in 2013 with Stanford University roommate Baiju Bhatt, told employees they would receive a Slack message about their status. Those who are losing their jobs will be allowed to stay with the firm until October 1.

Transaction-based revenues across Robinhood’s three main business lines of options, equities and cryptocurrencies fell 55 percent, with crypto transaction revenue, which had buffered the company’s results last year, falling 75 percent year-on-year.

Robinhood’s monthly active users also appeared to fall by roughly a third, at 14 million for June 2022 compared with 21.3 million in the second quarter of 2021.

Fintech stocks bore the brunt of a broader market decline as a risk-off environment coupled with higher funding costs and sluggish e-commerce growth led to traders pull back from high-growth tech so far this year.

Shares of Robinhood, which were sold at $38 a share in its initial public offering last year, were also caught in the crosshairs of the crypto meltdown and have shed nearly 88 percent.

Source: News Agencies