DRS 1 filename1.htm Document

As confidentially submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 22, 2021.
This draft registration statement has not been filed publicly with the Securities and Exchange Commission and all information herein remains strictly confidential.
Registration No. 333-
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Form S-1
REGISTRATION STATEMENT
UNDER
THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
Robinhood Markets, Inc.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware737246-4364776
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(Primary Standard Industrial
Classification Code Number)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
85 Willow Road, Menlo Park, California 94025
(844) 428-5411
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of registrant’s principal executive offices)
Vladimir Tenev
Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and President
Robinhood Markets, Inc.
85 Willow Road, Menlo Park, California 94025
(844) 428-5411
(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of agent for service)
Copies to:
John W. White
Andrew J. Pitts
D. Scott Bennett
Claudia J. Ricciardi
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
825 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York 10019
(212) 474-1000
Daniel Gallagher
Christina Y. Lai
Weilyn Wood
Robinhood Markets, Inc.
85 Willow Road
Menlo Park, California 94025
(844) 428-5411
Byron B. Rooney
Emily Roberts
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
450 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York 10017
(212) 450-4000
Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: As soon as practicable after this Registration Statement is declared effective.
If any of the securities being registered on this form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, check the following box. ☐
If this form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. ☐
If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. ☐
If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act.




CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE
Title of Each Class of
Securities to be Registered
Proposed Maximum
Aggregate Offering
Price (1)(2)
Amount of
Registration Fee
Common Stock, $0.0001 par value per share
__________________
(1)Estimated solely for the purpose of calculating the registration fee pursuant to Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
(2)Includes offering price of any additional shares that the underwriters have the option to purchase.
The registrant hereby amends this Registration Statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Securities and Exchange Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.



The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We and the selling stockholders may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell nor does it seek an offer to buy these securities in any state where the offer or sale is not permitted.
Subject to Completion, dated             , 2021
Preliminary Prospectus
         Shares
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Robinhood Markets, Inc.
Common Stock
This is an initial public offering of common stock by Robinhood Markets, Inc. We are offering             shares of our common stock to be sold in the offering. The selling stockholders identified in this prospectus are offering an additional             shares of our common stock. We will not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of the shares being sold by the selling stockholders.
Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for our common stock. We currently anticipate that the initial public offering price per share of our common stock will be between $             and $             .
We intend to apply to list our common stock on the Nasdaq Stock Market (the “Nasdaq”) under the symbol “            .”
We are an “emerging growth company,” as that term is used in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”) and, under applicable Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) rules, we have elected to take advantage of certain reduced public company reporting requirements for this prospectus and future filings.
Investing in our common stock involves risks. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 23.
Neither the SEC nor any state securities commission or other regulatory body has approved or disapproved of these securities or determined if this prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
Per ShareTotal
Initial public offering price$$
Underwriting discounts and commissions(1)
$$
Proceeds to us, before expenses$$
Proceeds to selling stockholders, before expenses$$
________________
(1)See the section titled “Underwriting” for a description of the compensation payable to the underwriters.
We have granted the underwriters an option for a period of 30 days from the date of this prospectus to purchase up to an additional             shares of our common stock.
The underwriters expect to deliver the shares against payment in New York, New York on             , 2021.
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLCJ.P. Morgan
BarclaysCitigroupMorgan StanleyWells Fargo Securities
Prospectus dated                , 2021



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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Through and including                     , 2021 (the 25th day after the date of this prospectus), all dealers effecting transactions in these securities, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to a dealer’s obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as an underwriter and with respect to an unsold allotment or subscription.
We have not, and the selling stockholders and the underwriters have not, authorized anyone to provide you with any information or to make any representations other than those contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectus we have prepared and filed with the SEC. We, the selling stockholders and the underwriters take no responsibility for, and can provide no assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may give you. This prospectus is an offer to sell only the shares offered hereby, but only under the circumstances and in jurisdictions where it is lawful to do so. The information contained in this prospectus is current only as of its date, regardless of the time of delivery of this prospectus or of any sale of our common stock.
For investors outside of the United States: Neither we, the selling stockholders nor the underwriters have done anything that would permit our initial public offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. Persons outside of the United States who come into possession of this prospectus must inform themselves about, and observe any restrictions relating to, the offering of the shares of our common stock and the distribution of this prospectus outside of the United States.
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MARKET, INDUSTRY AND OTHER DATA
This prospectus includes estimates regarding market and industry data. Unless otherwise indicated, information concerning our industry and the markets in which we operate, including our general expectations, market position, market opportunity and market size, are based on our management’s knowledge and experience in the markets in which we operate, together with currently available information obtained from various sources, including publicly available information, industry reports and publications, surveys, our customers, trade and business organizations and other contacts in the markets in which we operate. Certain information is based on management estimates, which have been derived from third-party sources, as well as data from our internal research, and are based on certain assumptions that we believe to be reasonable. Among others, we refer to information and estimates from the following third-party sources:
PwC, Future of Customer Experience Survey, 2017/2018;
Pew Research Center, Most Americans Say the Current Economy Is Helping the Rich, Hurting the Poor and Middle Class, December 2019;
Gallup, What Percentage of Americans Owns Stock?, September 2020;
The Harris Poll, on behalf of Ondot Systems, April 2020;
IBISWorld, Securities Brokering Industry in the U.S. - Market Research Report, July 2020;
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services, 2019 FIDC Survey, October 2020;
HSN Consultants Inc., Nilson Report, May 2020;
Credit Suisse Research Institute, Global Wealth Databook, October 2019;
Hardman & Co., How Big Is the Potential Investment Platform Market in the UK?, May 2020;
App Annie;
Federal Reserve, Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. since 1989, December 2020;
Deloitte, The Future of Wealth in the United States, November 2015;
National Bureau of Economic Research, The Wisdom of the Robinhood Crowd, September 2020;
FINRA Investor Education Foundation, New Research: Global Pandemic Brings Surge of New and Experienced Retail Investors Into the Stock Market, February 2021; and
Experian PLC.
In presenting this information, we have made certain assumptions that we believe to be reasonable based on such data and other similar sources and on our knowledge of, and our experience to date in, the markets in which we operate. While we believe the estimated market and industry data included in this prospectus are generally reliable, such information, which includes information derived in part from management’s estimates and beliefs, is inherently uncertain and imprecise. Market and industry data are subject to change and may be limited by the availability of raw data, the voluntary nature of the data-gathering process and other limitations inherent in any statistical survey of such data. In addition, forecasts, assumptions and estimates of the future performance of the markets and industries in which we operate are necessarily subject to uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those
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described in “Risk Factors” and “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.” These and other factors could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the estimates made by third parties and by us. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such market and industry data or any other such estimates. Neither we nor the underwriters can guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information, and neither we nor the underwriters have independently verified any third-party information and data from our internal research has not been verified by any independent source.
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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY
This summary highlights information appearing elsewhere in this prospectus. This summary does not contain all of the information you should consider before investing in our common stock. You should read this entire prospectus carefully, including the sections titled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing at the end of this prospectus, before making any investment decision. Our fiscal year ends on December 31. Unless the context otherwise requires, we use the terms “Robinhood,” the “Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” in this prospectus to refer to Robinhood Markets, Inc. and our consolidated subsidiaries, and we use the term “RHM” to refer only to Robinhood Markets, Inc. (and not its subsidiaries). We refer to our “users” and our “customers” interchangeably.
Overview
Our mission is to democratize finance for all.
Robinhood was founded on the belief that everyone should be welcome to participate in our financial system. We are creating a modern financial services platform for everyone, regardless of their wealth, income or background.
The stock market is widely recognized as one of the greatest wealth creators of the last century. But systemic barriers to investing, like expensive commissions, minimum balance requirements and complicated, jargon-filled paperwork, have dissuaded millions of people from feeling welcome or able to participate.
Robinhood has set out to change this. We use technology to deliver a new way for people to interact with the financial system. We believe investing should be familiar and welcoming, with simple design and intuitive interface, so that customers are empowered to achieve their goals. We started with a revolutionary, bold brand and design, and the Robinhood app now makes investing approachable for millions.
Cultural Impact. We pioneered commission-free stock trading with no account minimums that the rest of the industry emulated, and we have continued to build relationships with our customers by introducing new products that further expand access to the financial system. We believe we have made investing culturally relevant and understandable, and that our platform is enabling our customers to become long-term investors and take greater control of their finances.
Built for People. Customer feedback is at the heart of product development at Robinhood. In the early days, our founders would walk the campus of Stanford sharing product and design ideas and gathering real time feedback. Today, we continue this tradition in a programmatic way, seeking customer perspectives to inform our priorities and inspire our innovation. We want to understand our customers and their expectations, ambitions, fears and challenges. Their insights help us focus on what is important and this approach enables us to expand our offering centered on their needs. Many of our customers are new to investing, and we are encouraged to see them taking their first steps toward wealth creation. We have replaced confusing jargon with simplicity and slang. And our tools are delightful and engaging.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 12.5 million Net Cumulative Funded Accounts on our platform, and from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2020, over half of the customers funding accounts on our platform told us that Robinhood was their first brokerage account. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Performance Metrics” for a definition of “Net Cumulative Funded Accounts.”
Technological Innovation. We have built a foundation for future development. With a focused team and appropriate regulatory approvals, we created our own clearing platform. Our platform is entirely
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cloud-based and built on proprietary, API-driven services to meet the needs of a fast-growing, mobile-first, modern financial institution. Our platform also enables a vertically integrated, end-to-end approach to product development, which helps us move faster from idea to creation, empowers us to better scale with the growth of our business and affords us better unit economics that we can share with our customers. Our approach also provides increased internal visibility over clearing and settlement. We anticipate that our self-clearing platform will continue to position us well to further innovate for customers.
Engagement through Education. Education is core to accomplishing our mission. We believe access to easy-to-understand investment information and education is fundamental to expanding participation in the U.S. financial system. This is why we have created educational content for everyone, no matter where they are on their investing journey. That means jargon-free financial literacy resources and digestible financial news direct to customers. As of December 31, 2020, our Robinhood Snacks newsletter and podcast had more than 23 million subscribers, and the daily podcast was downloaded nearly 40 million times in 2020. Our library of financial literacy resources, Robinhood Learn, had more than 3.4 million page views in 2020, and unique visits to Robinhood Learn rose 310% from January to December in 2020.
The Robinhood Platform. Our platform, which began as a U.S. stock focused retail brokerage, currently offers:
trading in U.S. listed stocks and Exchange Traded Funds (“ETFs”), as well as related options and American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”);
cryptocurrency trading through our subsidiary, Robinhood Crypto, LLC (“RHC”);
fractional trading, which enables all of our customers—regardless of budget—to build a diversified portfolio and access stocks previously out of reach;
recurring investments, which help customers make investing routine and employ dollar-cost averaging;
Cash Management, which includes Robinhood-branded debit cards and enables customers to save and spend by paying bills, writing checks, earning interest, withdrawing funds via ATMs and receiving Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) pass-through insurance on cash swept from their brokerage account; and
Robinhood Gold, our monthly paid subscription service that provides customers with premium features, such as enhanced instant access to deposits, professional research, Nasdaq Level II market data and, upon approval, access to margin investing.

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Financial Tool to Financial Network. We have seen an enthusiastic response from customers and are humbled by how often they share Robinhood with their families, friends and colleagues. This powerful word of mouth referral network has helped to rapidly grow our customer base. In 2020, our Net Cumulative Funded Accounts grew 143% to 12.5 million, with over 80% of new Funded Accounts in 2020 joining our platform organically or through our referral program, which credits referring and referred customers with a stock reward typically ranging from $2.50 to $10.00 in value, up to $500 annually per referring customer (the “Robinhood Referral Program”). For the monthly cohorts in the year ended December 31, 2019, our average revenue payback period was approximately 13 months, and for the monthly cohorts in the nine month period ended September 30, 2020, our average revenue payback period improved to less than six months. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Performance Metrics” for definitions of “Funded Accounts” and “revenue payback period.”
For the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019:
our total revenue grew 245% to $959 million, up from $278 million;
we recorded net income of $7 million, compared to a net loss of $107 million; and
our Adjusted EBITDA was $155 million, compared to negative $74 million.
Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for more information about Adjusted EBITDA, including the definition and limitations of such measure, and a reconciliation of net income (loss) to Adjusted EBITDA.
Future Vision. We innovate at the epicenter of finance, technology and access for all. As we look to the future, we want to help Robinhood customers manage all aspects of their financial lives in one place. We envision them moving seamlessly between investing, saving and spending all on the Robinhood platform. When we check our email, there is a go-to app. When we need a map, there is a go-to app. We
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envision a world in which Robinhood is that go-to app for money. We believe people want to build financial independence and have the tools and ability to own their financial well-being. We look forward to being our customers' single money app that enables them to achieve those goals.
Trends in Our Favor
Technology is Transforming Customer Expectations
Across industries, we have witnessed a movement toward products and brands that redefine the customer experience through technology. Today, people can get dinner delivered to their door with two taps on a smartphone, purchase groceries without ever setting foot in a store and conduct morning meetings with hundreds of colleagues from their homes. Innovative technology-based companies are challenging traditional norms and engaging people in new ways.
The nature of these experiences has rapidly advanced customer expectations and demands for intuitive, engaging and easy-to-use products. Brands that empower customers through these types of products are often propelled to cultural relevance. According to PwC, 73% of consumers worldwide point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, and 65% of U.S. consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.
At the same time, smartphone usage has skyrocketed. Not only are smartphones essentially ubiquitous nationwide, they are a dominating force in consumers’ lives. Companies that have been able to leverage mobile technology to deliver market-leading customer experiences continue to reshape legacy industry growth trends and create significant shareholder value.
Increasing Participation in the Financial Markets and the Rise of FinTech Companies
The U.S. stock market is one of the greatest sources of wealth creation in the world. Average historical returns on the S&P 500 amount to approximately 9% annually over the past 50 years. But this great wealth creator has remained out of reach for many individuals and families, while others have had better access, more useful tools and a clearer invitation to participate. That is beginning to change as more and more people are taking their financial lives into their own hands. There are many people still unserved, and we believe we are well placed to help build this momentum toward increased participation.
Since 2010, the S&P 500 has produced an average annual return of approximately 13%. That has coincided with a substantial increase in participation among retail investors seeking to improve their financial health. Retail investing now comprises roughly 20% of U.S. equity trading volume, doubling in the decade from 2010 to 2020. Yet, we believe there is still significant room for growth: according to a 2019 Pew Research survey, approximately 60% of all Americans still do not have investments outside of their retirement accounts, and, according to a 2020 Gallup poll, an even greater percentage of young adults aged 18 to 29—68%—have no money invested in the stock market at all.
FinTech companies offer customer experiences powered by modern and nimble infrastructure as well as intuitive customer interfaces, making these companies well-positioned to rapidly build and deploy innovative products that meet the expectations of the growing generation of digital consumers. This rapid product cycle has led to innovation across the FinTech landscape, with consumers increasingly looking to technology companies for financial products. Nearly two-thirds of Americans, according to a Harris Poll conducted in 2020, would consider purchasing or applying for financial products through a technology company’s platform instead of a traditional financial services provider, and that figure increases to 81% for Americans aged 18 to 34.


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Our Opportunity
Financial services underpin our daily lives. Activities such as investing, saving and spending are core financial activities that offer avenues for Robinhood to grow with our customers throughout their financial journey.
Our current retail brokerage, cryptocurrency trading and Cash Management offerings are the first step toward a comprehensive financial services platform.
Our retail investing platform is currently our core product offering, one we have continued to expand since its launch in 2015. IBISWorld estimates the securities brokerage market in the United States to be greater than $150 billion in revenue, with approximately 54% of that attributed to our core customer base—retail investors. Additionally, from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2020, over half of the customers funding accounts on our platform told us that Robinhood was their first brokerage account. Given that dynamic, we believe we are meaningfully expanding the size of the defined market—bringing in participants who would otherwise not be involved in the financial system. Expanding the universe of investors has been, and we expect will continue to be, a significant driver of our market-leading growth.
Our cryptocurrency trading platform offers commission-free buying and selling of cryptocurrency through our subsidiary, RHC. From February 21, 2018, the day before we introduced cryptocurrency trading on our platform, to December 31, 2020, the total market capitalization of the cryptocurrency market has grown from approximately $450 billion to approximately $775 billion, driven by increased adoption of cryptocurrency trading by both retail and institutional investors, as well as continued growth of various non-investing use cases for crypto-assets. In addition, the worldwide daily average market volume of Bitcoin, which was the most traded cryptocurrency on our platform for the year ended December 31, 2020, was over $39 billion in December 2020, as compared to approximately $8 billion in February 2018. While future market size estimates for the cryptocurrency market are highly varied, the historical trend has been strongly supportive. We believe that growing interest and adoption of cryptocurrency will drive increased customer interest in our platform and that we have significant room to grow even within our current customer base.
Our Cash Management product, which places uninvested customer cash with FDIC-insured banks and offers a competitive interest rate, is highly complementary to our brokerage offering and enhances our overall ecosystem. Cash Management also includes Robinhood-branded debit cards. The FDIC reports that there are over $1 trillion in brokered deposits in the U.S. banking system as of June 30, 2020. Debit interchange also represents an opportunity; the Nilson Report estimates that merchants paid total fees of nearly $24 billion to process debit and prepaid card transactions in 2019, the majority of which are interchange fees. While still a small proportion of our overall revenue, we believe continued adoption of our Cash Management product by existing customers, as well as increased adoption through the expansion of our customer base, will result in meaningful opportunities in the future.
We believe these current product offerings represent only the beginning. Our customers already trust us with their hard-earned cash and assets, positioning us as the first financial services relationship for many new investors and younger generations of investors. We see a significant opportunity to introduce innovative products to address our customers’ future needs—including investing, saving, spending and borrowing—allowing us to grow with new and existing customers from our single money app.
We currently only operate in the United States and offer services only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a legal address within the United States or Puerto Rico. Total global wealth outside of the United States, as of mid-2019, has been estimated at over $250 trillion, according to the Credit Suisse Research Institute. Opportunities like this give us confidence that we can have a meaningful impact at
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driving increased access and market participation outside of the United States, and that the global opportunity for us to democratize finance for all is significant.
What Sets Us Apart
We have built a market-leading financial technology platform with an intuitive customer interface that has changed the landscape of retail investing. While we have already achieved significant growth, we believe we are well positioned to serve an increasing portion of the population and the broader financial services ecosystem.
Creative Product Design
We believe archaic, cumbersome digital platforms reinforce legacy barriers to participation in the financial system. We put design at the center of our product with the goal of building long-term relationships with customers. We involve our talented product designers early and often throughout our product development process to create intuitive and elegant experiences that efficiently address our customers’ needs. Our customer-centric approach has made our platform easy-to-use, informative and familiar in look and feel for a generation of mobile-first customers. For example, to make our customer experience both delightful and informative, we seamlessly integrate information into our platform through Robinhood Learn and our newsfeed, which offers free news from trusted sources including Barron’s, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.
Our products are designed mobile-first, allowing us to offer attractive investing, spending and saving experiences as more people shift their daily financial services activities to the palm of their hands. This simplicity and ease of use has made Robinhood the go-to mobile investing experience, and in 2020 we garnered over half of all new app downloads among mobile investing and trading platforms in the United States (a group comprised of us, Etrade, Fidelity Investments, IBKR, M1 Finance, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Thinkorswim, Vanguard and Webull) according to mobile data and analytics provider App Annie.
Category-Defining Brand
We believe Robinhood today is a symbol of retail investing and finance in America. By taking a fresh, people-centric approach and creating a delightful, engaging customer experience, we believe we have built a trusted, category-defining brand that has made investing socially relevant for the next generation.
The relationship we have built with our customers has led many to want to talk about Robinhood and share their experience with their friends and family. From Robinhood’s inception, a vast majority of our growth has come directly from customers joining our platform organically or through the Robinhood Referral Program. This virality of Robinhood has continued—and even accelerated—since other major brokerages adopted our commission-free model beginning in October 2019. In 2020, over 80% of new Funded Accounts joined our platform organically or through the Robinhood Referral Program. The excitement around Robinhood demonstrates how our innovative approach to financial products has built deep, loyal customer relationships and positioned us well to continue attracting new people to our platform, and sharing new product experiences with our customers.
Financial Services at Internet Scale
Our people-centric approach has driven customer enthusiasm and engagement, resulting in rapid adoption of our products. We designed our platform to provide our customers with relevant, accessible information when they need it most. Being an investor involves following a regular cycle of events—news releases, earnings announcements, transaction executions—that create a regular cadence of content and information.
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We use our platform, from push notifications to widgets, to provide seamless customized updates to our customers. This engenders trust, creates enduring long-term relationships and has resonated with our customers. During 2020, our daily customers (who made up over 40% of our MAUs each month on average) visited our app nearly seven times a day on average and engaged with us for a variety of reasons—to read the news, check their watch lists, manage their cash balances, make investments, and monitor their portfolios. That figure is approximately two to four times higher than other leading FinTech companies during the same time period. We have sustained this level of engagement at scale, with 12.5 million Net Cumulative Funded Accounts as of December 31, 2020. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—What Sets Us Apart—Financial Services at Internet Scale” for a definition of “daily customers” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Performance Metrics” for a definition of “MAUs.”
Vertically Integrated Platform
We design our own products and services and deliver them through a single, app-based platform supported by proprietary technology that has been cloud-based from the start. Our subsidiary, RHF, is a licensed introducing broker-dealer, and our other broker-dealer subsidiary, RHS, is a licensed clearing broker-dealer. Our digitally-native technology stack also gives us control over our product development from end-to-end, enabling faster development times, better customer experiences, stronger unit economics, greater flexibility and a robust and dynamic risk management framework. Our vertically integrated platform has enabled us to rapidly introduce new products and services such as cryptocurrency trading, dividend reinvestment, fractional shares and recurring investments, while also supporting our ability to quickly scale, including onboarding millions of new customers during 2020.
Innovative and Compelling Business Model
We shattered paradigms of traditional financial services by building mobile-first products and services that our customers love to use, with no commission fees or account minimums, resulting in rapid growth and strong unit economics. Our strong brand and platform accessibility has created a network that has enabled us to onboard millions of customers with minimal marketing. For the monthly cohorts in the year ended December 31, 2019, our average revenue payback period was approximately 13 months, and for the monthly cohorts in the nine month period ended September 30, 2020, our average revenue payback period improved to less than six months. Over time, our customers deepen their engagement and relationship with our platform, and our ability to grow with them results in attractive cohort economics, including a nearly three-fold increase in average revenues per user in the first 24 months for both our 2017 and 2018 annual cohorts. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Performance Metrics” for definitions of “revenue payback period” and “cohort.”
Founder-Led, Passionate and Experienced Team
Robinhood was founded in 2013 by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt. Our founders deeply believe that everyone should have access to the financial system. To execute on this mission, we have assembled a world-class executive leadership team that includes Chief Operating Officer Gretchen Howard, previously a Partner at CapitalG, Chief Financial Officer Jason Warnick, who was most recently VP of Finance and Chief of Staff to the Chief Financial Officer at Amazon, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Christina Smedley, previously a VP of Marketing at Facebook, and Chief Legal Officer Daniel Gallagher, previously Chief Legal Officer at Mylan N.V. and SEC Commissioner from 2011 to 2015. See “Management” for more information on our executive leadership team.
Our Growth Strategies
We aim to serve our customers with existing product offerings, grow with our customers over time as they build their wealth and create new and innovative products that are relevant to new and existing
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customers. By doing so, we believe we will be able to continue to rapidly scale our customer base and maintain our market-leading customer engagement.
Key elements of our growth strategy include:
Continuing to Add New Customers to Our Platform. We believe there remains a significant opportunity for us to continue growing our customer base as we attract new investors to financial markets. Historically, the majority of our customers have joined organically or through the Robinhood Referral Program, and we expect that planned increases in marketing in the future will drive higher brand awareness that can further accelerate our growth.
Growing With Our Customers. Many of our customers are just beginning their financial journeys. As our customers grow their wealth, we believe they will continue to expand their relationship with our platform, providing an increased opportunity to meet their growing financial needs.
Continuing Product and Technology Innovation. We intend to continue to invest in our platform through four key areas: product innovation, educational content, technology and infrastructure improvements and customer support.
Expanding Internationally. We believe there is a significant opportunity for Robinhood to grow internationally. Over time, we intend to pursue a disciplined approach to international expansion, including into Europe and Asia.
Our Commitments and Responsibilities
We understand that millions of our customers are using Robinhood to enter the financial markets for the first time, and we take our responsibility to them seriously. We pursue strong, close working relationships with our regulators, and we believe the goals of our regulators and customers are aligned. We are passionate about operating Robinhood in a way that aligns with customer interests, applicable regulations, and with our own mission to democratize finance for all.
Our commitments to our customers include:
No Commission Fees. We believe that everyone should have equal access to financial markets. We pioneered commission-free stock trading with no account minimums.
Quality Execution. We perform regular and rigorous reviews of the execution quality our customers receive from our securities market makers, including the execution price, speed and price improvement.
High Security Standards. We are committed to keeping our customers’ accounts safe. We offer security tools and a promise to reimburse direct losses that happen due to unauthorized activity that is not the fault of our customer.
Extra Protection. RHF and RHS are members of Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”) and we provide our brokerage customers with additional “excess of SIPC” coverage. In addition, our Cash Management product places customer cash with FDIC-insured banks.
Dedicated Support. We aim to respond to our customers as quickly as possible to resolve issues swiftly and will continue to invest in expanding our customer support functions.
Transparency. We aim to operate a transparent business model. We currently dedicate a portion of our website to describing how we make money and we will continue to keep our customers informed about how we generate revenue.
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Summary of Risk Factors
You should consider carefully the risks described under the “Risk Factors” section beginning on page 23 and elsewhere in this prospectus. These risks could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, which could cause the trading price of our common stock to decline and could result in a partial or total loss of your investment. These risks include, but are not limited to, that:
We have a limited operating history, which makes it difficult to evaluate our business and prospects and increases the risks associated with an investment in our common stock.
We have grown rapidly in recent years and we have limited operating experience at our current scale of operations; if we are unable to manage our growth effectively, our financial performance may suffer and our brand and company culture may be harmed.
We may not continue to grow on pace with historical rates.
We have incurred operating losses in the past and may not maintain profitability in the future.
Because a majority of our revenue is derived from payment for order flow (“PFOF”), reduced spreads in securities pricing, reduced levels of trading activity generally and any new regulation of, or any bans on, PFOF practices may result in reduced profitability, increased compliance costs and expanded potential for negative publicity.
We may require additional capital to satisfy our liquidity needs and support business growth and objectives, and this capital might not be available to use on reasonable terms, if at all, may result in stockholder dilution, and may be delayed or prohibited by applicable regulations.
If we do not maintain the capital levels required by regulators and self-regulatory organizations (“SROs”), including the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), or do not satisfy the cash deposit and collateral requirements imposed by certain other SROs such as the Depository Trust Company (the “DTC”), National Securities Clearing Corporation (the “NSCC”) and the Options Clearing Corporation (the “OCC”), our broker-dealer business may be restricted and we may be fined or exposed to significant losses or subject to other disciplinary or corrective actions. In a worst case scenario, failure to maintain these requirements could lead to our broker-dealer business being liquidated or wound down.
Harm to our brand and reputation could adversely affect our business.
Our business and reputation may be harmed by changes in business, economic or political conditions that impact global financial markets, or by a systemic market event.
Our future success depends on the continuing efforts of our key employees and our ability to attract and retain highly skilled personnel and senior management.
We may expand into international markets, which will expose us to significant new risks, and our international expansion efforts may not be successful.
Our business is subject to extensive, complex and changing laws and regulations, and related regulatory proceedings and investigations; changes in these laws and regulations, or our failure to comply with these laws and regulations, could harm our business.
We have been subject to regulatory investigations, actions and settlements and we expect to continue to be subject to such proceedings in the future, which could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business.
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We are involved in numerous litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations.
We operate in highly competitive markets, and many of our competitors have greater resources than we do and may have products and services that may be more appealing than ours to our current or potential customers.
If we fail to retain existing customers or attract new customers, or if our customers decrease their use of our products and services, our growth could be slower than we expect and our business may be harmed.
Our introduction of new products and services, or changes to existing products and services, could fail to attract or retain customers or generate growth and revenue.
If we do not keep pace with industry and technological changes and continue to provide new and innovative products and services, our business may become less competitive and our business may be adversely impacted.
Our platform has been, and may in the future be, subject to interruption and instability due to operational and technological failures, whether internal or external.
We rely on third parties to perform certain key functions, and their failure to perform those functions could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business could be materially and adversely affected by a cybersecurity breach or other attack involving our computer systems or data or those of our customers or third-party service providers.
We collect, store, share, disclose, transfer, use and otherwise process customer information and other data, including personal data, and an actual or perceived failure by us or our third-party service providers to protect such information and data or respect customers' privacy could damage our reputation and brand, negatively affect our ability to retain customers and harm our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows and prospects.
Our compliance and risk management policies and procedures as a regulated financial services company may not be fully effective in identifying or mitigating compliance and risk exposure in all market environments or against all types of risk.
Any failure to obtain, maintain, protect and enforce our intellectual property rights could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our failure to properly handle cash, securities and cryptocurrencies held on behalf of customers could harm our business and reputation.
Concentration of ownership of our common stock among our existing executive officers, directors and principal stockholders may prevent new investors from influencing significant corporate decisions, including mergers, consolidations, or the sale of us or all or substantially all of our assets.
Corporate Information
We were incorporated in the State of Delaware on November 22, 2013. Our principal executive offices are located at 85 Willow Road in Menlo Park, California 94025, and our telephone number at that address is (844) 428-5411. Our website address is www.robinhood.com. Information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference into this prospectus, and you should not consider it to be part of this prospectus.
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“Robinhood Markets, Inc.,” our logo, and other trademarks or trade names of Robinhood appearing in this prospectus are our property. This prospectus also contains trademarks and trade names of other companies, which are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, trademarks and trade names referred to in this prospectus may appear without the ® or ™ symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or the right of the applicable licensor to these trademarks and trade names.
Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company
We qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act. As an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of specified reduced disclosure and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies, including:
presenting only two years of audited financial statements in addition to any required unaudited interim financial statements with correspondingly reduced “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” disclosure in this prospectus;
reduced disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements;
exemption from the requirements to hold non-binding advisory votes on executive compensation and golden parachute payments;
exemption from the auditor attestation requirement in the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting; and
exemption from compliance with any requirement that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board may adopt regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements.
We may take advantage of these exemptions up until the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of this offering or such earlier time that we are no longer an emerging growth company. We would cease to be an emerging growth company earlier if we have more than $1.07 billion in annual revenue, we have more than $700.0 million in market value of our stock held by non-affiliates (and we have been a public company for at least 12 months and have filed one annual report on Form 10-K) or we issue more than $1 billion of non-convertible debt securities over a three-year period. We may choose to take advantage of some, but not all, of the available exemptions. We have taken advantage of certain reduced reporting obligations in this prospectus. Accordingly, the information contained herein may be different than the information you receive from other public companies in which you hold stock.
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THE OFFERING
Common stock offered by us             shares.
Common stock offered by the selling stockholders
             shares.
Underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us
             shares.
Common stock to be outstanding after this
offering

             shares (or             shares if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase an additional             shares from us).
Offering price$     per share.
Use of proceedsWe estimate that our net proceeds from the sale of our common stock in this offering will be approximately $             , assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders.

We intend to use the net proceeds from the sale of shares in this offering for working capital, capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. See “Use of Proceeds.”
Dividend policyWe have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business, and we do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. See “Dividend Policy.”
Risk factors
You should read the “Risk Factors” section beginning on page 23 and the other information included in this prospectus for a discussion of factors to consider before deciding to invest in shares of our common stock.
ListingWe intend to apply to list our common stock on the Nasdaq under the trading symbol “          .”
The number of shares of our common stock to be outstanding after this offering is based on            shares of common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2020, which gives effect to the Assumed Share Events (as defined below) and excludes:
21,543,828 shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of options to purchase shares of our common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2020, with a weighted-average exercise price of $2.19 per share;
shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of warrants to purchase shares of our equity securities, $          aggregate maximum purchase amount of which was outstanding as of           , 2021, assuming an exercise price of $           (which is the lower of (i) 70% of the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and (ii) $38.29);
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37,170,402 shares of our common stock subject to outstanding restricted stock units (“RSUs”) that are issuable upon satisfaction of time-based and liquidity-based vesting conditions (“Time-Based RSUs”) as of December 31, 2020, but for which the time-based vesting condition was not satisfied as of December 31, 2020;
              shares of our common stock subject to outstanding RSUs that are issuable upon satisfaction of market-based vesting conditions (which market-based vesting conditions are based on our initial public offering price) (“Market-Based RSUs”) and quarterly time-based vesting conditions, but for which the quarterly time-based vesting condition was not satisfied as of December 31, 2020, assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus; and
14,022,717 shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2020 Equity Incentive Plan (our “2020 Plan”) as of December 31, 2020.
Except as otherwise noted, all information in this prospectus assumes and reflects (the “Assumed Share Events”):
the filing and effectiveness of our newly amended and restated certificate of incorporation (the “Charter”) and the adoption of our amended and restated bylaws (the “Bylaws”), each of which will occur immediately prior to the completion of this offering;
the automatic conversion, on a one-to-one basis, of all of our outstanding redeemable convertible preferred stock, of which 412,742,897 shares were outstanding as of December 31, 2020, into 412,742,897 shares of our common stock immediately prior to the completion of this offering, as if such conversion had occurred on December 31, 2020 (the “Preferred Share Conversion”);
the automatic conversion of all of our outstanding Tranche I convertible notes, $         aggregate principal amount of which was outstanding as of           , 2021, into          shares of our common stock upon the completion of this offering, assuming a conversion price of $          (which is the lower of (i) 70% of the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and (ii) $38.29), as if such conversion had occurred on December 31, 2020 (the “Tranche I Note Conversion”);
the automatic conversion of all of our outstanding Tranche II convertible notes, $          aggregate principal amount of which was outstanding as of           , 2021, into          shares of our common stock upon the completion of this offering, assuming a conversion price of $          (which is the lower of (i) 70% of the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and (ii) $42.12), as if such conversion had occurred on December 31, 2020 (the “Tranche II Note Conversion” and, together with the Tranche I Note Conversion, the “Convertible Note Conversion”);
the issuance of             shares of our common stock upon the vesting and settlement of outstanding Time-Based RSUs for which both the time-based and the liquidity-based vesting conditions will be met upon the effectiveness of this offering (“IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs”), based on the number of IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs for which the time-based vesting condition was satisfied as of December 31, 2020, after withholding an aggregate of approximately             shares to satisfy the associated estimated income tax obligations (based on an assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $                  per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and an assumed     % tax withholding rate) (the “IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU Settlement”);
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the issuance of            shares of our common stock upon the vesting and settlement of outstanding Market-Based RSUs, assuming the effectiveness of this offering on December 31, 2020 for purposes of any applicable time-based vesting conditions and, for purposes of determining the satisfaction of the market-based vesting condition, an initial public offering price of our common stock of $                     per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after withholding an aggregate of approximately             shares to satisfy the associated estimated income tax obligations (based on an assumed      % tax withholding rate) (the “Market-Based RSU Settlement”);
no exercise of outstanding options or warrants or settlement of outstanding RSUs except as described above; and
no exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase an additional             shares of common stock from us.
For more information about our convertible notes and warrants, see “Certain Relationships and Related Person Transactions—Convertible Note and Warrant Financings.” For more information about our Market-Based RSUs, see “Executive Compensation—Narrative Description of Executive Compensation Arrangements—Market-Based RSUs.”
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SUMMARY HISTORICAL CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND OTHER DATA
The following tables present summary historical consolidated financial and operating data for our business as of the dates and for the periods indicated. The summary consolidated statements of operations data presented below for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2020 and the summary consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2020 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements appearing at the end of this prospectus.
The summary consolidated historical financial and operating data is not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected in any future period. You should read the following summary historical financial and operating data in conjunction with the section of this prospectus entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing at the end of this prospectus. The summary consolidated financial and other data in this section are not intended to replace, and are qualified in their entirety by, our consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this prospectus.
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands)20192020
Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:
Revenues:
Transaction-based revenues$170,831 $720,133 
Net interest revenues70,639 177,437 
Other revenues36,063 61,263 
Total net revenues277,533 958,833 
Operating Expenses:
Brokerage and transaction 45,459 111,083 
Technology and development94,932 215,630 
Operations33,869 137,905 
Marketing124,699 185,741 
General and administrative85,504 294,694 
Total operating expenses384,463 945,053 
Other expense (income), net657 (50)
Income (loss) before income tax(107,587)13,830 
Provision for (benefit from) income taxes(1,018)6,381 
Net income (loss)$(106,569)$7,449 
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As of December 31, 2020
Actual
Pro Forma(1)
Pro Forma As Adjusted(2)(3)(4)
(in thousands)
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data (at period end):
Cash and cash equivalents$1,402,629 $$
Cash and securities segregated under federal and other regulations4,914,660 
Receivables from users, net3,354,142 
Working capital(4)
2,056,539 
Total assets10,988,474 
Long-term debt(5)
— 
Warrants to purchase common stock(6)
— 
Payables to users5,897,242 
Redeemable convertible preferred stock2,179,739 
Total stockholders’ (deficit) equity$(55,322)$$
________________
(1)The pro forma consolidated balance sheet data gives effect to (i) the Preferred Share Conversion, (ii) the Convertible Note Conversion, (iii) the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU Settlement, (iv) the Market-Based RSU Settlement, (v) the related increase in liabilities and corresponding decrease in additional paid-in capital for the associated tax liabilities related to the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU Settlement and the Market-Based RSU Settlement, (vi) stock-based compensation expense of $      related to IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs for which the time-based vesting condition was satisfied or partially satisfied as of December 31, 2020 and Market-Based RSUs, assuming the effectiveness of this offering on December 31, 2020 for purposes of any applicable time-based vesting conditions and, for purposes of determining the satisfaction of the market-based vesting condition, an initial public offering price of our common stock of $       per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, reflected as an increase to additional paid-in capital and accumulated deficit, and (vii) the filing and effectiveness of our Charter in Delaware, which will occur immediately prior to the completion of this offering.
(2)The pro forma as adjusted column in the consolidated balance sheet data table above gives effect to (i) the pro forma adjustments set forth above and (ii) our issuance and sale of      shares of common stock in this offering, assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions, estimated offering expenses payable by us and giving effect to the use of proceeds specified in “Use of Proceeds.”
(3)The pro forma as adjusted information discussed above is illustrative only and will depend on the actual initial public offering price, the number of shares of common stock sold by us in this offering and other terms of this offering determined at pricing. Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $          per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, each of cash and cash equivalents, cash and securities segregated under federal and other regulations, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity on a pro forma as adjusted basis by approximately $          , assuming that the number of shares of common stock offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Similarly, each 1,000,000 share increase or decrease in the number of shares of common stock offered by us in this offering would increase or decrease, as applicable, each of cash and cash equivalents, cash and securities segregated under federal and other regulations, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity on a pro forma as adjusted basis by approximately $          , assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share of our common stock of $          per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
(4)Working capital is defined as current assets less current liabilities.
(5)In February 2021, we issued two tranches of convertible notes, consisting of $2,532.0 million aggregate principal amount of Tranche I convertible notes and $1,020.0 million aggregate principal amount of Tranche II convertible notes. Unless earlier converted, upon the closing of this offering, the convertible notes will automatically convert into shares of our common stock at a conversion price equal to the lower of (i) 70% of the cash price per share paid by investors in this offering and (ii) $38.29 (in the case of the Tranche I convertible notes) or $42.12 (in the case of the Tranche II convertible notes). Interest on the convertible notes accrues at 6% per annum and is payable in kind. For more information about our convertible notes and warrant financings, see “Certain Relationships and Related Person Transactions—Convertible Note and Warrant Financings.”
(6)In connection with our February 2021 convertible note offering, we granted to each purchaser of the Tranche I convertible notes a warrant to purchase a number of shares of equity securities equal to 15% of the aggregate proceeds invested by such purchaser in the Tranche I convertible notes (i.e., $379.8 million in aggregate maximum purchase amount). Following this offering and until the tenth anniversary of their issue date, outstanding warrants will be exercisable for shares of our common stock at an exercise price equal to the lower of (i) 70% of the cash price per share paid by investors in this offering and (ii)
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$38.29. For more information about our convertible notes and warrant financing, see “Certain Relationships and Related Person Transactions—Convertible Note and Warrant Financings.”
Key Performance Metrics
In addition to the measures presented in our consolidated financial statements, we use the following key business metrics to help us evaluate our business, identify trends affecting our business, formulate business plans and make strategic decisions:
Year or Month Ended
December 31,
(in millions)20192020
Net Cumulative Funded Accounts(1)
5.1 12.5 
Monthly Average Users (MAU)(2)
4.311.7
Assets Under Custody (AUC)(3)
$14,135.6 $62,977.8 
________________
(1)Net Cumulative Funded Accounts. We define Net Cumulative Funded Accounts as the total of Net Funded Accounts from inception to a stated date or period end. “Net Funded Accounts” is the total number of Funded Accounts for a stated period, excluding “churned users” and including “resurrected users” as of the end of that period. A “Funded Account” is a Robinhood account into which the account user makes an initial deposit or money transfer, of any amount, during the relevant period. Users are considered “churned” if their accounts were previously Funded Accounts and their account balance drops to or below zero dollars for 45 consecutive calendar days. Users are considered “resurrected” if they were considered churned users during and as of the end of the immediately preceding period, and had their account balance increase above zero (and are not considered churned users) in the current period.
(2)Monthly Average Users (“MAU”). We define MAU as the number of Monthly Active Users during a specified calendar month. A “Monthly Active User” is a unique user who makes a debit card transaction, transitions between two different screens on a mobile device or who loads a page in a web browser, at any point during the relevant month. A user need not have a Funded Account to be included in MAU. Figures in the table reflect MAU for December of each year presented.
(3)Assets Under Custody (“AUC”). We define AUC as the sum of the fair value of all equities, options, cryptocurrency and cash held by users in their accounts, net of customer margin balances, as of a stated date or period end.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
Adjusted EBITDA
We collect and analyze operating and financial data to evaluate the health of our business, allocate our resources and assess our performance. In addition to total net revenue, net income (loss) and other results under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), we utilize non-GAAP calculations of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”). Adjusted EBITDA is defined as net income (loss), excluding (i) provision for (benefit from) income taxes, (ii) interest expense on credit facilities, (iii) depreciation and amortization, (iv) share-based compensation expense and (v) certain legal and tax settlements, reserves and expenses.
The above items are excluded from our Adjusted EBITDA measure because these items are non-cash in nature, or because the amount and timing of these items is unpredictable, is not driven by core results of operations and renders comparisons with prior periods and competitors less meaningful. We believe Adjusted EBITDA provides useful information to investors and others in understanding and evaluating our results of operations, as well as providing a useful measure for period-to-period comparisons of our business performance. Moreover, we have included Adjusted EBITDA in this prospectus because it is a key measurement used by our management internally to make operating decisions, including those related to operating expenses, evaluate performance, and perform strategic planning and annual budgeting. However, this non-GAAP financial information is presented for supplemental informational purposes only, should not be considered a substitute for or superior to financial information presented in accordance with GAAP and may be different from similarly titled non-
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GAAP measures used by other companies. The following table presents a reconciliation of net income (loss), the most directly comparable GAAP measure, to Adjusted EBITDA:
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands)20192020
Net income (loss)$(106,569)$7,449 
Add:
Interest expenses related to credit facilities 991 4,882 
Provision for (benefit from) income taxes(1,018)6,381 
Depreciation and amortization5,444 9,938 
EBITDA (non-GAAP)(101,152)28,650 
Share-based compensation26,667 24,330 
Certain legal and tax settlements, reserves and expenses(1)
— 101,600 
Adjusted EBITDA (non-GAAP)$(74,485)$154,580 
________________
(1)Certain legal and tax settlements, reserves and expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020 includes (i) the payment of $65 million made by RHF to the SEC in connection with the settlement we entered into with the SEC, on a neither admit nor deny basis, following the investigation by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement into RHF’s best execution and PFOF practices, as well as statements concerning its source of revenue, (ii) the charge of $26.6 million for potential resolution of certain FINRA matters, including the March 2020 Outages and options trading and related customer communications and displays, and (iii) the charge of $10 million for potential resolution of an NYDFS matter focused primarily on anti-money laundering and cybersecurity-related issues. For more information about these matters, see “Business—Legal Proceedings.”
See “—Key Performance Metrics” and “—Non-GAAP Financial Measures” under the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for more information.
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RISK FACTORS
Investing in our common stock involves risks. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information included in this prospectus, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes appearing at the end of this prospectus, before deciding to invest in our common stock. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected by any of these risks or uncertainties. In that case, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you could lose all or part of your investment. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties that we are unaware of or that we currently see as immaterial may also adversely affect our business. Some statements in this prospectus, including statements in the following risk factors, constitute forward-looking statements. Please refer to “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”
Risks Related to Our Business
We have a limited operating history, which makes it difficult to evaluate our business and prospects and increases the risks associated with an investment in our common stock.
We began operations in 2013, publicly launched our first product in 2015, and have since continued to introduce new products and services to our platform, such as buying and selling of select cryptocurrencies in 2018, our cash management services (which we refer to as our “Cash Management” product) in 2019 and our fractional shares program in 2020. As a result, our business model has not been fully proven and we have limited financial data that can be used to evaluate our current business and future prospects, which subjects us to a number of uncertainties, including our ability to plan for, model and manage future growth and risks. Our historical revenue growth should not be considered indicative of our future performance. For example, our operating history has coincided with an eight-year period of general macroeconomic growth in the United States, particularly in U.S. equity markets, as well as growth in the financial services and technology industries in which we operate. We therefore have not experienced any prolonged downturn or slowdown in macroeconomic or industry growth or any significant downturn in U.S. equity markets and cannot assure that we will be able to respond effectively to any such downturn or slowdown in the future. We have also encountered, and will continue to encounter, risks and difficulties frequently experienced by growing companies in rapidly changing and heavily regulated industries, including achieving market acceptance of our products and services, attracting and retaining customers, complying with laws and regulations that are subject to evolving interpretations and application and increasing competition and expenses as we expand our business. We cannot be sure that we will be successful in addressing these and other challenges we may face, and our business may be adversely affected if we do not manage these risks successfully. In addition, we may not achieve sufficient revenue to maintain positive cash flows from operations or profitability in any given period, or at all.
We have grown rapidly in recent years and we have limited operating experience at our current scale of operations. If we are unable to manage our growth effectively, our financial performance may suffer and our brand and company culture may be harmed.
We have expanded our operations rapidly and have limited operating experience at our current size and scale. Between December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2020, our employee headcount increased from 289 to approximately 1,600, and we expect rapid headcount growth to continue for the foreseeable future. Further, our continued growth could strain our existing resources, and we could experience ongoing operating difficulties in managing our business across numerous jurisdictions, including difficulties in hiring, training and managing a dispersed and growing employee base. Competition for skilled personnel in our industry is intense, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, where our headquarters is located and where we have a substantial presence and need for highly skilled personnel,
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and if we are unable to recruit and retain enough suitable personnel to support our growth as we seek to expand our operations, we may be unable to successfully expand or maintain our operations or achieve our corporate objectives.
We believe that a critical component of our success has been our corporate culture. We have invested substantial time and resources in building our team. As we continue to grow, including geographically expanding our presence, expanding through acquisitions of other businesses or talent and through developing our infrastructure, we will need to maintain our corporate culture among a larger number of employees dispersed in various geographic regions. Failure to scale and preserve our company culture as we grow could also harm our future success, including our ability to retain and recruit personnel and to effectively focus on and pursue our corporate objectives. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including our transition to having a more dispersed, remote-working employee base, may exacerbate these challenges. Any failure to preserve our culture could negatively affect our future success, including our ability to retain, integrate and recruit personnel and to effectively focus on and pursue our corporate objectives.
Our growth strategy contemplates a significant increase in marketing spend, investing in customer support, expansion into new countries and markets, enhancements to our current offerings and development of new products and services, and we cannot guarantee that we will be successful in these efforts. In addition, our business is highly dependent on our technology platform, and we also rely on certain third-party service providers and computer systems. Any failure to maintain or upgrade our technology or network infrastructure effectively to support our growth, or any interruption in the third-party services or deterioration in the quality of their service or performance, could result in unanticipated system disruptions, platform outages or other performance problems which have in the past and may in the future result in costly litigation, regulatory and U.S. Congressional inquiries, examinations and investigations, customer dissatisfaction, arbitration and complaints and reputational harm and may have an adverse effect on our business. See also “Risks Related to Our Platform, Systems and Technology—Our platform has been, and may in the future be, subject to interruption and instability due to operational and technological failures, whether internal or external” and “Risks Related to Our Platform, Systems and Technology—We rely on third parties to perform certain key functions, and their failure to perform those functions could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.” Further, any growth must be accomplished in a manner that is consistent with regulatory requirements that apply to our business. If we do not adapt to meet these evolving challenges and requirements, or if our management team does not effectively scale with our growth, we may experience erosion to our brand, the quality of our products and services may suffer, we may face regulatory obstacles, including adverse enforcement actions, other regulatory restrictions or limitations or failure to obtain regulatory approvals required for certain types of growth, and our company culture may be harmed. We may also experience difficulties in providing adequate customer support to our growing customer base. Failure to improve, maintain or increase customer support now or in the future may inhibit our growth.
Because we have limited experience operating our business at its current scale, it is difficult to evaluate our current business and future prospects, including our ability to plan for and model future growth. Our limited operating experience at this scale, combined with the rapidly evolving nature of the market for our products and services, substantial uncertainty concerning how these markets may develop, the complex regulatory regimes applicable to different aspects of our business and other factors beyond our control, reduces our ability to accurately forecast quarterly or annual revenue and to predict the risks and challenges we may encounter. Failure to manage our future growth effectively could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may not continue to grow on pace with historical rates.
We have grown rapidly over the last few years, and therefore our recent revenue growth rate and financial performance should not be considered indicative of our future performance. In particular, since March 2020, we have experienced a significant increase in revenue, MAUs, AUC and Net Cumulative Funded Accounts. For example, for the years ended 2019 and 2020, our revenue was $277.5 million and
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$958.8 million, respectively, representing a 245% growth rate. The circumstances that have accelerated the growth of our business may not continue in the future, and we expect the growth rates in revenue, MAUs, AUC and Net Cumulative Funded Accounts to decline in future periods, and such declines could be significant. You should not rely on our revenue or key business metrics for any previous quarterly or annual period as any indication of our revenue, revenue growth, key business metrics or key business metrics growth in future periods. In particular, our revenue growth rate has fluctuated in prior periods. Our revenue growth rate is likely to decline in future periods as the size of our business grows and as we achieve higher market adoption rates. We may also experience declines in our revenue growth rate as a result of a number of factors, including slowing demand for our platform, insufficient growth in the number of customers that utilize our platform, increasing competition, a decrease in the growth of our overall market, our failure to continue to capitalize on growth opportunities, including as a result of our inability to scale to meet such growth, an insufficient number of market makers or the unwillingness or inability of our existing market makers to execute our customers’ trade orders as order volumes increase, increasing regulatory costs, increasing capital requirements imposed by regulators and SROs, as well as cash deposit and collateral requirements under the rules of the DTC, NSCC and OCC, economic conditions that reduce financial activity and the maturation of our business, among others. If our revenue growth rate declines, investors’ perceptions of our business and the trading price of our common stock could be adversely affected.
Our results of operations and other operating metrics may fluctuate from quarter to quarter, which makes these metrics difficult to predict.
Our results of operations are heavily reliant on the level of trading activity on our platform and net deposits. In the past, our results of operations and other operating metrics have fluctuated from quarter to quarter, including due to movements and trends in the underlying markets, changes in general economic conditions and fluctuations in trading levels, each of which is outside our control and will continue to be outside of our control. Additionally, our limited operating history makes it difficult to forecast our future results. As a result, period-to-period comparisons of our results of operations may not be meaningful, and our past results of operations should not be relied on as indicators of future performance. Further, we are subject to additional risks and uncertainties that are frequently encountered by companies in rapidly evolving markets. Our financial condition and results of operations in any given quarter can be influenced by numerous factors, many of which we are unable to predict or are outside of our control, which could include:
the continued market acceptance of our products and services;
our ability to retain existing customers and attract new customers;
our continued development and improvement of our products and services, including our intellectual property, proprietary technology and customer support functions;
the timing and success of new product and service introductions by us or our competitors, or other changes in the competitive landscape of our market;
increases in marketing, sales and other operating expenses that we may incur to grow and expand our operations and to remain competitive;
the timing and amount of non-cash expenses, such as stock-based compensation and asset impairment;
the success of our expansion into new markets, products and services, such as cryptocurrency trading, fractional shares trading or our Cash Management product;
decreased trading in global markets or decreased demand for financial services products generally;
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continued growth in the adoption and use of cryptocurrencies and the public perception thereof;
system disruptions, outages and other performance problems or interruptions on our platform, or breaches of security or privacy;
disputes with our customers, adverse litigation and regulatory judgments, enforcement actions, settlements or other related costs and the public perception thereof;
fraudulent, unlawful or otherwise inappropriate customer behavior, such as when customers initiate deposits into their accounts, make trades on our platform using a short-term extension of credit from us, and then repatriate or reverse the deposits, resulting in a loss to us of the credited amount (which we refer to as “Fraudulent Deposit Transactions”);
changes in the legislative or regulatory environment, scope or focus of regulatory investigations and inquiries, or interpretations of regulatory requirements;
our development of any unique features or services that may be the subject of regulatory criticism or form the basis for regulatory enforcement action, including regulatory actions to prohibit certain practices or features;
the overall tax rate for our business, which may be affected by any changes to our valuation allowance, domestic deferred tax assets, and the effects of changes in our business;
changes in tax laws or judicial or regulatory interpretations of tax laws, which are recorded in the period such laws are enacted or interpretations are issued, and may significantly affect the effective tax rate of that period;
changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations or principles;
changes in requirements imposed on us by regulators or by our counterparties, including net capital requirements imposed by the SEC and FINRA and cash deposit and collateral requirements imposed by the DTC, NSCC and OCC;
volatility in the overall market which could, among other things, impact demand for our services, the magnitude of our cash deposit and collateral requirements and our growth strategy and business more generally; and
general economic conditions in either domestic or international markets, including the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Any one of the factors above or the cumulative effect of some of the factors above may result in significant fluctuations in our results of operations.
We have incurred operating losses in the past and may not maintain profitability in the future.
We incurred operating losses each year since our inception in 2013 through 2019, including net losses of $6.1 million, $57.5 million and $106.6 million for fiscal 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. We expect our operating expenses to continue to increase in the future as we increase our sales and marketing efforts, continue to invest in research and development, further develop our products and services, improve and expand our customer support functions and expand into new geographies. These efforts and additional expenses may be more costly than we expect, and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to increase our revenue by an amount sufficient to offset our increased operating expenses or to become profitable. Our revenue growth may slow or our revenue may decline for a number of other reasons, which could include slowing demand for our platform, insufficient growth in the number of customers that utilize our platform, increasing competition, a decrease in the growth of our overall market, our failure to continue to capitalize on growth opportunities, including as a result of our inability to scale to
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meet such growth, an insufficient number of market makers or the unwillingness or inability of our existing market makers to execute our customers’ trade orders as order volumes increase, increasing regulatory costs, increasing capital requirements imposed by regulators and SROs, as well as cash deposit and collateral requirements under the rules of the DTC, NSCC and OCC, economic conditions that reduce financial activity and the maturation of our business, among others. If we are unable to successfully address these risks and challenges as we encounter them, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected. If we are unable to generate adequate revenue growth and offset our operating expenses, we may continue to incur significant losses and may not be able to maintain profitability in the future.
Because a majority of our revenue is derived from PFOF, reduced spreads in securities pricing, reduced levels of trading activity generally and any new regulation of, or any bans on, PFOF practices may result in reduced profitability, increased compliance costs and expanded potential for negative publicity.
A majority of our revenue is derived from PFOF, in which we receive cash payments in exchange for routing our users’ trade orders to market makers for execution. In the case of equities, these cash payments are typically based on the size of the publicly quoted bid-ask spread for the security being traded; that is, we receive a fixed percentage of the difference between the publicly quoted bid and ask at the time the trade is executed. For options, our fee is on a per contract basis based on the underlying security. In the case of cryptocurrencies, our fee is a fixed percentage of the notional order value.
For the year ended December 31, 2020, revenue derived from PFOF represented 75% of our total revenues. Computer-generated buy/sell programs and other technological advances and regulatory changes in the marketplace may continue to tighten spreads on transactions, which could lead to a decrease in our transaction-based revenue earned from market makers. Our transaction-based revenue could also be harmed by decreased levels of trading generally or any unwillingness on behalf of market makers to continue to receive orders from us or to pay us for those orders, including as a result of unusually high volatility, particularly if such market makers were to stop taking orders from us with no or little notice. Any decrease in transaction-based revenue from market makers could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
PFOF practices have drawn heightened scrutiny from the U.S. Congress, the SEC and other regulatory and legislative authorities. For example, in November 2018, the SEC amended its rules relating to broker-dealer disclosure of order handling and routing to require that, among other things, such public disclosures must now describe any terms of PFOF arrangements and profit-sharing relationships that may influence a broker-dealer’s routing decision. Additionally, our PFOF practices were the subject of a line of critical questioning during a February 18, 2021 U.S. Congressional hearing related to the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions (defined below under “—We may require additional capital to satisfy our liquidity needs and support business growth and objectives, and this capital might not be available to use on reasonable terms, if at all, may result in stockholder dilution, and may be delayed or prohibited by applicable regulations”), in which our Co-Founder and CEO, Vladimir Tenev, provided testimony. There is no guarantee that the SEC, other regulatory authorities or legislative bodies will not adopt additional regulation or legislation relating to PFOF practices as a result of such heightened scrutiny or otherwise, including regulation that could substantially limit or ban such practices, or pursue additional inquiries or investigations relating to PFOF practices. For example, in May 2019, the SEC’s Division of Enforcement commenced an investigation into our best execution and PFOF practices, alleging that we did not conduct a regular and rigorous review of our execution quality, resulting in certain customers experiencing lower execution quality, and that we made certain materially misleading misstatements regarding our sources of revenue, which may have misled investors about the extent of our PFOF practices. The investigation resulted in a settlement (in connection with which we neither admitted nor denied those allegations) and payment by our subsidiary, Robinhood Financial, LLC (“RHF”), of a $65 million fine in December 2020 and a requirement to retain an independent consultant. Also in December 2020 and in January 2021, putative class actions were filed against us in a federal district court
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generally relating to the same factual allegations as the SEC matter that settled in December 2020, as described under “Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We have been subject to regulatory investigations, actions and settlements and we expect to continue to be subject to such proceedings in the future, which could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business.” See “Business—Legal Proceedings.” Any new or heightened PFOF regulation may result in increased compliance costs and otherwise may materially decrease our transaction-based revenue. Because certain of our competitors either do not engage in PFOF or derive a lower percentage of their revenues from PFOF than we do, any such heightened regulation or ban of PFOF could have an outsize impact on our results of operations. Furthermore, heightened regulation increases our risk of potential regulatory violations, which could result in fines or other penalties, as well as negative publicity, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For more information about the regulation of our PFOF practices, see “Business—Regulation—Best Execution.”
Additionally, any negative publicity surrounding PFOF practices generally, or our implementation of PFOF practices, could harm our brand and reputation. If our customers begin to disfavor PFOF practices due to negative media attention, they may have an adverse view of our business model and decide to limit or cease the use of our platform. Additionally, some customers may prefer to invest through our competitors that do not engage in PFOF or have different PFOF practices, and utilize their trading platforms instead. Any such loss of customer engagement as a result of any negative publicity associated with PFOF practices could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Proposed legislation that would impose taxes on certain financial transactions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Certain members of the U.S. Congress and individual state legislatures have proposed the imposition of new taxes on a broad range of financial transactions, including transactions that occur on our platform, such as the buying and selling of stocks and derivative transactions. For example, the Wall Street Tax Act of 2021, H.R. 328, which was introduced into the U.S. Congress in January 2021, would impose a 0.1% excise tax on certain covered transactions. If enacted, such financial transaction taxes could increase the cost to customers of investing or trading on our platform and reduce or adversely affect U.S. market conditions and liquidity, general levels of interest in investing and the volume of trades and other transactions from which we derive transaction revenues. While it is difficult to assess the impact the proposed taxes could have on us, if a financial transaction tax is implemented in any jurisdiction in which we operate, our business, financial condition or results of operations could suffer a material adverse effect, and we could be impacted to a greater degree than other market participants.
We may require additional capital to satisfy our liquidity needs and support business growth and objectives, and this capital might not be available to use on reasonable terms, if at all, may result in stockholder dilution, and may be delayed or prohibited by applicable regulations.
Maintaining adequate liquidity is crucial to our securities brokerage and our money services business operations, including key functions such as transaction settlement, custody requirements and margin lending. We meet our liquidity needs primarily from working capital and cash generated by customer activity, as well as from external debt and equity financing. Increases in the number of customers, fluctuations in customer cash or deposit balances, as well as market conditions or changes in regulatory treatment of customer deposits, may affect our ability to meet our liquidity needs. Our broker-dealer subsidiaries, RHF and Robinhood Securities, LLC (“RHS”), are each subject to Rule 15c3-1 under the Exchange Act (the “Uniform Net Capital Rule”), which specifies minimum capital requirements intended to ensure the general financial soundness and liquidity of broker-dealers, and RHS is subject to Rule 15c3-3 under the Exchange Act, which requires broker-dealers to maintain certain liquidity reserves. In addition, as a clearing and carrying broker-dealer, RHS is subject to cash deposit and collateral requirements under the rules of the DTC, NSCC and OCC, which may fluctuate significantly from time to time based upon the nature and volume of customers’ trading activity and volatility in the market or individual
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securities. Because stock trades generally settle at the clearinghouse two days after execution (a settlement cycle referred to as “T+2”), clearinghouses require RHS to deposit funds to ensure that RHS can meet its settlement obligations. These deposit requirements are designed to mitigate risk to the clearinghouse and its participants and can be large, especially if positions are concentrated in particular stocks, are predominantly in the same direction (i.e., predominantly buys or predominantly sells) or if the stock market is volatile. The funds deposited are RHS funds and, under SEC rules, customer funds are not available to be used to satisfy clearinghouse deposit requirements. If we fail to meet any such deposit requirements, our ability to settle trades through the clearinghouse may be suspended or we may be forced to restrict trading in certain stocks in order to limit clearinghouse deposit requirements. For example, from January 28 to February 5, 2021, due to increased deposit requirements imposed on RHS by NSCC in response to unprecedented market volatility, particularly in certain securities, we temporarily prevented our customers from purchasing certain specified securities, including GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc., on our trading platform (the “Early 2021 Trading Restrictions”). This resulted in negative media attention, customer dissatisfaction, litigation and regulatory and U.S. Congressional inquiries and investigations, capital raising by us in order to lift the trading restrictions while remaining in compliance with our net capital and deposit requirements and reputational harm. We cannot assure that similar events will not occur in the future. See “Business—Legal Proceedings—Early 2021 Trading Restrictions Matters” and “—Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We are involved in numerous litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations” for more information about the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions, and see “Business—Regulation—Brokerage Regulation and Regulatory Capital and Deposit Requirements” for more information about the regulation of our broker-dealer entities, as well as our net capital and deposit requirements.
A reduction in our liquidity position could reduce our customers’ confidence in us, which could result in the withdrawal of customer assets and loss of customers, or could cause us to fail to satisfy broker-dealer or other regulatory capital guidelines, which may result in immediate suspension of securities activities, regulatory prohibitions against certain business practices, increased regulatory inquiries and reporting requirements, increased costs, fines, penalties or other sanctions, including suspension or expulsion by the SEC, FINRA or other SROs or state regulators, and could ultimately lead to the liquidation of our broker-dealers or other regulated entities. Factors which may adversely affect our liquidity positions include temporary liquidity demands due to timing differences between brokerage transaction settlements and the availability of segregated cash balances, timing differences between cryptocurrency transaction settlements between us and our cryptocurrency market makers and between us and our cryptocurrency customers, fluctuations in cash held in customer accounts, a significant increase in our margin lending activities, increased regulatory capital requirements, changes in regulatory guidance or interpretations, other regulatory changes or a loss of market or customer confidence resulting in unanticipated withdrawals of customer assets. See “—Risks Related to Our Brokerage Products and Services—Any inability to maintain adequate banking relationships with respect to our Cash Management product may adversely affect our business” for more information.
In addition to requiring liquidity for our securities brokerage business, cryptocurrency business and our other regulated businesses, we may also require additional capital to continue to support the growth of our business and respond to competitive challenges, including the need to promote our products and services, develop new products and services, enhance our existing products, services and operating infrastructure, and acquire and invest in complementary businesses and technologies.
When available cash is not sufficient for our liquidity and growth needs, we may need to engage in equity or debt financings to secure additional funds. There can be no assurance that such additional funding will be available on terms attractive to us, or at all, and our inability to obtain additional funding when needed could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. If additional funds are raised through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, our stockholders could suffer significant dilution, and any new shares we issue in connection therewith could have rights, preferences and privileges superior to those of our current stockholders. Any debt financing
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secured by us in the future could involve restrictive covenants relating to our capital raising activities and other financial and operational matters, which may make it more difficult for us to obtain additional capital and to pursue future business opportunities.
Our clearing operations expose us to liability for errors in clearing functions.
Our broker-dealer subsidiary, RHS, provides clearing and execution services, which include the confirmation, receipt, settlement and delivery functions involved in securities transactions. Clearing brokers also assume direct responsibility for the possession and control of customer securities and other assets and the clearance of customer securities transactions. Self-clearing securities firms are subject to substantially more regulatory control and examination than introducing brokers that rely on others to perform clearing functions. Errors in performing clearing functions, including clerical and other errors related to the handling of funds and securities held by us on behalf of customers, could lead to (i) civil penalties, as well as losses and liability as a result of related lawsuits brought by customers and others and any out-of-pocket costs associated with remediating customers for any losses incurred in connection therewith, and (ii) the risk of fines or other regulatory actions by regulators.
Harm to our brand and reputation could adversely affect our business.
Our brand and our reputation are two of our most important assets. Our reputation, brand and ability to build trust with existing and new customers may be adversely affected by complaints and negative publicity about us, our platform and customers that utilize our platform or our competitors’ platforms, even if factually incorrect or based on isolated incidents. Our ability to attract and retain customers is highly dependent upon external perceptions of our company, and damage to our brand and reputation may be caused by:
actual or perceived system disruptions, outages, interruptions or other performance problems of our platform or similar incidents, cybersecurity attacks or other security incidents, payment disruptions or other incidents that impact the reliability of our platform;
privacy or data security breaches or other security incidents;
complaints or negative publicity about us, our platform, our management team, our other employees or contractors, our customers or third-party service providers;
actual or alleged illegal, negligent, reckless, fraudulent or otherwise inappropriate behavior by our management team, our other employees or contractors, our customers or third-party service providers;
litigation involving, or regulatory actions or investigations into, our platform or our business, including litigation or arbitration and regulatory and U.S. Congressional inquiries related to the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions;
a failure to comply with legal, tax and regulatory requirements;
any perceived or actual weakness in our financial strength or liquidity;
a failure by RHS to meet any capital requirements imposed by regulators and SROs, such as the SEC and FINRA, or any cash deposit and collateral requirements imposed by certain other SROs such as the DTC, NSCC and OCC, especially in the event of high volatility in market conditions or individual securities, unusually high trading volume or account sign-ups or a high concentration of net buying in a particular stock, which could lead to our temporarily restricting trading in stocks in order to limit clearinghouse deposit requirements (as in the case of the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions);
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any regulatory action that results in changes to, or prohibits us from offering, certain features or services;
changes to our policies, features or services that customers or others perceive as overly restrictive, unclear, inconsistent with our values or mission, or not clearly articulated;
a failure to operate our business in a way that is consistent with our values and mission;
inadequate or unsatisfactory customer support experiences, including as a result of our inability to successfully and timely improve, maintain or increase our customer support capabilities. For example, we do not currently provide customer support by telephone other than for certain limited options-related queries, which may limit potential or existing customers’ access to support;
negative responses by customers or regulators to our business model;
negative responses by customers or regulators to new features or services, or changes to existing features or services, on our platform;
a failure to adapt to new or changing customer preferences;
a sustained downturn in U.S. equity markets or in general economic conditions, which could cause our existing customers to incur losses and, as a result, affect our existing and potential new customers’ interest in our products and services; and
any of the foregoing with respect to our competitors, to the extent the resulting negative perception affects the public’s perception of us or our industry as a whole.
These and other events that may harm our brand and reputation could diminish customer confidence in, and use of, our products and services and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Such events could also cause our stockholders to sell or otherwise dispose of a significant number of shares of our common stock, which may have a significant adverse effect on the trading price of our common stock.
Our business and reputation may be harmed by changes in business, economic or political conditions that impact global financial markets, or by a systemic market event.
As a financial services company, our business, results of operations and reputation are directly affected by elements beyond our control, such as economic and political conditions, changes in the volatility in financial markets (including volatility as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), significant increases in the volatility or trading volume of particular securities, broad trends in business and finance, changes in volume of securities trading generally, changes in the markets in which such transactions occur and changes in how such transactions are processed. These elements can arise suddenly and the full impact of such conditions can remain uncertain. A prolonged weakness in equity markets, such as a slowdown causing reduction in trading volume in securities, derivatives or cryptocurrency markets, may result in reduced revenues and would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Significant downturns in the securities markets or in general economic and political conditions may also cause individuals to be reluctant to make their own investment decisions and thus decrease the demand for our products and services and could also result in our customers reducing their engagement with our platform. Conversely, significant upturns in the securities markets or in general economic and political conditions may cause individuals to be less proactive in seeking ways to improve the returns on their trading or investment decisions and, thus, decrease the demand for our products and services. Any of these changes could cause our future performance to be uncertain or unpredictable, and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, some market participants could be overleveraged. In case of sudden, large price movements, such market participants may not be able to meet their obligations to their respective brokers
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who, in turn, may not be able to meet their obligations to their counterparties. As a result, the financial system or a portion thereof could suffer, and the impact of such an event could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, a prolonged weakness in the U.S. equity markets or a general economic downturn could cause our customers to incur losses, which in turn could cause our brand and reputation to suffer. If our reputation is harmed, the willingness of our existing customers, and potential new customers, to do business with us could be negatively impacted, which would adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are also monitoring developments related to the decision by the U.K. to leave the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020 (“Brexit”) following the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020. On December 24, 2020, the U.K. and the EU agreed to enter into the EU-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which negotiated some of the key aspects of the U.K. and EU post-Brexit relationship. Brexit and the EU-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement could have implications for our U.K. subsidiary and could lead to economic and legal uncertainty, including significant volatility in global stock markets and currency exchange rates, and increasingly divergent laws, regulations and licensing requirements for any operations we conduct or may conduct in the U.K. or EU in the future as the U.K. determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. Any of these effects of Brexit, among others, could adversely affect our operations and financial results.
The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, financial condition and results of operations is uncertain.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, we have seen substantial growth in our customer base, retention, engagement and trading activity metrics, as well as continued gains and periodic all-time highs achieved by the equity markets generally. During this period, market volatility, stay-at-home orders and increased interest in investing and personal finance helped foster an environment that encouraged an unprecedented number of first-time retail investors to become Robinhood customers and begin trading on the Robinhood platform. It is uncertain whether these trends and behavioral shifts will continue as reopening measures continue, and we may not be able to maintain the customer base we gained, or the rate of growth in our customer base that we experienced, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, to the extent that government stimulus measures enacted in response to the pandemic have contributed to this increase in customer engagement, there could be a negative impact on future customer engagement if no additional stimulus measures are taken. Further, if the financial markets experience a downturn from recent highs, we may have difficulty retaining customers, particularly any first-time retail investors, who elect not to continue to invest in the financial markets by trading on our platform or at all as a result of any such downturn, a lack of access to additional stimulus funds, the ability to resume pre-COVID-19 activities or otherwise. To the extent that customer preferences revert to pre-COVID-19 behaviors and these metrics do not continue to improve, or if their growth is slowed as mitigation measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 are lifted or the financial markets experience additional or reduced volatility or decline, there could be an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the COVID-19 pandemic and the various measures instituted by governments and businesses to mitigate its spread, including travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and quarantine restrictions, could adversely impact our customers, employees and business partners, and continue to disrupt our operations, including as the pandemic contributes to a general slowdown in the global economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted, in part, in inefficiencies or delays in our business, operational challenges, additional costs related to business continuity initiatives as our workforce has fully transitioned to remote working and increased vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks or other privacy or data security incidents. The extent of the impact of COVID-19 on our business, financial condition and results of operations will depend largely on future developments, including the duration of the pandemic, actions taken to contain COVID-19 or address its impact, the ability to reintegrate our workforce or of our workforce to adapt to the long-term distributed workforce model (with some employees part- or full-time
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remote, and others not) we expect to adopt, the impact on capital and financial markets and the related impact on the financial circumstances of our customers, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted. Even after the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided, we may continue to experience adverse impacts to our business as a result of the global economic impact, including the availability of credit, adverse impacts on our liquidity and any recession that has occurred or may occur in the future. A sustained or prolonged COVID-19 pandemic or a resurgence could exacerbate the factors described above and intensify the impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our future success depends on the continuing efforts of our key employees and our ability to attract and retain highly skilled personnel and senior management.
Our future success depends, in part, on our ability to continue to identify, attract, develop, integrate and retain qualified and highly skilled personnel. In particular, our Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), Vladimir Tenev, and our Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Baiju Bhatt, have been critical to the development of our business, vision and strategic direction. In addition, we have heavily relied, and expect we will continue to heavily rely, on the services and performance of Mr. Tenev and our senior management team, which provides leadership, contributes to the core areas of our business and helps us to efficiently execute our business. If the senior management team, including any new hires that we make, fails to work together effectively and to execute our plans and strategies on a timely basis then our business and future growth prospects could be harmed.
Additionally, the loss of any key personnel could make it more difficult to manage our operations and research and development activities, reduce our employee retention and impair our ability to compete. Although we have entered into employment offer letters with our key personnel, these agreements have no specific duration and constitute at-will employment. We do not maintain key person life insurance policies on any of our employees.
Competition for highly skilled personnel is often intense, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, where our headquarters is located and where we have a substantial presence and need for highly skilled personnel, and where there is particularly high competition for software engineers, computer scientists and other technical personnel. We may not be successful in attracting, integrating or retaining qualified personnel to fulfill our current or future needs. We have from time to time experienced, and we expect to continue to experience, difficulty in hiring and retaining highly skilled employees with appropriate qualifications. If we are unable to attract qualified personnel to fulfill our needs as we expand our operations, our business and growth prospects could be harmed. In addition, job candidates and existing employees often consider the value of the equity awards they receive in connection with their employment. If the perceived value of our common stock declines, it may adversely affect our ability to hire or retain highly skilled employees. Further, we may periodically change our equity compensation practices, which may include reducing the number of employees eligible for equity awards or reducing the size of equity awards granted per employee. The future of remote work and our physical office build-out strategy have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and may be further impacted by local gathering and safety laws and regulations, which may adversely affect successful cross-functional collaboration, product development velocity and our company culture. If we are unable to attract, integrate or retain the qualified and highly skilled personnel required to fulfill our current or future needs, our business and future growth prospects could be harmed.
We conduct our brokerage and other business operations through subsidiaries and may in the future rely on dividends from our subsidiaries for a substantial amount of our cash flows.
We may in the future depend on dividends, distributions and other payments from our subsidiaries to fund payments on our obligations, including any debt obligations we may incur. Regulatory and other legal restrictions may limit our ability to transfer funds to or from certain subsidiaries, including RHF, Robinhood Crypto, LLC (“RHC”) and RHS. In addition, certain of our subsidiaries are subject to laws and regulations that authorize regulatory bodies to block or reduce the flow of funds to us, or that prohibit such transfers altogether in certain circumstances. These laws and regulations may hinder our ability to access
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funds that we may need to make payments on our obligations, including any debt obligations we may incur and otherwise conduct our business by, among other things, reducing our liquidity in the form of corporate cash. In addition to negatively affecting our business, a significant decrease in our liquidity could also reduce investor confidence in us. Certain rules and regulations of the SEC and FINRA may limit the extent to which our broker-dealer subsidiaries may distribute capital to us. For example, under FINRA rules applicable to RHS, a dividend in excess of 10% of a member firm’s excess net capital may not be paid without FINRA’s prior written approval. Compliance with these rules may impede our ability to receive dividends, distributions and other payments from RHF, RHC and RHS. See also “Business—Regulation.”
Future acquisitions of, or investments in, as applicable, other companies, products, technologies or specialized employees could require significant management attention, disrupt our business, dilute stockholder value and adversely affect our results of operations.
As part of our business strategy, we may make acquisitions of, or investments in, as applicable, specialized employees or other compatible companies, products or technologies. We also may enter into relationships with other businesses in order to expand our products and services. Negotiating these transactions can be time-consuming, difficult and expensive and our ability to close these transactions may be subject to third-party approvals, such as government and other regulatory approvals, which are beyond our control. Further, we may not be able to find suitable acquisition or investment candidates and we may not be able to complete acquisitions on favorable terms, if at all. Moreover, these kinds of acquisitions or investments may result in unforeseen operating difficulties and expenditures, including disrupting our ongoing operations, diverting management from their primary responsibilities, subjecting us to additional liabilities, increasing our expenses and adversely impacting our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we acquire businesses or technologies, we may not be able to integrate the acquired personnel, operations and technologies successfully, or effectively manage the combined business following the acquisition. Moreover, we cannot assure that the anticipated benefits of any acquisition or investment would be realized or that we would not be exposed to unknown liabilities.
In connection with these types of transactions, we may issue additional equity securities that would dilute our stockholders, use cash that we may need in the future to operate our business, incur debt on terms unfavorable to us or that we are unable to repay, incur large charges or substantial liabilities, encounter difficulties integrating diverse business cultures and become subject to adverse tax consequences, substantial depreciation, or deferred compensation charges. These challenges related to acquisitions or investments could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may expand into international markets, which will expose us to significant new risks, and our international expansion efforts may not be successful.
We may further expand our operations to other countries outside of the United States, which will require significant resources and management attention and will subject us to regulatory, economic and political risks in addition to those we already face in the United States. There are significant risks and costs inherent in doing business in international markets, including:
difficulty establishing and managing international operations and the increased operations, travel, infrastructure and legal and compliance costs associated with locations in different countries or regions;
the need to understand and comply with local laws, regulations and customs in multiple jurisdictions, including laws and regulations governing broker-dealer practices, some of which may be different from, or conflict with, those of other jurisdictions, and which might not permit us to operate our business or collect revenues in the same manner as we do in such other jurisdictions;
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our interpretations of local laws and regulations, which may be subject to challenge by local regulators;
difficulties or delays in obtaining and/or maintaining the regulatory permissions, authorizations, licenses or consents that may be required to offer certain products in one or more international markets;
difficulties in managing multiple regulatory relationships across different jurisdictions on complex legal and regulatory matters;
if we were to engage in any merger or acquisition activity internationally, this is complex and would be new for us and subject to additional regulatory scrutiny;
the need to vary products, pricing and margins to effectively compete in international markets;
the need to adapt and localize products for specific countries, including obtaining rights to third-party intellectual property used in each country;
increased competition from local providers of similar products and services;
the ability to offer products and services that meet a demand in the local market (“product-market fit”);
the ability to obtain, maintain, protect, defend and enforce intellectual property rights abroad;
the need to offer customer support and other aspects of our offering (including websites, articles blog posts and customer support documentation) in various languages;
compliance with anti-bribery laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) and equivalent anti-bribery and anti-corruption requirements in local markets, by us, our employees and our business partners, and the potential for increased complexity due to the requirements on us as a group to follow multiple rule sets;
complexity and other risks associated with current and future legal requirements in other countries, including laws, rules, regulations and other legal requirements related to cybersecurity and data privacy frameworks and labor and employment laws;
the need to enter into new business partnerships with third-party service providers in order to provide products and services in the local market, which we may rely upon to be able to provide such products and services or to meet certain regulatory obligations;
varying levels of internet technology adoption and infrastructure, and increased or varying network and hosting service provider costs and differences in technology service delivery in different countries;
fluctuations in currency exchange rates and the requirements of currency control regulations, which might restrict or prohibit conversion of other currencies into U.S. dollars;
taxation of our international earnings and potentially adverse tax consequences due to requirements of or changes in the income and other tax laws of the United States or the international jurisdictions in which we operate; and
political or social unrest or economic instability in a specific country or region in which we operate.
We have limited experience with international regulatory environments and market practices, and we may not be able to penetrate or successfully operate in the markets we choose to enter. In addition, we may incur significant expenses as a result of our international expansion, and we may not be successful.
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We may launch products that lack local product-market fit, face local competition from pre-existing companies offering similar products and/or face limited brand recognition in certain parts of the world, any of which could lead to non-acceptance or delayed acceptance of our products and services by customers in new markets. Product adoption and growth rates may vary significantly across different markets. We are subject to income taxes and other taxes in the United States and other countries in which we transact or conduct business, and such laws and tax rates vary by jurisdiction. We are subject to review and audit by U.S. federal, state, local and foreign tax authorities. Such tax authorities may disagree with tax positions we take, and if any such tax authority were to successfully challenge any such position, our financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. Our failure to successfully manage these risks could harm our international operations in the markets we choose to enter and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Unfavorable media coverage could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We receive a high volume of media coverage, which has increased as our company has grown. We have also received and may continue to receive negative media coverage regarding our products and services and the risk of our customers’ misuse or misunderstanding of our products and services, inappropriate or otherwise unauthorized behavior by our customers and litigation or regulatory activity. In addition, given our public profile, any unanticipated system disruptions, outages, technical or security-related incidents or other performance problems relating to our platform, such as the two service outages that occurred on our platform from March 2-3, 2020 and on March 9, 2020 caused by stress placed on our infrastructure due to highly volatile and historic market conditions, record trading volume and record account sign-ups (the “March 2020 Outages”), are likely to receive extensive media attention. Furthermore, any negative experiences our customers have in connection with their use of our products and services, including as a result of any such performance problems, could diminish customer confidence in us and our products and services, which could result in unfavorable media coverage or publicity. For example, we received customer complaints and significant media attention as a result of the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions. See “Business—Legal Proceedings—Early 2021 Trading Restrictions Matters” and “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We are involved in numerous litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations” for more information about the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions and the March 2020 Outages.
Unfavorable publicity has in the past adversely affected, and could in the future adversely affect, our reputation. As our platform continues to scale and public awareness of our brand increases, any future issues that draw adverse media coverage could have an amplified negative effect on our reputation and brand. Any such negative publicity could have an adverse effect on our growth rate or the size, engagement and loyalty of our customer base, as well as on our ability to recruit and retain personnel, and result in decreased revenue or revenue growth rates, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation
Our business is subject to extensive, complex and changing laws and regulations, and related regulatory proceedings and investigations. Changes in these laws and regulations, or our failure to comply with these laws and regulations, could harm our business.
The securities industry is subject to extensive regulation by federal, state and non-U.S. regulators and SROs, and broker-dealers and financial services companies are subject to laws and regulations covering all aspects of the securities industry. The substantial costs and uncertainties related to complying with these regulations continue to increase, and our introduction of new products or services, expansion of our business in certain jurisdictions or subindustries, acquisitions of other businesses that operate in similar regulated spaces or other actions that we may take may subject us to additional laws, regulations or other
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government or regulatory scrutiny. Regulations are intended to ensure the integrity of financial markets, appropriate capitalization of broker-dealers and other financial services companies and the protection of customers and their assets. These regulations may serve to limit our business activities through capital, customer protection and market conduct requirements, as well as restrictions on the activities that we are authorized to conduct.
Federal, state and non-U.S. regulators and SROs, including the SEC and FINRA, among other things, can investigate, censure or fine us, issue cease-and-desist orders or otherwise restrict our operations, require changes to our business practices, products or services, limit our acquisition activities or suspend or expel a broker-dealer or any of its officers or employees. Similarly, state attorneys general and other state regulators, including state securities and financial services regulators, can bring legal actions on behalf of the citizens of their states to assure compliance with state laws. In addition, criminal authorities such as state attorneys general or the U.S. Department of Justice may institute civil or criminal proceedings against us for violating applicable laws, rules, or regulations. We operate in a highly regulated industry and, despite our efforts to comply with applicable legal requirements, like all companies in our industry, we must adapt to frequent changes in laws and regulations, and face complexity in interpreting and applying evolving laws and regulations to our business, heightened scrutiny of the conduct of financial services firms and increasing penalties for violations of applicable laws and regulations. We may fail to establish and enforce procedures that comply with applicable legal requirements and regulations. We may be adversely affected by new laws or regulations, changes in the interpretation of existing laws or regulations or more rigorous enforcement. For example, the practice of PFOF may be limited substantially by regulators, which would materially decrease our transaction-based revenue, or banned entirely, which could require us to make significant changes to our revenue model, and such changes may not be successful. We also may be adversely affected by other regulatory changes related to our obligations with regard to suitability of financial products, supervision, sales practices, application of fiduciary or best interest standards (including the interpretation of what constitutes an “investment recommendation” for the purposes of the SEC’s “Regulation Best Interest” and state securities laws) and best execution in the context of our business and market structure, any of which could limit our business, increase our costs and damage our reputation.
We are also subject to laws, rules, regulations, policies, industry standards and contractual obligations regarding data privacy and security, and we may be subject to litigation, regulatory proceedings or other investigations regarding any actual or perceived non-compliance with such obligations. For more information, see “—Risks Related to Cybersecurity and Data Privacy—We are subject to stringent laws, rules, regulations, policies, industry standards and contractual obligations regarding data privacy and security and may be subject to additional related laws and regulations in jurisdictions into which we expand. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and reinterpretation and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, increased cost of operations or other harm to our business.
We have been subject to regulatory investigations, actions and settlements and we expect to continue to be subject to such proceedings in the future, which could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business.
From time to time, we have been, and expect to continue to be, subject to legal and regulatory proceedings arising out of our business practices and operations, including lawsuits, arbitration claims, governmental subpoenas, and regulatory, governmental and SRO inquiries, examinations, investigations and enforcement proceedings, as well as other actions and claims. For example, in May 2019, the SEC’s Division of Enforcement commenced an investigation into best execution and PFOF practices of our subsidiary, RHF, as well as statements concerning its sources of revenue. On December 17, 2020, RHF, on a neither admit nor deny basis, consented to the entry of an SEC order (i) requiring RHF to cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violations of Sections 17(a)(2) and 17(a)(3) of the Securities Act and Section 17(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 17a-4 thereunder; (ii)
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censuring RHF; and (iii) requiring RHF to pay a $65 million civil penalty in December 2020. RHF paid the $65 million penalty in cash and also agreed to engage an independent compliance consultant to, among other things, perform a comprehensive review of RHF’s supervisory, compliance and other policies and procedures related to its retail communications and PFOF and make recommendations for improvements. As a result of the cease-and-desist order, we are now considered an “ineligible issuer” as defined under Rule 405 of the Securities Act. See also “—As a result of our recent settlement with the SEC, we are currently considered an ‘ineligible issuer,’ which limits our ability to use certain free writing prospectuses in securities offerings and will delay our ability to qualify as a ‘well-known seasoned issuer’ in the future” below. Additionally, in December 2019, FINRA brought a disciplinary action against RHF in connection with alleged noncompliance with best execution rules during the 2016 to 2017 timeframe, which resulted in a settlement and payment by RHF of a $1.25 million fine. We have also recorded charges as general and administrative expenses in our consolidated statements of operations for the year ended December 31, 2020 of (i) $26.6 million representing the bottom of the range of our probable losses in connection with other FINRA investigations and enforcement matters, including those related to the March 2020 Outages and options trading and related customer communications and displays, and (ii) $10 million representing the bottom range of our probable losses in connection with the resolution of a New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) matter focused primarily on anti-money laundering and cybersecurity-related issues. See “Business—Legal Proceedings” and Note 13 to our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020, included elsewhere in this prospectus for more information about these matters.
In addition, we have been subject, and, given the highly regulated nature of the industries in which we operate, expect that we will be subject in the future, to a number of SEC and FINRA examinations and investigations, including examinations and investigations related to broker-dealer and financial services rules and regulations, including our trading and supervisory policies and procedures, our clearing practices, our public communications, our compliance with anti-money laundering and other financial crimes regulations, cybersecurity matters and our business continuity plans. We have also been subject, and may be subject in the future, to inquiries, investigations and examinations by other federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and state regulatory agencies, such as the Massachusetts Securities Division (the “MSD”) and the NYDFS. For example, in December 2020, the Enforcement Section of the MSD filed a complaint against us, alleging three counts of Massachusetts state securities law violations regarding unethical and dishonest conduct or practices, failure to supervise, and failure to act in accordance with the fiduciary duty standard required by Massachusetts, which became effective on March 6, 2020 and had an effective enforcement date beginning September 1, 2020. Among other things, the MSD alleges that our product features and marketing strategies, outages, and options trading approval process constitute violations of Massachusetts securities laws. RHM, RHF, RHS and our Co-Founder and CEO, Vladimir Tenev, have received requests for information, and in some cases, subpoenas and requests for testimony, related to investigations and examinations of the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California (“USAO”), the SEC staff, FINRA, the New York Attorney General’s Office, other state attorneys general offices and a number of state securities regulators. Also, a related search warrant was executed by the USAO to obtain Mr. Tenev’s cell phone. There have also been several inquiries based on specific customer complaints. In addition, we have received information and testimony requests from certain committees and members of the U.S. Congress and Mr. Tenev has provided testimony with respect to the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions. See “Business—Legal Proceedings” and “Business—Regulation.”
These proceedings, inquiries, examinations, investigations and other regulatory matters may subject us to fines, penalties and monetary settlements, result in additional compliance requirements, result in certain of our subsidiaries, including RHC, losing their regulatory licenses in certain jurisdictions, increase regulatory scrutiny of our business, restrict our operations or require us to change our business practices, require changes to our products and services, require changes in personnel or management, delay planned product or service launches or development, limit our ability to acquire other complementary businesses and technologies or lead to the suspension or expulsion of our broker-dealer or other
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regulated subsidiaries or their officers or employees. Any of the foregoing could, individually or in the aggregate, harm our reputation and brand, require substantial management attention and have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
As a result of our recent settlement with the SEC, we are currently considered an “ineligible issuer,” which limits our ability to use certain free writing prospectuses in securities offerings and will delay our ability to qualify as a “well-known seasoned issuer” in the future.
As a result of a cease-and-desist order issued by the SEC on December 17, 2020 and our related settlement in connection with the SEC’s investigation of our best execution and PFOF practices, we are currently an “ineligible issuer,” as the term is defined under Rule 405 of the Securities Act, and will remain an ineligible issuer until December 17, 2023. As long as we are an ineligible issuer, as a public company, we will be prevented from using free writing prospectuses in securities offerings, other than in certain limited circumstances, such as those free writing prospectuses that contain only a description of the terms of the offered securities or the offering itself. In particular, in connection with this initial public offering or any subsequent registered offering of our securities, we may only be able to engage in “live” roadshows that are not considered free writing prospectuses and are precluded from making broadly available to investors a recorded version of any roadshow, which would generally constitute a free writing prospectus. This could have the effect of limiting potential investor access to any roadshow we may conduct in connection with this or any other registered offering if investors are not able to attend any “live” virtual or in-person presentations, calls or webcasts that we may host.
Additionally, following such time as we would otherwise be able to satisfy all other requirements for “well-known seasoned issuer” (“WKSI”) status under Rule 405, we will be unable to take advantage of the following benefits associated with WKSI status, including the ability to:
file Form S-3 shelf registration statements that are automatically effective to register a range of different types of securities for an indeterminate number or amount of securities and without the need to identify a detailed plan of distribution or specified selling stockholders;
offer or register additional securities by amending any existing shelf registration statement rather than filing a new registration statement that would not be automatically effective; and
take advantage of the “pay as you go” filing fee payment process and pay filing fees at the time of each takedown off a shelf registration statement, rather than at the time the registration statement is filed.
Notwithstanding our “ineligible issuer” status, assuming that the worldwide market value of our outstanding common stock held by non-affiliates will be at least $700 million, we would otherwise be eligible for WKSI status within 12 months of the consummation of this initial public offering. As a public company, we will face changing regulatory requirements and market conditions and be subject to other uncertainties which, among other things, could make it necessary or advisable for us to raise additional capital in an expeditious manner. Without the ability to utilize an automatic shelf registration statement once we would otherwise be eligible to do so if we had WKSI status, we may be unable to react quickly to such changing requirements and conditions and could be delayed in our ability to raise additional capital.
We are involved in numerous litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations.
In addition to regulatory oversight, investigations and other proceedings, we are also involved in numerous other litigation matters, including putative class action lawsuits, and we anticipate that we will continue to be a target for litigation in the future. These litigation matters include commercial litigation matters, insurance matters, privacy and cybersecurity disputes, intellectual property disputes, contract disputes, consumer protection matters and employment matters. In addition, during market downturns,
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the volume of legal claims and amount of damages sought in litigation and regulatory proceedings against financial services companies have historically increased.
For example, beginning on March 4, 2020, 15 putative class actions and one individual action were filed against us in state and federal district courts relating to the March 2020 Outages. One of the putative class actions and the individual action were voluntarily dismissed following settlements between the parties. Thirteen of the remaining putative class actions have been consolidated as In re Robinhood Outage Litigation in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The one remaining putative class action, Withouski v. Robinhood Financial LLC et al., pending in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Mateo, has been stayed by agreement of the parties. The lawsuits generally allege that putative class members or the plaintiff were unable to execute trades during the March 2020 Outages because our platform was inadequately designed to handle customer demand and we failed to implement appropriate backup systems. The lawsuits include, among other things, claims for breach of contract, negligence, gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment and violations of certain California consumer protection statutes. The lawsuits generally seek damages, restitution or disgorgement, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. On October 5, 2020, we filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated amended complaint and to strike the class allegations. On February 18, 2021, the court dismissed RHM from the case with leave to amend, but otherwise denied the motion, and ordered the parties to select a mediator within 14 days.
Additionally, in December 2020 and in January 2021, four putative class actions were filed against us in federal district courts relating to our PFOF practices. The lawsuits generally relate to the same factual allegations as the SEC matter that settled in December 2020, as described above under “—We have been subject to regulatory investigations, actions and settlements and we expect to continue to be subject to such proceedings in the future, which could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business.” The consolidated lawsuits include, among other things, claims for breach of Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Exchange Act, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty and violations of certain California consumer protection statutes.
In addition, as of March 22, 2021, we have become aware of approximately 49 putative class actions (three of which complaints have been voluntarily dismissed with prejudice) and three individual actions that have been filed against one or more of RHM, RHF and RHS in various federal and state courts relating to the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions. The complaints generally allege breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and other common law claims. Several complaints further allege federal securities claims, federal and state antitrust claims and certain state consumer protection claims based on similar factual allegations. RHM, RHF, RHS and our Co-Founder and CEO, Vladimir Tenev, have received requests for information, and in some cases, subpoenas and requests for testimony, related to investigations and examinations of the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California (“USAO”), the SEC staff, FINRA, the New York Attorney General’s Office, other state attorneys general offices and a number of state securities regulators. Also, a related search warrant was executed by the USAO to obtain Mr. Tenev’s cell phone. There have also been several inquiries based on specific customer complaints. In addition, we have received information and testimony requests from certain committees and members of the U.S. Congress and Mr. Tenev has provided testimony with respect to the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions. In addition, we have also received a high degree of media coverage, including negative media coverage, as well as complaints from our customers about us and our platform in connection with the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions. Given our brand and our reputation are two of our most important assets, any damage to our brand and reputation as a result of such negative media coverage could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Further, on January 8, 2021, a putative class action was filed in California Superior Court (Santa Clara County) against RHF and RHS by Siddharth Mehta, purportedly on behalf of approximately 2,000 Robinhood customers whose accounts were allegedly accessed by unauthorized users from January 1,
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2020 to October 16, 2020. On February 9, 2021, RHF and RHS removed this action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. An amended complaint, filed on February 26, 2021, added two named class members and expanded the putative class period to the present. Plaintiffs generally allege that RHF and RHS breached commitments made and duties owed to customers to safeguard customer data and assets. Plaintiffs assert eight causes of action for purported violations of common law, a right to privacy, and certain California statutes, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (the “CCPA”). On March 12, 2021, RHF and RHS filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint.
For more information about litigation matters and other regulatory and legal proceedings in which we are involved, see “Business—Legal Proceedings.”
Litigation matters brought against us may require substantial management attention and may result in settlements, awards, injunctions, fines, penalties and other adverse results. A substantial judgment, settlement, fine or penalty or injunctive relief could be material to our results of operations or cash flows for a particular period, or could cause us significant reputational harm or have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to governmental laws and requirements regarding economic and trade sanctions, anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing that could impair our ability to compete in international markets or subject us to criminal or civil liability if we violate them.
Although our operations are currently concentrated in the United States (with the limited exception of our U.K. and Dutch subsidiaries which have U.K.- and Netherlands-based employees and contractors), in the future we may seek to expand internationally and will become subject to additional laws and regulations, and will need to implement new regulatory controls to comply with applicable laws. We are currently required to comply with U.S. economic and trade sanctions administered by OFAC and we have processes in place to comply with the OFAC regulations as well as similar requirements in other jurisdictions. As part of our compliance efforts, we review customer applications to determine if any potential customers appear on OFAC or other watchlists. While we currently only offer services to U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a legal address within the United States or Puerto Rico, and while our application includes features designed to block access to our services from sanctioned countries, our application could potentially be illegitimately accessed from anywhere in the world. If our services are accessed from a sanctioned country in violation of the trade and economic sanctions, with our knowledge or otherwise, we could be subject to enforcement actions. Additionally, to the extent a customer accesses our application or services from outside the United States, we could also become subject to regulations in that local jurisdiction, including requirements that we become licensed, registered or authorized in such jurisdiction. A regulator’s conclusion that we are servicing customers in their jurisdiction without being appropriately licensed, registered or authorized could result in fines or other enforcement actions. Our broker-dealer subsidiaries are registered in the United States but are not licensed, authorized or registered in any other jurisdiction.
We are also subject to various anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws and regulations around the world that prohibit, among other things, our involvement in transferring the proceeds of criminal activities. In the United States, most of our services are subject to anti-money laundering laws and regulations, including the Bank Secrecy Act, as amended (“BSA”), and similar laws and regulations. The BSA, among other things, requires money services businesses to develop and implement risk-based anti-money laundering programs, to report large cash transactions and suspicious activity, and in some cases, to collect and maintain information about customers who use their services and maintain other transaction records. Regulators in the United States and globally continue to increase their scrutiny of compliance with these obligations. For example, in July 2020, the NYDFS issued a report of its examination of RHC citing a number of “matters requiring attention” focused primarily on anti-money laundering and cybersecurity-related issues. Following subsequent investigation by the NYDFS’s Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division, in March 2021, NYDFS informed RHC of certain alleged violations of anti-money laundering and New York Banking Law requirements (Part 417, Part 504 and Banking Law § 44), including the failure to maintain and certify a compliant anti-money
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laundering program. RHC is cooperating with the NYDFS with respect to these allegations. See “Business—Legal Proceedings—RHC Anti-Money Laundering and Other Cybersecurity-Related Issues” for more information. As a result of this or other regulatory attention, we may be required to further revise or expand our compliance program, including the procedures we use to verify the identity of our customers and to monitor transactions on our system, including payments to persons outside of the United States. Regulators regularly re-examine the transaction volume thresholds at which we must obtain and keep applicable records or verify identities of customers, and any change in such thresholds could result in greater costs for compliance.
We are subject to anti-corruption, anti-bribery and similar laws, and non-compliance with such laws can subject us to criminal or civil liability and harm our business.
We are subject to the FCPA, U.S. domestic bribery laws and other U.S. and foreign anti-corruption laws. Anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws have been enforced aggressively in recent years and are interpreted broadly to generally prohibit companies, their employees and their third-party intermediaries from authorizing, offering or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or benefits to recipients in the public sector. These laws also require that we keep accurate books and records and maintain internal controls and compliance procedures designed to prevent any such actions. Although we currently only maintain operations in the United States (with the limited exception of our U.K. and Dutch subsidiaries which have U.K. and Netherlands-based employees and contractors), as we increase our international cross-border business and expand operations abroad, we have engaged and may further engage with business partners and third-party intermediaries to market our services and to obtain necessary permits, licenses and other regulatory approvals. In addition, we or our third-party intermediaries may have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or state-owned or affiliated entities. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of these third-party intermediaries, our employees, representatives, contractors, partners, and agents, even if we do not explicitly authorize such activities. The failure to comply with any such laws could subject us to criminal or civil liability, cause us significant reputational harm and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We cannot assure that all of our employees and agents will comply with our internal policies and applicable law, including anti-corruption, anti-bribery and similar laws. We may be ultimately held responsible for any such non-compliance. As we increase our international business, our compliance risks may increase.
Detecting, investigating and resolving actual or alleged violations of anti-corruption laws can require a significant diversion of time, resources, and attention from senior management. In addition, noncompliance with anti-corruption or anti-bribery laws could subject us to whistleblower complaints, investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, enforcement actions, fines, damages, other civil or criminal penalties, injunctions, suspension or debarment from contracting with certain persons, reputational harm, adverse media coverage and other collateral consequences. If any subpoenas are received or investigations are launched, or governmental or other sanctions are imposed, or if we do not prevail in any possible civil or criminal proceeding, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, responding to any action will likely result in a materially significant diversion of management’s attention and resources and significant defense costs and other professional fees.
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Risks Related to Our Industry, Customers, Products and Services
We operate in highly competitive markets, and many of our competitors have greater resources than we do and may have products and services that may be more appealing than ours to our current or potential customers.
The markets in which we compete are evolving and highly competitive, with multiple participants competing for the same customers. Our current and potential future competition principally comes from incumbent discount brokerages, established financial technology companies, venture-backed financial technology firms, banks, cryptocurrency exchanges, asset management firms and technology platforms. Since the 2019 launch of our Cash Management product, which enables existing brokerage account holders to earn interest on uninvested cash in their Cash Management accounts, we have also faced competition with respect to those services from traditional consumer banking institutions.
The majority of our competitors have longer operating histories and greater capital resources than we have and offer a wider range of products and services. The impact of competitors with superior name recognition, greater market acceptance, larger customer bases or stronger capital positions could adversely affect our results of operations and customer acquisition and retention. Our competitors may also be able to respond more quickly to new or changing opportunities and demands and withstand changing market conditions better than we can, especially larger competitors that may benefit from more diversified product and customer bases. For example, some of our competitors have quickly adopted, or are seeking to adopt, some of our key offerings and services, including commission-free trading, fractional share trading and no account minimums, since their introduction on our platform to compete with us. In addition, competitors may conduct extensive promotional activities, offer better terms or offer differentiating products and services that could attract our current and prospective customers and potentially result in intensified competition within our markets. We continue to experience aggressive price competition in our markets and we may not be able to match the marketing efforts or prices of our competitors. In addition, our competitors may choose to forego PFOF practices, which could create downward pressure on PFOF and make it more difficult for us to continue engaging in and generating revenue through PFOF, which is a significant source of our revenue. See “—Risks Related to Our Business—Because a majority of our revenue is derived from PFOF, reduced spreads in securities pricing, reduced levels of trading activity generally and any new regulation of, or any bans on, PFOF practices may result in reduced profitability, increased compliance costs and expanded potential for negative publicity” for more information. We may also be subject to increased competition as our competitors enter into business combinations or partnerships, or established companies in other market segments expand to become competitive with our business.
In addition, we compete in a technology-intensive market characterized by rapid innovation. Some of our competitors in this market, including new and emerging competitors, are not subject to the same regulatory requirements or scrutiny to which we are subject, which could place us at a competitive disadvantage, in particular in the development of new technology platforms or the ability to rapidly innovate. We may be unable to effectively use new technologies, adapt our products and services to emerging market standards or develop or introduce and market enhanced or new products and services. If we are not able to update or adapt our products and services to take advantage of the latest technologies and standards, or are otherwise unable to tailor the delivery of our services to the latest personal and mobile computing devices preferred by our customers or to provide products or services that are of a quality preferred by our customers, it could have an adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations.
Our ability to compete successfully in the financial services and cryptocurrency markets depends on a number of factors, including, among other things:
providing easy-to-use, innovative and attractive products and services, as well as effective customer support;
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maintaining and expanding our market position;
attracting and retaining customers;
our reputation and the market perception of our brand and overall value;
maintaining our relationships with our counterparties;
maintaining competitive pricing;
competing in a competitive landscape, including in the provision of products and services that have until recently been available only from our bank competitors;
the effectiveness, reliability and stability of our technology (including the success of our outage prevention efforts and our cybersecurity measures and defenses), products and services;
innovating effectively in launching new or enhanced products and services;
adjusting to a dynamic regulatory environment;
the differences in regulatory oversight regimes to which we and our competitors are subject; and
general economic and market trends, including customer demand for financial products and services.
Our competitive position within our markets could be adversely affected if we are unable to adequately address these factors, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we fail to retain existing customers or attract new customers, or if our customers decrease their use of our products and services, our growth could be slower than we expect and our business may be harmed.
We have experienced significant customer growth over the past several years. Our continued business and revenue growth is dependent on our ability to attract new customers, retain existing customers, increase the amount that our customers use our products and services and sell our premium services, such as Robinhood Gold, and we cannot be sure that we will be successful in these efforts. There are a number of factors that could lead to a decline in our number of customers or their usage of our products and services, or that could prevent us from increasing our number of customers, including:
our failure to introduce new products or services, or our introduction of new products or services, or changes in our existing products or services, that are not favorably received;
pricing for our products and services;
harm to our brand and reputation, or decreases in the perceived quality, reliability or usefulness of our products and services;
our customers engaging with competitive products and services;
our customers having difficulty installing, updating or otherwise accessing the Robinhood app on mobile devices as a result of actions by us or third parties that we rely on to distribute our app;
our customers experiencing security breaches, account intrusions or other unauthorized access as a result of actions by us or our business partners, including third parties that we rely on to distribute the Robinhood application;
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our failure to provide adequate customer service to our customers;
resistance to and non-acceptance of cryptocurrencies;
a cybersecurity attack, data breach or other security incident resulting in loss in customer confidence;
our inability to manage network or service outages, interruptions and internet disruptions, including during times of high trading activity, or other performance or technical problems that prevent our customers from accessing and managing their accounts or assets in a rapid and reliable manner;
changes in our customers’ investment strategies or level of interest in investing;
regulatory changes that have the effect of limiting or prohibiting our existing business practices, including PFOF;
the enactment of proposed legislation that would impose taxes on certain financial transactions;
changes mandated by legislation, regulatory authorities or litigation that adversely affect our products and services, or our ability to provide them to our customers;
any restrictions on trading that we impose on our platform as a result of the capital requirements and cash deposit and collateral requirements to which RHS is subject as a clearing and carrying broker-dealer; and
deteriorating general economic conditions, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or a general downturn in the U.S. equity markets.
As we expand our business operations and enter new markets, new challenges in attracting and retaining customers will arise that we may not successfully address. Our success, and our ability to increase revenues and operate profitably, depends in part on our ability to cost-effectively acquire new customers, to retain existing customers and to keep existing customers engaged so that they continue to use our products and services. We have historically relied significantly on our customers joining organically or through the Robinhood Referral Program, which accounted for over 80% of the customers that joined our platform in fiscal year 2020. If such channels of customer growth decline, our marketing efforts prove to be ineffective or we are unable to predict customer demands, retain current customers or attract new customers, our revenue may grow more slowly than expected, may not grow at all or may decline and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Many of our customers are first-time investors and our trading volumes and revenues could be reduced if these customers stop trading altogether or stop using our platform for their investing activities.
Our business model focuses on making the financial markets accessible to a broad demographic of retail investors. As of December 31, 2020, we had 12.5 million Net Cumulative Funded Accounts, and from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2020, over half of the customers funding accounts on our platform told us that Robinhood was their first brokerage account. In addition, in the first half of 2020, we saw a significant increase in the number of new accounts opened by first-time investors. Our success, and our ability to increase revenues and operate profitably, depends in part on such customers continuing to utilize our platform, even as global social and economic conditions shift. However, our customers do not have long-term contractual arrangements with us and can utilize our platform on a transaction-by-transaction basis and may also cease to use our platforms at any time. We may face particular challenges in retaining these investors as customers, for example as a result of a return to pre-COVID-19 behaviors, increased volatility in the financial markets or increasing availability of competing products that seek to target the same demographic. In particular, a broad decline in the equity or other financial markets could
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result in some of these investors exiting the markets and leaving our platform. Any significant loss of customers or a significant reduction in their use of our platform could have a material impact on our trading volumes and revenues, and materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our introduction of new products and services, or changes to existing products and services, could fail to attract or retain customers or generate growth and revenue.
Our ability to attract, engage and retain our customers and to increase our revenue depends heavily on our ability to continue to maintain and evolve our existing products and services and to create successful new products and services. We may introduce significant changes to our existing products and services or acquire or introduce new and unproven products and services, including using technologies with which we have little or no prior development or operating experience. We continue to incur substantial costs, and we may not be successful in continuing to generate profits, in connection with these efforts. In addition, the introduction of new products and services, or changes to existing products and services, may result in new or enhanced governmental or regulatory scrutiny or other complications that could adversely affect our business and results of operations. If our new or enhanced products and services fail to attract customers, or if our business plans are unsuccessful, we may fail to attract or retain customers or to generate sufficient revenue, operating margin or other value to justify our investments, and our business may be adversely affected.
If we do not keep pace with industry and technological changes and continue to provide new and innovative products and services, our business may become less competitive and our business may be adversely impacted.
Rapid and significant technological changes continue to confront the financial services industry, including developments in the methods in which securities are traded and developments in cryptocurrencies. If we fail to innovate and deliver products and services with market fit and differentiation, or fail to do so quickly enough as compared to our competitors, we may not be able to keep pace with industry and technological changes in our industry and we may face difficulty in competing within our market, which could harm our business.
We expect new technologies, products, services and industry norms to continue to emerge and evolve, and we cannot predict the effects of technological changes or industry practices on our business. Further, new technologies introduced in our markets may be superior to, or render obsolete, the technologies we currently use in our products and services. Incorporating new technologies into our products and services may require substantial expenditures and take considerable time, and we may not be successful in realizing a return on these development efforts in a timely manner or at all. Our ability to successfully adopt new products and services and to develop and incorporate new technologies may be inhibited by industry-wide standards, changes to laws and regulations, changing customer expectations, demands and preferences or third-party intellectual property rights. If we are unable to enhance our products and services or to innovate or to develop new products and services that achieve market acceptance or that keep pace with rapid technological developments and evolving industry standards or practices, our business could be adversely affected.
Because our products and services are designed to operate on a variety of systems, we will need to continuously modify, enhance and improve our products and services to keep pace with changes in internet-related hardware, mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android and other software, communication, browser and database technologies. We may not be successful in either developing these modifications, enhancements and improvements or in bringing them to market quickly or cost-effectively in response to market demands. Furthermore, uncertainties about the timing and nature of new network platforms or technologies, or modifications to existing platforms or technologies, could increase our research and development expenses. Any failure of our products and services to keep pace with technological changes or to innovate or to operate effectively with future network platforms and technologies, or to do so in a timely and cost-effective manner, could reduce the demand for our products
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and services, result in customer dissatisfaction, negative publicity, reduce our competitive advantage and harm our business and reputation.
If we are unable to successfully monetize our products and services, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.
We are continuously striving to deliver innovative products and features to customers at low prices. As we expand into new business lines and markets, we may find that it is more difficult for us to monetize products and features delivered at low prices due to economic, political, competitive or market-structure considerations. If we are not successful in our monetization efforts or if we expend significant resources to launch new products and services that we are unable to monetize, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.
Risks Related to Our Platform, Systems and Technology
Our platform has been, and may in the future be, subject to interruption and instability due to operational and technological failures, whether internal or external.
We rely on technology, including the internet and mobile services, to conduct much of our business activity and allow our customers to conduct financial transactions on our platform. Our systems and operations, including our primary and disaster recovery data center operations, as well as those of the third parties on which we rely to conduct certain key functions, are vulnerable to disruptions from natural disasters, power and service outages, interruptions or losses, computer and telecommunications failures, software bugs, cybersecurity attacks, computer viruses, malware, distributed denial of service attacks, spam attacks, phishing or other social engineering, ransomware, security breaches, credential stuffing, technological failure, human error, terrorism, improper operation, unauthorized entry, data loss, intentional bad actions and other similar events and we have experienced such disruptions in the past. Further, we may be particularly vulnerable to any such internal technology failures because we rely heavily on our own self-clearing platform, proprietary order routing system, data platform and other back-end infrastructure for our operations, and any such failures could have an adverse effect on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, in December 2018, we experienced a failure of our order routing technology caused by code being inadvertently pushed to the production environment that led to option trades being incorrectly routed. We temporarily halted options trading while the technology failure was repaired and remediated customers impacted by the outage through a combination of Amazon gift cards, Robinhood Gold subscription fees and cash, resulting in estimated out-of-pocket losses to us of approximately $0.9 million.
In addition, surges in trading volume on our platform have in the past and may in the future cause our systems to operate at diminished speed or even fail, temporarily or for a more prolonged period of time, which would affect our ability to process transactions and potentially result in some customers’ orders being executed at prices they did not anticipate or executed incorrectly, or not executed at all. For example, the March 2020 Outages resulted in certain of our customers being unable to buy and sell securities and other financial products on our platform for a period of time, and our platform has in the past and may in the future experience additional outages from time to time. Disruptions caused by the March 2020 Outages resulted in putative class action lawsuits being filed against us (and certain of our subsidiaries) by our customers in both state and federal courts as well as regulatory examinations and investigations. We provided remediation to many of our customers impacted by the March 2020 Outages through cash payments, resulting in estimated out-of-pocket losses to us of approximately $3.6 million. See “—Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We are involved in numerous litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations”, “—Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We have been subject to regulatory investigations, actions and settlements and we expect to continue to be subject to such proceedings in the future, which could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business” and “Business—Legal
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Proceedings.” Disruptions to, destruction of, improper access to, breach of, instability of or failure to effectively maintain our information technology systems (including our data processing systems, self-clearing platform and order routing system) or external technology of third parties with whom we do business that allow our customers to use our products and services could result in customer attrition, costly litigation and regulatory and U.S. Congressional inquiries, negative publicity and reputational harm, and may have an adverse effect on our business. Frequent or persistent interruptions in our products and services could cause customers to believe that our products and services are unreliable, leading them to switch to our competitors or to otherwise avoid our products and services. Additionally, our insurance policies may be insufficient to cover a claim made against us by any such customers affected by any disruptions, outages, or other performance or infrastructure problems. See also “—Risks Related to Finance, Accounting and Tax Matters—Our insurance coverage may be inadequate or expensive.”
While we have made, and continue to make, significant investments designed to enhance the reliability and scalability of our platform and operations as well as our customer support functions, we do not have fully redundant systems and we cannot assure that these investments will be successful or that we will be able to maintain, expand and upgrade our systems and infrastructure to meet future requirements and mitigate future risks on a timely basis. It may become increasingly difficult to maintain and improve the availability of our platform, especially as our platform and product offerings become more complex, our customer base grows and we experience surges in trading volume on our platform. To the extent that we do not effectively address capacity constraints, upgrade our systems as needed, or continually develop our technology and network architecture to accommodate actual and anticipated changes in technology, our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
Our products and internal systems rely on software that is highly technical, and if these systems contain errors, bugs or vulnerabilities, or if we are unsuccessful in addressing or mitigating technical limitations or vulnerabilities in our systems, our business could be adversely affected.
Our products and internal systems rely on software, including software developed or maintained internally and by third parties, that is highly technical and complex. In addition, our platform and our internal systems depend on the ability of such software, which includes machine learning models, to collect, store, retrieve, transmit, manage and otherwise process immense amounts of data. The software on which we rely may contain errors, bugs or vulnerabilities, and our systems are subject to certain technical limitations that may compromise our ability to meet our objectives. Some errors, bugs or vulnerabilities inherently may be difficult to detect and may only be discovered after code has been released for external or internal use. Errors, bugs, vulnerabilities, design defects or technical limitations within the software on which we rely may lead to negative customer experiences (including the communication of inaccurate information to customers), compromised ability of our products to perform in a manner consistent with customer expectations, delayed product introductions, compromised ability to protect the data (including personal data) of our customers and our intellectual property or an inability to provide some or all of our services. Such errors, bugs, vulnerabilities or defects could also be exploited by malicious actors and result in exposure of data of customers on our platform, or otherwise result in a security breach or other security incident. We may need to expend significant financial and development resources to analyze, correct, eliminate, or work around errors or defects or to address and eliminate vulnerabilities. Any failure to timely and effectively resolve any such errors, bugs, vulnerabilities or defects in the software on which we rely, and any associated degradations or interruptions of service could result in damage to our reputation, loss of customers, loss of revenue, regulatory or governmental inquiries or liability for damages, any of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our success depends in part upon effective operation with mobile operating systems, networks, technologies, products, hardware and standards that we do not control.
A substantial majority of our customers’ activity on our platform occurs on mobile devices. There is no guarantee that popular mobile devices will continue to feature the Robinhood app, or that mobile device
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customers will continue to use our products and services rather than those of our competitors. We are dependent on the interoperability of our app with popular mobile operating systems, networks, technologies, products, hardware and standards that we do not control, such as the Android and iOS operating systems. Any changes, bugs or technical issues in such systems or changes in our relationships with mobile operating system partners, device manufacturers or mobile carriers, or in their terms of service or policies that degrade the functionality of our app, reduce or eliminate our ability to distribute applications, give preferential treatment to competitive products, limit our ability to target or measure the effectiveness of applications, or impose fees or other charges related to our delivery of our application could adversely affect customer usage of the Robinhood app. Further, we are subject to the standard policies and terms of service of these operating systems, as well as policies and terms of service of the various application stores that make our application and experiences available to our developers, creators and customers. These policies and terms of service govern the availability, promotion, distribution, content and operation generally of applications and experiences on such operating systems and stores. Each provider of these operating systems and stores has broad discretion to change and interpret its terms of service and policies with respect to our platform and those changes may be unfavorable to us and our developers’, creators’ and customers’ use of our platform. If we were to violate, or an operating system provider or application store believes that we have violated, its terms of service or policies, that operating system provider or application store could limit or discontinue our access to its operating system or store. In some cases these requirements may not be clear or our interpretation of the requirements may not align with the interpretation of the operating system provider or application store, which could lead to inconsistent enforcement of these terms of service or policies against us, and could also result in the operating system provider or application store limiting or discontinuing access to its operating system or store. Any limitation or discontinuation of our access to any third-party platform or application store could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Additionally, in order to deliver a high-quality mobile experience for our customers, it is important that our products and services work well with a range of mobile technologies, products, systems, networks, hardware and standards that we do not control, and that we have good relationships with mobile operating system partners, device manufacturers and mobile carriers. We may not be successful in maintaining or developing relationships with key participants in the mobile ecosystem or in developing products that operate effectively with these technologies, products, systems, networks or standards. In the event that it is more difficult for our customers to access and use our app, or if our customers choose not to access or use our app on their mobile devices or use mobile products that do not offer access to our app, our customer growth and engagement could be harmed. In the event that our customers are adversely affected by these actions or if our relationships with such third parties deteriorate, our customer growth and engagement could be adversely affected and our business could be harmed.
We rely on third parties to perform certain key functions, and their failure to perform those functions could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely on certain third-party computer systems or third-party service providers, including cloud technology providers such as Amazon Web Services, internet service providers, payment services providers, market and third-party data providers, regulatory services providers, clearing systems, market makers, exchange systems, banking systems, co-location facilities, communications facilities and other facilities to run our platform, facilitate trades by our customers and support or carry out certain regulatory obligations. In addition, external content providers provide us with financial information, market news, charts, option and stock quotes, cryptocurrency quotes, research reports and other fundamental data that we provide to our customers. These providers are susceptible to operational, technological and security vulnerabilities, including security breaches, which may impact our business, and our ability to monitor our third-party service providers’ data security is limited. In addition, these third-party service providers may rely on subcontractors to provide services to us that face similar risks. Any interruption in these third-party services, or deterioration in the quality of their service or performance, could be disruptive to our business. See also “Risks Related to Our Platform, Systems and Technology—We primarily rely on
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Amazon Web Services to deliver our services to customers on our platform, and any disruption of or interference with our use of Amazon Web Services could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
Any failure or security breaches by or of our third-party service providers or their subcontractors that result in an interruption in service, unauthorized access, misuse, loss or destruction of data or other similar occurrences could interrupt our business, cause us to incur losses, result in decreased customer satisfaction and increase customer attrition, subject us to customer complaints, significant fines, litigation, disputes, claims, regulatory investigations or other inquiries and harm our reputation. See alsoRisks Related to Our Platform, Systems and Technology—Our platform has been, and may in the future be, subject to interruption and instability due to operational and technological failures, whether internal or external.” Through contractual provisions and third-party risk management processes, we take steps to require that our providers, and their subcontractors, protect our data and information, including personal data. However, due to the size and complexity of our technology platform and services, the amount of data that we store and the number of customers, employees and third-party service providers with access to personal data, we, our third-party service providers and their subcontractors are potentially vulnerable to a variety of intentional and inadvertent cybersecurity breaches and other security-related incidents and threats, which could result in a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation. Any contractual protections we may have from our third-party service providers may not be sufficient to adequately protect us against such consequences, and we may be unable to enforce any such contractual protections.
In addition, there is no assurance that our third-party service providers or their subcontractors will be able to continue to provide these services to meet our current needs in an efficient, cost-effective manner or that they will be able to adequately expand their services to meet our needs in the future. An interruption in or the cessation of service by our third-party service providers or their subcontractors, coupled with our possible inability to make alternative arrangements in a smooth, cost-effective and timely manner, could have adverse effects on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Further, if there were deficiencies in the oversight and control of our third-party relationships, and if our regulators held us responsible for those deficiencies, it could have an adverse effect on our business, reputation and results of operations.
We primarily rely on Amazon Web Services to deliver our services to customers on our platform, and any disruption of or interference with our use of Amazon Web Services could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We currently host our platform and support our operations on datacenters provided by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, a third-party provider of cloud infrastructure services. Our operations depend on protecting the virtual cloud infrastructure hosted in AWS by maintaining its configuration, architecture and interconnection specifications, as well as the information stored in these virtual data centers and which third-party internet service providers transmit. Furthermore, we do not have physical access to or control over the operations of the facilities of AWS that we use. AWS’ facilities are vulnerable to damage or interruption from natural disasters, cybersecurity attacks, terrorist attacks, power outages, and similar events or acts of misconduct. See also “Risks Related to Our Platform, Systems and Technology—Our platform has been, and may in the future be, subject to interruption and instability due to operational and technological failures, whether internal or external.” Our platform’s continuing and uninterrupted performance is critical to our success. We have experienced, and expect that in the future we will experience, disruptions, interruptions, delays, and outages in service and availability from time to time due to a variety of factors, including infrastructure changes, human or software errors, website hosting disruptions, and capacity constraints. Although we carry business interruption insurance, it may not be sufficient to compensate us for the potentially significant losses, including the potential harm to the future growth of our business that may result from interruptions in our services or products.
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In addition, any changes in AWS’ service levels may adversely affect our ability to meet the requirements of customers on our platform. Since our platform’s continuing and uninterrupted performance is critical to our success, sustained or repeated system failures would reduce the attractiveness of our platform. It may become increasingly difficult to maintain and improve our performance, especially during peak usage times, as we expand and the usage of our platform increases. Any of the above circumstances or events or any negative publicity arising from such disruptions may harm our reputation and brand, reduce the availability or usage of our platform, lead to a significant short-term loss of revenue, increase our costs, and impair our ability to attract new customers, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our commercial agreement with AWS will remain in effect until terminated by AWS or us pursuant to such agreement. AWS may terminate the agreement for convenience by providing us at least two years’ prior written notice. AWS may also terminate the agreement for cause upon a material breach of the agreement, subject to AWS providing prior written notice and a 30-day cure period. If AWS reasonably determines that our or any end users’ use of its services poses a security risk or threat to the function of their service offerings, AWS may also terminate the agreement for cause upon 90 days’ prior written notice and a 90-day cure period. AWS may also terminate the agreement upon 30 days’ prior written notice in order to comply with applicable law or requirements of governmental entities. Even though our platform is entirely in the cloud, we believe that we could transition to one or more alternative cloud infrastructure providers on commercially reasonable terms. In the event that our agreement with AWS is terminated or we add additional cloud infrastructure service providers, we may experience significant costs, interruptions in access to our website or online app or downtime in connection with the transfer to, or the addition of, new cloud infrastructure service providers.
Risks Related to Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
Our business could be materially and adversely affected by a cybersecurity breach or other attack involving our computer systems or data or those of our customers or third-party service providers.
Our systems and those of our customers and third-party service providers have been and may in the future be vulnerable to hardware and cybersecurity issues. We, like other financial technology organizations, routinely are subject to cybersecurity threats and our technologies, systems and networks have been and may in the future be subject to attempted cybersecurity attacks. Such issues are increasing in frequency and evolving in nature. See also “Risks Related to Our Platform, Systems and Technology—Our platform has been, and may in the future be, subject to interruption and instability due to operational and technological failures, whether internal or external.
Concerns about security increase when we transmit information (including personal data) electronically. Electronic transmissions can be subject to attack, interception, loss or corruption. In addition, computer viruses and malware can be distributed and spread rapidly over the internet and could infiltrate our systems or those of our customers or third-party service providers. Infiltration of our systems or those of our customers or third-party service providers could in the future lead to disruptions in systems, accidental or unauthorized access to or disclosure, loss, destruction, disablement or encryption of, use or misuse of or modification of confidential, sensitive or otherwise protected information (including personal data) and the corruption of data.
Cybersecurity attacks and other malicious internet-based activity continue to increase and financial technology platform providers have been and are expected to continue to be targeted. In light of media attention concerning increases in our number of customers and amount of customer assets, including since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may be a particularly attractive target of malicious attacks seeking to access customer data or assets. In addition to traditional computer “hackers,” malicious code (such as viruses and worms), employee theft or misuse and denial-of-service attacks, sophisticated nation-state and nation-state supported actors now engage in attacks (including advanced persistent threat intrusions). Further, advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography,
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inadequate facility security or other developments may result in a compromise or breach of the technology we use to protect customer data. As the breadth and complexity of the technologies we use and the software and platforms we develop continue to grow, including as a result of the use of mobile devices, cloud services, open source software, social media and the increased reliance on devices connected to the internet (known as the "Internet of Things"), the potential risk of security breaches and cybersecurity attacks also increases. Despite ongoing efforts to improve our ability to protect data from compromise, we may not be able to protect all of our data across our diverse systems. Our efforts to improve security and protect data from compromise may also identify previously undiscovered instances of security breaches or other cyber incidents. Our policies, employee training (including phishing prevention training), procedures and technical safeguards may also be insufficient to prevent or detect improper access to confidential, proprietary or sensitive data, including personal data.
Additionally, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased risk that we may experience cybersecurity-related incidents as a result of our employees, service providers and other third parties working remotely on less secure systems and environments. Controls employed by our information technology department and our customers and third-party service providers, including cloud vendors, could prove inadequate.
Information security risks for financial service providers are increasing, in part because of the use of the internet and mobile technologies to conduct financial transactions and, in the case of cryptocurrencies, the use of digital wallets. In addition, the highly automated nature of our products and services, as well as the liquidity offered by products and services such as our Cash Management product, make us and our customers a target for illegal or improper uses, including fraudulent transactions. Those committing fraud using stolen or fabricated debit cards or account numbers, or other deceptive or malicious practices, potentially can steal significant amounts of money from businesses and customers like ours. In providing products and services to customers, we rely on our ability to manage, use, store, disclose, transfer and otherwise process a large volume of customer data, including personal information and other sensitive information.
While we take efforts to protect our systems and data, including establishing internal processes and implementing technological measures designed to provide multiple layers of security, and contract with third-party service providers to take similar steps, we have experienced cybersecurity breaches in the past, and there can be no assurance that our safety and security measures (and those of our third-party service providers) will prevent damage to, or interruption or breach of, our information systems, data (including personal data) and operations. We have recently taken steps to expand and enhance our cybersecurity controls and practices and, as cybersecurity-related threats continue to evolve, we may be required to expend significant additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our protective measures or to investigate and remediate any information security vulnerabilities. In addition, our remediation efforts may not be successful. Certain measures that could increase the security of our systems take significant time and resources to deploy broadly, and such measures may not be deployed in a timely manner or be effective against an attack. The inability to implement, maintain and upgrade adequate safeguards could have a material and adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Moreover, there could be public announcements regarding any cybersecurity-related incidents and any steps we take to respond to or remediate such incidents, and if securities analysts or investors perceive these announcements to be negative, it could, among other things, have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Further, any publicized security problems affecting our businesses or those of third parties with whom we are affiliated or otherwise conduct business may discourage consumers from doing business with us, which could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
It is difficult or impossible to defend against every risk being posed by changing technologies, as well as criminals’ intent to commit cyber-crime, and these efforts may not be successful in anticipating, preventing, detecting or stopping attacks, or reacting in a timely manner. The increasing sophistication
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and resources of cyber criminals and other non-state threat actors and increased actions by nation-state actors make it difficult to keep up with new threats and could result in a breach of security. Additionally, we cannot guarantee that our insurance coverage would be sufficient to cover all losses. See “—Risks Related to Finance, Accounting and Tax Matters—Our insurance coverage may be inadequate or expensive.”
To the extent the operation of our systems relies on our third-party service providers, through either a connection to, or an integration with, third-parties’ systems, the risk of cybersecurity attacks and loss, corruption, or unauthorized access to or publication of our information or the confidential information and personal data of customers and employees may increase. Third-party risks may include insufficient security measures, data location uncertainty, and the possibility of data storage in inappropriate jurisdictions where laws or security measures may be inadequate, and our ability to monitor our third-party service providers’ data security practices are limited. Although we generally have agreements relating to cybersecurity and data privacy in place with our third-party service providers, they are limited in nature and we cannot guarantee that such agreements will prevent the accidental or unauthorized access to or disclosure, loss, destruction, disablement or encryption of, use or misuse of or modification of data (including personal data) or enable us to obtain adequate or any reimbursement from our third-party service providers in the event we should suffer any such incidents. Due to applicable laws and regulations or contractual obligations, we may be held responsible for any information security failure or cybersecurity attack attributed to our vendors as they relate to the information we share with them. A vulnerability in a third-party service provider’s software or systems, a failure of our third-party service providers’ safeguards, policies or procedures, or a breach of a third-party service provider’s software or systems could result in the compromise of the confidentiality, integrity or availability of our systems or the data housed in our third-party solutions.
We collect, store, share, disclose, transfer, use and otherwise process customer information and other data, including personal data, and an actual or perceived failure by us or our third-party service providers to protect such information and data or respect customers’ privacy could damage our reputation and brand, negatively affect our ability to retain customers and harm our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows and prospects.
The operation of our platform involves the use, collection, storage, sharing, disclosure, transfer and other processing of customer information, including personal data, and security breaches and other security incidents could expose us to a risk of loss or exposure of this information, which could result in potential liability, investigations, regulatory fines, penalties for violation of applicable laws or regulations, litigation, and remediation costs, as well as reputational harm. Any or all of the issues above could adversely affect our ability to attract new customers and continue our relationship with existing customers, cause our customers to stop using our products and services, result in negative publicity or subject us to governmental, regulatory or third-party lawsuits, disputes, investigations, orders, regulatory fines, penalties for violation of applicable laws or regulations or other actions or liability, thereby harming our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows, and prospects. Any accidental or unauthorized access to or disclosure, loss, destruction, disablement or encryption of, use or misuse of or modification of data, including personal data, cybersecurity breach or other security incident that we, our customers or our third-party service providers experience or the perception that one has occurred or may occur, could harm our reputation, reduce the demand for our products and services and disrupt normal business operations. In addition, it may require us to expend significant financial and operational resources in response to a security breach, including repairing system damage, increasing security protection costs by deploying additional personnel and modifying or enhancing our protection technologies, investigating, remediating or correcting the breach and any security vulnerabilities, defending against and resolving legal and regulatory claims, and preventing future security breaches and incidents, all of which could expose us to uninsured liability, increase our risk of regulatory scrutiny, expose us to legal liabilities, including litigation, regulatory enforcement, indemnity obligations or damages for contract breach, divert resources and the attention of our management and key personnel away from our business operations, and cause us to incur significant costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our business,
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financial condition, and results of operations. Moreover, there could be public announcements regarding any such incidents and any steps we take to respond to or remediate such incidents, and if securities analysts or investors perceive these announcements to be negative, it could have an adverse effect on the trading price of our common stock.
Security incidents have occurred in the past, and future incidents may result in unauthorized access to, loss of or unauthorized disclosure of this data, regulatory enforcement actions, litigation, indemnity obligations and other possible liabilities, as well as negative publicity. For example, from January 1, 2020 to October 16, 2020, approximately 2,000 Robinhood customer accounts were allegedly accessed by unauthorized users. Although this incident was not the result of an unauthorized breach of our systems, we experienced negative publicity in connection with this incident and may in the future experience similar adverse effects relating to security incidents we experience, whether or not related to the security of our platform or systems. On January 8, 2021, a putative class action was filed against us in the Superior Court of the State of California in connection with this incident. Plaintiffs generally allege that RHF and RHS breached commitments made and duties owed to customers to safeguard customer data and assets. Plaintiffs assert eight causes of action for purported violations of common law, a right to privacy, and certain California statutes, including the CCPA. We have also received customer complaints, regulatory inquiries, examinations, enforcement actions and investigations by various state and federal regulatory bodies, including the SEC, FINRA and certain state regulators, including the NYDFS and the New York Attorney General, related to this incident. For more information, see “Business—Legal Proceedings—Account Takeovers.” A breach of our security that results in unauthorized access to our data could expose us to a disruption or challenges relating to our daily operations, as well as to data loss, litigation, disputes, regulatory investigations, orders, damages, fines and penalties, indemnity obligations, damages for contract breach, penalties for violation of applicable laws and regulations, significant increases in compliance costs and reputational damage, any of which could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows and prospects.
We are subject to stringent laws, rules, regulations, policies, industry standards and contractual obligations regarding data privacy and security and may be subject to additional related laws and regulations in jurisdictions into which we expand. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and reinterpretation and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, increased cost of operations or other harm to our business.
We are subject to a variety of federal, state, local, and non-U.S. laws, directives, rules, policies, industry standards and regulations, as well as contractual obligations, relating to privacy and the collection, protection, use, retention, security, disclosure, transfer and other processing of personal data and other data, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (“GLBA”), Section 5(c) of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the CCPA. The regulatory framework for data privacy and security worldwide is continuously evolving and developing and, as a result, interpretation and implementation standards and enforcement practices are likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. New laws, amendments to or reinterpretations of existing laws, regulations, standards and other obligations may require us to incur additional costs and restrict our business operations, and may require us to change how we use, collect, store, transfer or otherwise process certain types of personal data and to implement new processes to comply with those laws and our customers’ exercise of their rights thereunder.
In the U.S., federal law, such as the GLBA and its implementing regulations, restricts certain collection, processing, storage, use and disclosure of personal data, requires notice to individuals of privacy practices and provides individuals with certain rights to prevent the use and disclosure of certain nonpublic or otherwise legally protected information. These rules also impose requirements for the safeguarding and proper destruction of personal data through the issuance of data security standards or guidelines. The U.S. government, including Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, has announced that it is reviewing the need for greater regulation for the collection, use and other processing of information concerning consumer behavior on the internet, including regulation aimed at restricting certain targeted advertising practices. There is also a risk of
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enforcement actions in response to rules and regulations promulgated under the authority of federal agencies and state attorneys general and legislatures and consumer protection agencies. In addition, privacy advocates and industry groups have proposed and may propose new and different self-regulatory standards that either legally or contractually apply to us. If we fail to follow these security standards, even if no customer information is compromised, we may incur significant fines or experience a significant increase in costs.
Numerous states have enacted or are in the process of enacting state-level data privacy laws and regulations governing the collection, use, and other processing of state residents’ personal data. For example, the CCPA, which took effect on January 1, 2020, established a new privacy framework for covered businesses such as ours, and may require us to modify our data processing practices and policies and incur compliance related costs and expenses. The CCPA provides new and enhanced data privacy rights to California residents, such as affording California residents the right to access and delete their information and to opt out of certain sharing and sales of personal information. The law also prohibits covered businesses from discriminating against California residents (for example, charging more for services) for exercising any of their CCPA rights. The CCPA imposes severe civil penalties and statutory damages as well as a private right of action for certain data breaches that result in the loss of personal information. This private right of action is expected to increase the likelihood of, and risks associated with, data breach litigation. However, it remains unclear how various provisions of the CCPA will be interpreted and enforced. In November 2020, California voters passed the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (“CPRA”). Effective in most material respects starting on January 1, 2023, the CPRA will impose additional obligations on companies covered by the legislation and will significantly modify the CCPA, including by expanding the CCPA with additional data privacy compliance requirements that may impact our business. The CPRA also establishes a regulatory agency dedicated to enforcing the CCPA and the CPRA. The effects of the CPRA, the CCPA, other similar state or federal laws and other future changes in laws or regulations relating to privacy, data protection and information security, particularly any new or modified laws or regulations that require enhanced protection of certain types of data or new obligations with regard to data retention, transfer or disclosure, are significant and may require us to modify our data processing practices and policies and could greatly increase the cost of providing our offerings, require significant changes to our operations or even prevent us from providing certain offerings in jurisdictions in which we currently operate and in which we may operate in the future or incur potential liability in an effort to comply with such legislation.
The CPRA and the CCPA may lead other states to pass comparable legislation, with potentially greater penalties and more rigorous compliance requirements relevant to our business. For example, many state legislatures have adopted legislation that regulates how businesses operate online, including measures relating to privacy, data security, data breaches and the protection of sensitive and personal information. Laws in all 50 states require businesses to provide notice to customers whose personally identifiable information has been disclosed as a result of a data breach. The laws are not consistent, as certain state laws may be more stringent or broader in scope, or offer greater individual rights, with respect to sensitive and personal information than federal, international or other state laws, and such laws may differ from each other, which may complicate compliance efforts. Compliance in the event of a widespread data breach may be costly.
The NYDFS also issued Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies, which took effect in 2017, and which require banks, insurance companies and other financial services institutions regulated by the NYDFS, including RHC, to establish and maintain a cybersecurity program designed to protect consumers and ensure the safety and soundness of New York State’s financial services industry. The cybersecurity regulation adds specific requirements for these institutions’ cybersecurity compliance programs and imposes an obligation to conduct ongoing, comprehensive risk assessments. Further, on an annual basis, each institution is required to submit a certification of compliance with these requirements. We have in the past and may in the future be subject to investigations and examinations by the NYDFS regarding, among other things, our cybersecurity practices. In particular, in July 2020, the NYDFS issued a report of its examination of RHC citing certain of our cybersecurity practices as “matters
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requiring attention.” Following subsequent investigation by the NYDFS’s Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division, in March 2021, NYDFS informed RHC of certain alleged violations of, among other things, cybersecurity and virtual currency (Part 500 and Part 200) requirements, including certain deficiencies in our policies and procedures regarding risk assessment, lack of an adequate incident response and business continuity plan, and deficiencies in our application development security. RHC is cooperating with the NYDFS with respect to these allegations. See “Business—Legal Proceedings—RHC Anti-Money Laundering and Other Cybersecurity-Related Issues” for more information.
We make public statements about our use, collection, disclosure and other processing of personal data through our privacy policies, information provided on our website and press statements. Although we endeavor to comply with our public statements and documentation, we may at times fail to do so or be alleged to have failed to do so. The publication of our privacy policies and other statements that provide promises and assurances about data privacy and security can subject us to potential government or legal action if they are found to be deceptive, unfair or misrepresentative of our actual practices. Any failure or perceived failure by us or our third-party service providers to comply with our posted privacy policies or with any applicable federal, state or similar foreign laws, rules, regulations, industry standards, policies, certifications or orders relating to data privacy and security, or any compromise of security that results in the theft, unauthorized access, acquisition, use, disclosure, or misappropriation of personal data or other customer data, could result in significant awards, fines, civil and/or criminal penalties or judgments, proceedings or litigation by governmental agencies or customers, including class action privacy litigation in certain jurisdictions and negative publicity and reputational harm, one or all of which could have an adverse effect on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may face particular privacy, data security, and data protection risks as we continue to expand into the U.K. and the EU in connection with the GDPR and other data protection regulations.
International expansion into the U.K. and the EU in the future, as well as the fact that our U.K.-based subsidiary has a limited number of U.K.- and EU-based employees and contractors, subjects us or may subject us to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), supplemented by national laws and further implemented through binding guidance from the European Data Protection Board, which regulates the collection, control, sharing, disclosure, use and other processing of personal data and imposes stringent data protection requirements with significant penalties, and the risk of civil litigation, for noncompliance. As described further below, following Brexit, we also are subject to the U.K. General Data Protection Regulation (“U.K. GDPR”) (i.e., a version of the GDPR as implemented into U.K. law). Among other requirements, the GDPR regulates transfers of personal data subject to the GDPR to third countries that have not been found to provide adequate protection to such personal data, including the U.S. While we have taken steps to mitigate the impact on us with respect to transfers of data, such as implementing standard contractual clauses, the efficacy and longevity of these transfer mechanisms remains uncertain. The enactment of the GDPR also introduced numerous privacy-related changes for companies operating in the EU, including greater control for data subjects (including, for example, the “right to be forgotten”), increased data portability for EU consumers, data breach notification requirements, and increased fines. In particular, under the GDPR, fines of up to €20 million or up to 4% of the annual global revenue of the non-compliant company, whichever is greater, could be imposed for violations of certain of the GDPR’s requirements. Such penalties are in addition to any civil litigation claims by customers and data subjects. The GDPR requirements will likely apply not only to third-party transactions, but also to transfers of information between us and our subsidiaries, including employee information.
As of January 2021 (when the transitional period following Brexit expired), we have been required to comply with both the GDPR and the U.K. GDPR to the extent of our operations in the U.K. (given the conduct of activities falling under each law), exposing us to two parallel regimes with potentially divergent interpretations and enforcement actions for certain violations. The relationship between the U.K. and the EU in relation to certain aspects of data protection law remains unclear, for example, with how data transfers between EU member states and the U.K. will be treated and the role of the U.K.’s Information
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Commissioner’s Office with respect to the EU following the end of the transitional period. Following the expiration of such period, there will be increasing scope for divergence in application, interpretation and enforcement of the data protection law as between the U.K. and EEA.
Other countries have also passed or are considering passing laws requiring local data residency or restricting the international transfer of data. These changes may lead to additional costs and increase our overall risk exposure. Any inability to adequately address data privacy or security-related concerns, even if unfounded, or to comply with applicable laws, regulations, standards and other obligations relating to data privacy and security, could result in litigation, breach notification obligations, regulatory or administrative sanctions, additional cost and liability to us, harm to our reputation and brand, damage to our relationships with customers and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Our Brokerage Products and Services
If we do not maintain the capital levels required by regulators and SROs, or do not satisfy the cash deposit and collateral requirements imposed by certain other SROs such as the DTC, NSCC and OCC, our broker-dealer business may be restricted and we may be fined or subject to other disciplinary or corrective actions, which could harm our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows and prospects. In a worst-case scenario, failure to maintain these requirements could lead to our broker-dealer business being liquidated or wound down.
The SEC, FINRA and various other SROs have stringent rules with respect to the maintenance of specific levels of net capital and clearinghouse deposits by securities broker-dealers. Our failure to maintain the required net capital levels could result in immediate suspension of securities activities, suspension or expulsion by the SEC or FINRA, restrictions on our ability to expand our existing business or to commence new businesses and could ultimately lead to the liquidation of our broker-dealer entities and winding down of our broker-dealer business. If such net capital rules are changed or expanded, if there is an unusually large charge against net capital, or if we make changes in our business operations that increase our capital requirements, operations that require an intensive use of capital could be limited. A large operating loss or charge against net capital could have adverse effects on our ability to maintain or expand our business. See “Business—Regulation—Brokerage Regulation and Regulatory Capital and Deposit Requirements—Net Capital and Deposit Requirements” for more information about our net capital requirements.
In addition to SEC and FINRA net capital requirements, as a clearing and carrying broker-dealer, RHS is subject to cash deposit and collateral requirements under the rules of the DTC, NSCC and OCC, which may fluctuate significantly from time to time based upon the nature and size of customers’ trading activity and market volatility. Because stock trades generally settle at the clearinghouse two days after execution, RHS is required to deposit funds, the amount of which can be significant, to ensure that RHS can meet its settlement obligations. The funds deposited are RHS funds and, under SEC rules, customer funds are not available to be used to satisfy clearinghouse deposit requirements. If RHS fails to meet any such deposit requirements, its ability to settle trades through the clearinghouse may be suspended or RHS may restrict trading in certain stocks in order to limit clearinghouse deposit requirements. In either event, RHS may be exposed to significant losses or disruptions in customers’ ability to trade. For example, the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions were implemented by RHS due to increased deposit requirements imposed on RHS by the NSCC in response to the unprecedented market volatility. In a worst case scenario, if RHS is unable to satisfy its deposit requirements, the NSCC may cease to act for RHS and liquidate its unsettled clearing portfolio. See “Business—Legal Proceedings—Early 2021 Trading Restrictions Matters” and “—Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We are involved in numerous litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations” for more information about the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions, and see “Business—Regulation—Brokerage Regulation and Regulatory
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Capital and Deposit Requirements—Net Capital and Deposit Requirements” for more information about RHS’s deposit requirements.
Where we have subsidiaries that are or will be licensed and regulated in certain U.S. states or non-U.S. jurisdictions, those entities are or will be subject to their own regulatory capital rules and requirements that they, and we as a group, need to or will need to comply with to avoid censure or other adverse consequences. Changes in those rules, or changes in our business operations, may result in changes to the amount of capital that is needed by those entities, which could have an adverse effect on the operational costs of running those businesses or to the viability of those businesses.
Our compliance and risk management policies and procedures as a regulated financial services company may not be fully effective in identifying or mitigating compliance and risk exposure in all market environments or against all types of risk.
As a financial services company operating in the securities industry, among others, our business exposes us to a number of heightened risks. We have devoted significant resources to develop our compliance and risk management policies and procedures and will continue to do so, but there can be no assurance these are sufficient, especially as our business is rapidly growing and evolving. Nonetheless, our limited operating history, evolving business and rapid growth make it difficult to predict all of the risks and challenges we may encounter and may increase the risk that our policies and procedures to identify, monitor and manage compliance risks may not be fully effective in mitigating our exposure in all market environments or against all types of risk. Further, some controls are manual and are subject to inherent limitations and errors in oversight. This could cause our compliance and other risk management strategies to be ineffective. Other compliance and risk management methods depend upon the evaluation of information regarding markets, customers, catastrophe occurrence or other matters that are publicly available or otherwise accessible to us, which may not always be accurate, complete, up-to-date or properly evaluated. Insurance and other traditional risk-shifting tools may be held by or available to us in order to manage certain exposures, but they are subject to terms such as deductibles, coinsurance, limits and policy exclusions, as well as risk of counterparty denial of coverage, default or insolvency. Any failure to maintain effective compliance and other risk management strategies could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. We are also exposed to heightened regulatory risk because our business is subject to extensive regulation and oversight in a variety of areas, and such regulations are subject to evolving interpretations and application and it can be difficult to predict how they may be applied to our business, particularly as we introduce new products and services and expand into new jurisdictions. Any perceived or actual breach of laws and regulations could negatively impact our business, financial condition or results of operations. It is possible that these laws and regulations could be interpreted or applied in a manner that would prohibit, alter, or impair our existing or planned products and services.
We are subject to potential losses as a result of our clearing and execution activities.
RHS provides clearing and execution services for our securities brokerage business. Clearing and execution services include the confirmation, receipt, settlement and delivery functions involved in securities transactions. Clearing brokers also assume direct responsibility for the possession or control of customer securities and other assets, the clearing of customer securities transactions and lending money to customers on margin. Our clearing operations require a commitment of our capital and, despite safeguards implemented by our software, involve risks of losses due to the potential failure of our customers to perform their obligations under these transactions and margin loans. If our customers default on their obligations, including failing to pay for securities purchased, deliver securities sold or meet margin calls, we remain financially liable for such obligations, and although these obligations are collateralized, we are subject to market risk in the liquidation of customer collateral to satisfy those obligations. While we have established systems and processes to manage risks related to our clearing and execution services, there can be no assurance that such systems and processes will be adequate. Any liability arising from clearing and margin operations could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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In addition, as a clearing member firm of securities and derivatives clearinghouses in the United States, we are also exposed to clearing member credit risk. Securities and derivatives clearinghouses require member firms to deposit cash, stock and/or government securities for margin requirements and to clearing funds. If a clearing member defaults in its obligations to the clearinghouse in an amount larger than its own margin and clearing fund deposits, the shortfall is absorbed pro rata from the deposits of the other clearing members. Many clearinghouses of which we are members also have the authority to assess their members for additional funds if the clearing fund is depleted. A large clearing member default could result in a substantial cost to us if we are required to pay such assessments.
When our customers purchase securities on margin or trade options, we are subject to the risk that our customers may default on their obligations when the value of the securities and cash in their accounts falls below the amount of the customers’ indebtedness. Abrupt changes in securities valuations, which are subject to fluctuations and subjectivity, and the failure of customers to meet margin calls could result in substantial losses.
Further, in addition to SEC and FINRA net capital requirements, as a clearing and carrying broker-dealer, RHS is subject to cash deposit and collateral requirements under the rules of the DTC, NSCC and OCC. Stock trades generally settle at the clearinghouse two days after execution and clearinghouses may require a broker-dealer participant to deposit funds to ensure that the broker-dealer can meet its settlement obligations. These deposit requirements are designed to mitigate risk to the clearinghouse and its participants and can be large, especially if positions are concentrated in particular stocks, are predominantly in the same direction (i.e., predominantly buys or predominantly sells) or if the stock prices are volatile. The funds deposited are RHS funds and, under SEC rules, customer funds are not available to be used to satisfy clearinghouse deposit requirements. If RHS fails to meet any such deposit requirements, its ability to settle trades through the clearinghouse may be suspended or it may restrict trading in certain stocks in order to limit clearinghouse deposit requirements (as in the case of the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions), which could result in our customers leaving our platform or subject us to litigation or regulatory or U.S. Congressional investigations and inquiries. In such case, RHS may be exposed to significant losses or disruptions in customers’ ability to trade. Furthermore, in the event that a significant amount of customers’ open trades fail to settle, RHS may be exposed to potential loss of the deposits and capital expended to meet its deposit requirements. Any liability arising in connection with any such events could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In a worst-case scenario, if RHS is unable to satisfy its deposit requirements, the NSCC may cease to act for RHS and liquidate its unsettled clearing portfolio. See “Business—Legal Proceedings” and “—Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We are involved in numerous litigation matters that are expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations” for more information about the Early 2021 Trading Restrictions, and see “Business—Regulation—Brokerage Regulation and Regulatory Capital and Deposit Requirements—Net Capital and Deposit Requirements” for more information about RHS’s net capital and deposit requirements.
Any inability to maintain adequate banking relationships with respect to our Cash Management product may adversely affect our business.
In 2019, we launched our Cash Management product, under which we offer customers the ability to spend and earn interest on funds in their brokerage account that are not otherwise invested. Our customers who opt in to our Cash Management product have their uninvested cash automatically moved into deposits at a network of program banks. In connection with this service, we rely heavily on our relationships with partner banks to ensure the continued effectiveness of our Cash Management product. There can be no assurance that we will be able to maintain or establish adequate banking relationships. If we are unable to maintain and adequately grow our network of bank partners, our Cash Management product may be adversely impacted. In addition, if we cannot maintain sufficient relationships with the appropriate banks that provide these services, we would be required to implement alternative cash management procedures, which may result in increased costs.
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Our exposure to credit risk with customers and counterparties could result in losses.
We extend margin credit and leverage to customers, which are collateralized by customer cash and securities. We also borrow and lend securities in connection with our broker-dealer business. By permitting customers to purchase securities on margin, we are subject to risks inherent in extending credit, especially during periods of rapidly declining markets (including rapid declines in the trading price of individual securities) in which the value of the collateral held by us could fall below the amount of a customer’s indebtedness. In addition, in accordance with regulatory guidelines, we collateralize borrowings of securities by depositing cash or securities with lenders. Sharp changes in market values of substantial amounts of securities in a short period of time and the failure by parties to the borrowing transactions to honor their commitments could have adverse effects on our financial condition and results of operations. Such changes could also adversely impact our capital because our clearing operations require a commitment of our capital and, despite safeguards implemented by our software, involve risks of losses due to the potential failure of our customers to perform their obligations under these transactions and margin loans. We have policies and procedures designed to manage credit risk, but we cannot guarantee that such policies and procedures will be fully effective.
Providing investment education tools could subject us to additional risks if such tools are construed to be investment advice or recommendations.
We provide a variety of investment education and tools and financial news to our customers that we do not consider investment advice or an investment recommendation, but we cannot guarantee that such services could not be construed as constituting investment advice or recommendations by customers or regulatory agencies. Additionally, Robinhood Gold members have access to stock research reports prepared by our third-party partner, Morningstar, Inc. Risks associated with providing investment advice include those arising from how we disclose and address possible conflicts of interest, inadequate due diligence, inadequate disclosure, human error and fraud. New regulations, such as the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest and certain state broker-dealer regulations, will impose heightened conduct standards and requirements if we are deemed to provide recommendations to retail investors. In addition, various states are considering potential regulations or have already adopted certain regulations that could impose additional standards of conduct or other obligations on us if we provide investment advice or recommendations to our customers. Furthermore, we could be subject to investigations by regulatory agencies if our services are construed as constituting investment advice or recommendations. For example, in 2020, the MSD issued certain amendments to the Massachusetts securities law, which, among other things, apply a fiduciary conduct standard to broker-dealers and agents when dealing with their customers. In December 2020, the Enforcement Section of MSD filed a complaint against us stipulating that the fiduciary conduct standard applies to us by alleging that our product features and marketing strategies amount to investment recommendations. See “Business—Legal Proceedings” for more information. To the extent that the services we provide are construed or alleged to constitute investment advice or recommendations and we fail to satisfy regulatory requirements, fail to know our customers, improperly advise our customers, or risks associated with advisory services otherwise materialize, we could be found liable for losses suffered by such customers, or could be subject to regulatory fines, penalties and other actions such as business limitations, any of which could harm our reputation and business.
Risks Related to Our Cryptocurrency Products and Services
The loss, destruction or unauthorized use or access of a private key required to access any of our cryptocurrencies may result in irreversible loss of such cryptocurrencies. If we are unable to access our private keys or if we experience a hack or other data loss relating to the
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cryptocurrencies we hold on behalf of customers, our customers may be unable to trade their cryptocurrency and our reputation and business could be harmed.
Cryptocurrencies are controllable only by the possessor of both the unique public key and private key relating to the local or online digital wallet in which such currency is held. While blockchain ledgers require a public key relating to a digital wallet to be published when used in a transaction, private keys must be safeguarded and stored securely in order to prevent an unauthorized third party from accessing the assets held in such wallet. RHC manages two types of wallets: (i) hot wallets, which are managed online and (ii) cold wallets, which are managed entirely offline on a computer stored in one or more secure data facilities. To the extent any of our private keys are lost, destroyed, unable to be accessed by us or otherwise compromised and no backup of such private key is accessible, we will be unable to access the assets held in the related hot or cold wallet. Further, we cannot provide assurance that any or all of our wallets will not be hacked or compromised such that cryptocurrencies are sent to one or more private addresses that we do not control, which could result in the loss of some or all of the cryptocurrencies that RHC holds in custody on behalf of customers. Any such losses may be significant, and we may not be able to obtain insurance coverage for some or all of those losses. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, have been, and may in the future be, subject to security breaches, hacking or other malicious activities. Any loss of private keys relating to, or hack or other compromise of, hot wallets or cold wallets used to store our customers’ cryptocurrencies could result in total loss of customers’ cryptocurrencies (given our insurance coverage does not cover all customers’ cryptocurrency balances and cryptocurrency investments through RHC are not protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (the “SIPC”)) or adversely affect our customers’ ability to sell their assets and could harm customer trust in us and our products. For more information about our insurance coverage and its limitations, see “—Risks Related to Finance, Accounting and Tax Matters—Our insurance coverage may be inadequate or expensive.” Additionally, any such security compromises or any business continuity issues affecting our cryptocurrency market makers may affect the ability of our customers to trade or hold in cryptocurrencies on our platform and could harm customer trust in us and our products.
The prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile. Fluctuations in the price of various cryptocurrencies may cause uncertainty in the market and could negatively impact trading volumes of cryptocurrencies, which would adversely affect the success of RHC’s business, financial condition and results of operations.
The value of cryptocurrencies is based in part on market adoption and future expectations, which may or may not be realized. As a result, the prices of cryptocurrencies are highly speculative. The prices of cryptocurrencies have been subject to dramatic fluctuations to date. Several factors may affect price, including, but not limited to:
Global cryptocurrency supply, including various alternative currencies which exist, and global cryptocurrency demand, which can be influenced by the growth or decline of retail merchants’ and commercial businesses’ acceptance of cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services, the security of online cryptocurrency exchanges and digital wallets that hold cryptocurrencies, the perception that the use and holding of digital currencies is safe and secure and regulatory restrictions on their use.
Changes in the software, software requirements or hardware requirements underlying a blockchain network, such as a fork. Forks in the future are likely to occur and there is no assurance that such a fork would not result in a sustained decline in the market price of cryptocurrencies.
Changes in the rights, obligations, incentives or rewards for the various participants in a blockchain network.
The maintenance and development of the software protocol of cryptocurrencies.
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Cryptocurrency exchanges deposit and withdrawal policies and practices, liquidity on such exchanges and interruptions in service from or failures of such exchanges.
Regulatory measures, if any, that affect the use and value of crypto-assets.
Competition for and among various cryptocurrencies that exist and market preferences and expectations with respect to adoption of individual currencies.
Actual or perceived manipulation of the markets for cryptocurrencies.
Actual or perceived threats that cryptocurrencies and related activities such as mining have adverse effects on the environment or are tied to illegal activities.
Social media posts and other public communications by high-profile individuals relating to specific cryptocurrencies, or listing or other business decisions by cryptocurrency companies relating to specific cryptocurrencies.
Expectations with respect to the rate of inflation in the economy, monetary policies of governments, trade restrictions and currency devaluations and revaluations.
The cryptocurrency markets are volatile, and changes in the prices and/or trading volume of cryptocurrencies may adversely impact RHC’s growth strategy and business. In addition, while we have observed a positive trend in the total market capitalization of cryptocurrency assets historically, driven by increased adoption of cryptocurrency trading by both retail and institutional investors as well as continued growth of various non-investing use cases, historical trends are not indicative of future adoption, and it is possible that the adoption of cryptocurrencies may slow, take longer to develop or never be broadly adopted, which would negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. Volatility in the values of cryptocurrencies caused by the factors described above or other factors may impact our regulatory net worth requirements as well as the demand for our services and therefore have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Regulation of the cryptocurrency industry continues to evolve and is subject to change. Moreover, securities and commodities laws and regulations and other bodies of laws can apply to certain cryptocurrency businesses. These laws and regulations are complex, were frequently not designed or crafted with cryptocurrency technology in mind or with a sufficient understanding of cryptocurrency use cases and our interpretations of them may be subject to challenge by the relevant regulators. Future regulatory developments are impossible to predict with certainty. Changes in laws and regulations, or our failure to comply with them, may negatively impact our ability to allow customers to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies with us in the future and may significantly and adversely affect our business.
RHC provides users with the ability to buy, hold and sell a limited number of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies have experienced significant price volatility, technological glitches and various law enforcement and regulatory interventions. Both domestic and foreign regulators and governments are increasingly focused on the regulation of cryptocurrencies. In the United States, cryptocurrencies are regulated by both federal and state authorities, depending on the context of their usage. Regulation of cryptocurrencies continues to evolve. Cryptocurrency market disruptions and resulting governmental interventions are unpredictable, and may make cryptocurrencies, or certain cryptocurrency business activities, illegal altogether. There is a substantial risk of inconsistent regulatory guidance among federal and state agencies and among state governments which, along with potential accounting and tax issues or other requirements relating to cryptocurrencies, could impede the growth and operations of RHC.
RHC currently provides a trading platform for a limited number of cryptocurrencies that we have analyzed under applicable internal policies and procedures and do not believe are securities under the
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U.S. securities laws. However, our policies and procedures do not constitute a legal standard, and, regardless of our conclusions, we could be subject to legal or regulatory action in the event the SEC or a court were to determine that a cryptocurrency currently traded on our platform is a “security” under U.S. law. Although the SEC has not asserted that all cryptocurrencies are securities, the SEC Staff has indicated that the determination of whether or not a cryptocurrency is a security depends on the characteristics and use of that particular asset. In addition, the SEC has previously determined that certain cryptocurrencies traded on other platforms are securities, subject to federal securities laws. The classification of a cryptocurrency as a security under applicable law has wide-ranging implications for the regulatory obligations associated with the offer, sale, trading and clearing of such assets. For example, in the United States, securities (and therefore any cryptocurrencies deemed to be securities) may generally only be offered or sold in the United States pursuant to a registration statement filed with the SEC or in an offering that qualifies for an exemption from registration, and persons that effect transactions in cryptocurrencies that are securities in the United States may be subject to registration with the SEC as a broker or dealer. Any such determination that a cryptocurrency available for trading on our platform is a security could result in significant market dislocations, trading suspensions and lawsuits from customers. To the extent that the SEC or a court determines that any cryptocurrencies that are available for trading on the RHC platform are securities, that determination could prevent us from continuing to support trading of those cryptocurrencies. It may also result in regulatory enforcement penalties and financial losses to RHC in the event that RHC has liability to its customers and may need to compensate them for any losses or damages. A determination by a the SEC or a court that a cryptocurrency that we currently make available for trading on our platform constitutes a security may also result in us determining that it is advisable to remove other cryptocurrencies from our platform that have similar characteristics to the cryptocurrency that was determined to be a security.
In addition, the growth of RHC may be adversely affected if we are not able to expand RHC’s platform to include additional cryptocurrencies that the SEC has determined to be securities or that we believe are likely to be determined to be securities. Our business could be adversely affected by the listing and delisting of cryptocurrencies on our trading platform and general trends concerning cryptocurrencies. In addition, to the extent that future regulatory actions or policies limit or restrict cryptocurrency usage, custody or trading, or the ability to convert cryptocurrencies to fiat currencies, the demand for cryptocurrency trading may be reduced and it could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If in the future we were to allow customers to deposit and withdraw cryptocurrencies into and from our platform, such deposits and withdrawals could result in loss of customer assets, customer disputes and other liabilities, which could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We currently do not allow customers to deposit or withdraw cryptocurrencies into or from our platform, but we may offer this feature in the future. As noted above, cryptocurrencies are controllable only by the possessor of both the unique public key and private key relating to the local or online digital wallet in which such cryptocurrency is held. In order to deposit cryptocurrencies held by a customer into our platform, a customer would need to “sign” a transaction that consists of the private key of the wallet from which the customer is transferring cryptocurrency, direct the deposit using the public key of a wallet that we would control and which we would provide to the customer, and we would broadcast the deposit transaction onto the underlying blockchain network. Similarly, to withdraw cryptocurrencies from our platform, the customer would need to provide us with the public key of the wallet that the cryptocurrencies are to be transferred to, and a party with access to the private keys of wallet holding the cryptocurrency to be withdrawn would be required to “sign” a transaction authorizing the transfer. In addition, some crypto networks might require additional information to be provided in connection with any transfer of cryptocurrencies into or from our platform and wallets. A number of errors could occur in the process of depositing or withdrawing cryptocurrencies into or from our platform, such as typos, mistakes, or the failure to include the information required by the blockchain network. For instance, a user could incorrectly enter our wallet’s public key or the desired recipient’s public key when depositing and withdrawing from
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our platforms, respectively. Alternatively, a user could transfer cryptocurrencies to a wallet address that he or she does not own, control or hold the private keys to. In addition, each wallet address is only compatible with the underlying blockchain network on which it is created. For instance, a Bitcoin wallet address can only be used to send and receive Bitcoins. If any Ethereum or other cryptocurrency is sent to a Bitcoin wallet address, or if any of the foregoing errors occur, such cryptocurrencies could be permanently and irretrievably lost with no means of recovery. Such incidents could result in customer disputes, damage to our brand and reputation, legal claims against us, and financial liabilities, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Additionally, allowing customers to deposit and withdraw cryptocurrencies into and from our platform could expose us to heightened risks related to potential violations of trade sanctions, including OFAC regulations, and anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws if individuals specifically exploit this feature to conduct fraudulent transfers, illegal activity or money laundering. Such fraudulent transactions may be difficult or impossible for us to detect and void such transactions in certain circumstances. The use of our platform for illegal or improper purposes could subject us to claims, individual and class action lawsuits, and government and regulatory investigations, prosecutions, enforcement actions, inquiries, or requests that could result in liability and reputational harm for us. Any threatened or resulting claims could result in reputational harm, and any resulting liabilities, loss of transaction volume, or increased costs could harm our business, financial condition or results of operations. See “—Risks Related to Regulation and Litigation—We are subject to governmental laws and requirements regarding economic and trade sanctions, anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing that could impair our ability to compete in international markets or subject us to criminal or civil liability if we violate them.”
A temporary or permanent blockchain “fork” could adversely affect our business.
Blockchain protocols, including the Bitcoin and Ethereum software and protocols, are open source. Any user can download the software, modify it and then propose that Bitcoin or Ethereum users and miners adopt the modification. When a modification is introduced and a substantial majority of users and miners consent to the modification, the change is implemented and the Bitcoin or Ethereum network, as applicable, remains uninterrupted. However, if less than a substantial majority of users and miners consent to the proposed modification, and the modification is not compatible with the software prior to its modification, the consequence would be what is known as a “fork” (i.e., “split”) of the Bitcoin or Ethereum network, as applicable (and the blockchain), with one prong running the pre-modified software and the other running the modified software. The effect of such a fork would be the existence of two versions of the Bitcoin or Ethereum network, as applicable, running in parallel, but with each version’s currency (the asset) lacking interchangeability. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum have experienced “forks” relatively recently. A fork can lead to a disruption of networks and our information technology systems, which can further lead to temporary or even permanent loss of customer assets. Such disruption and loss could cause our company to be exposed to liability. Moreover, we may not wish to or be able to support an asset resulting from the fork of a network which may cause our customers to lose confidence in us or reduce their engagement on our platform.
Any inability to maintain adequate relationships with affiliates, third-party banks and trading venues with respect to, and any inability to settle customer trades related to, RHC’s cryptocurrency offerings, may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
RHC relies on its affiliates (including its affiliate clearing broker), third-party banks and trading venues to provide its cryptocurrency products and services to its customers. The cryptocurrency market operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cryptocurrency market does not have a centralized clearinghouse, and the transactions in cryptocurrencies on our platform rely on direct settlements between RHC and its customers and direct settlements between RHC and RHC’s trading venues after customer trades are executed. Accordingly, RHC relies on its affiliate clearing brokerage and third-party banks to facilitate cash settlements between customers’ brokerage accounts and RHC and relies on the ability of its trading venues to complete cryptocurrency settlements with RHC to obtain cryptocurrency for
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customer accounts. In addition, RHC must maintain cash assets in its bank accounts sufficient to meet the working capital needs of its business, which includes deploying available working capital to facilitate cash settlements between RHC and its customers or RHC and its trading venues. If RHC’s affiliate clearing broker, third-party banks or trading venues have operational failures and cannot perform and facilitate RHC’s routine cash and cryptocurrency settlement transactions, RHC will be unable to support normal trading operations on its cryptocurrency trading platform and these disruptions could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Similarly, if RHC fails to maintain cash assets in its bank accounts sufficient to meet the working capital needs of its business and necessary to complete routine cash settlements related to customer trading activity, such failure could impair RHC’s ability to support normal trading operations on our cryptocurrency platform and these disruptions could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may also be harmed by the loss of any of RHC’s banking partners and trading venues. As a result of the many regulations applicable to cryptocurrencies or the risks of crypto assets generally, many financial institutions have decided, and other financials may in the future decide, to not provide bank accounts (or access to bank accounts), payments services or other financial services to companies providing cryptocurrency products, including us. Consequently, if we or our trading venues cannot maintain sufficient relationships with the banks that provide these services, banking regulators restrict or prohibit banking of cryptocurrency businesses, or if these banks impose significant operational restrictions, it may be difficult for us to find alternative business partners for our cryptocurrency offerings, which may result in a disruption of our business and could have an adverse impact on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
From time to time, we may encounter technical issues in connection with changes and upgrades to the underlying networks of supported cryptocurrencies, which could adversely affect the success of RHC’s business, financial condition and results of operations.
Any number of technical changes, software upgrades, soft or hard forks, cybersecurity incidents or other changes to the underlying blockchain network may occur from time to time, causing incompatibility, technical issues, disruptions or security weaknesses to our platform. If we are unable to identify, troubleshoot and resolve any such issues successfully, we may no longer be able to support such cryptocurrency, our customers’ assets may be frozen or lost, the security of our hot or cold wallets may be compromised and our platform and technical infrastructure may be affected, all of which could adversely impact the success of RHC’s business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
Any failure to obtain, maintain, protect, defend or enforce our intellectual property rights could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our success and ability to compete depend in part upon our ability to obtain, maintain, protect, defend and enforce our intellectual property rights and technology. Unauthorized use of our intellectual property or a violation of our intellectual property rights by third parties may damage our brand and our reputation. We rely on a combination of trademark, patent, copyright, and trade secret laws in the U.S. and internationally, our terms and conditions, other contractual provisions and technological measures to protect our intellectual property rights from infringement, misappropriation or other violation to maintain our brand and competitive position. Various factors outside our control pose a threat to our intellectual property rights, as well as to our products, services and technologies.
The steps we take to protect our intellectual property rights may not be sufficient to effectively prevent third parties from infringing, misappropriating, diluting or otherwise violating our intellectual property rights or to prevent unauthorized disclosure or unauthorized use of our trade secrets or other confidential information. We make business decisions about when to seek patent protection for a particular technology and when to rely upon trade secret protection, and the approach we select may ultimately
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prove to be inadequate. There can be no assurance our intellectual property rights will be sufficient to protect against unauthorized parties offering products or services that are substantially similar to ours and compete with our business or attempting to copy aspects of our technology and use information that we consider proprietary.
In addition, to registered intellectual property rights, we rely on non-registered proprietary information and technology, such as trade secrets, confidential information and know-how. We attempt to protect our intellectual property, technology, and confidential information by requiring our employees, contractors, consultants, corporate collaborators, advisors and other third parties who develop intellectual property on our behalf to enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements, and third parties we share information with to enter into nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements. We cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party who has developed intellectual property on our behalf and each party that has or may have had access to our confidential information, know-how and trade secrets. These agreements may be insufficient or breached, or may not effectively prevent unauthorized access to or unauthorized use, disclosure, misappropriation or reverse engineering of our confidential information, intellectual property, or technology. Moreover, these agreements may not provide an adequate remedy for breaches or in the event of unauthorized use or disclosure of our confidential information or technology, or infringement of our intellectual property. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret or know-how is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, trade secrets and know-how can be difficult to protect and some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets and know-how. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third party, we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us, and our competitive position would be materially and adversely harmed.
The loss of trade secret protection could make it easier for third parties to compete with our products and services by copying functionality. Additionally, individuals not subject to invention assignment agreements may make adverse ownership claims to our current and future intellectual property, and, to the extent that our employees, independent contractors or other third parties with whom we do business use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions.
We will not be able to protect our intellectual property rights if we do not detect unauthorized use of our intellectual property rights. We also may fail to maintain or be unable to obtain adequate protections for certain of our intellectual property rights in the United States and certain non-U.S. countries, and our intellectual property rights may not receive the same degree of protection in non-U.S. countries as they would in the United States because of the differences in non-U.S. patent, trademark, copyright, and other laws concerning intellectual property and proprietary rights. Any of our intellectual property rights may be successfully challenged, opposed, diluted, misappropriated or circumvented by others or invalidated, narrowed in scope or held unenforceable through administrative process or litigation in the United States or in non-U.S. jurisdictions. Furthermore, legal standards relating to the validity, enforceability and scope of protection of intellectual property rights are uncertain and any changes in, or unexpected interpretations of, intellectual property laws may compromise our ability to enforce our trade secrets and intellectual property rights.
In order to protect our intellectual property rights, we may be required to expend significant resources to apply for, maintain, monitor and protect these rights. Litigation brought to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights could be costly, time-consuming and distracting to management and could result in the impairment or loss of portions of our intellectual property. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. Our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights may be met with defenses, counterclaims and countersuits attacking the validity and enforceability of our intellectual property rights. Accordingly, we
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may not be able to prevent third parties from infringing upon or misappropriating our intellectual property. An adverse outcome in such litigation or proceedings may therefore expose us to a loss of our competitive position, expose us to significant liabilities or require us to seek licenses that may not be available on commercially acceptable terms, if at all. Our failure to secure, protect and enforce our intellectual property rights could seriously damage our brand and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have been, and may in the future be, subject to claims that we violated certain third-party intellectual property rights, which, even where meritless, can be costly to defend and could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Our success depends, in part, on our ability to develop and commercialize our products and services without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property rights of third parties. However, we may not be aware that our products or services are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating third-party intellectual property rights and such third parties may bring claims alleging such infringement, misappropriation or violation. Additionally, companies in the technology industry own large numbers of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets and frequently enter into litigation based on allegations of infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights. As we face increasing competition and become increasingly high profile, the possibility of receiving a larger number of intellectual property claims against us grows. In addition, various “non-practicing entities,” and other intellectual property rights holders have in the past and may in the future attempt to assert intellectual property claims against us or seek to monetize the intellectual property rights they own to extract value through licensing or other settlements.
Our use of third-party software and other intellectual property rights may be subject to claims of infringement or misappropriation. The vendors who provide us with technology that we incorporate in our product offerings also could become subject to various infringement claims. We cannot guarantee that our internally developed or acquired technologies and content do not or will not infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate the intellectual property rights of others.
From time to time, our competitors or other third parties may claim, and have in the past claimed, that we are infringing upon, misappropriating or otherwise violating their intellectual property rights. We cannot predict the outcome of lawsuits and cannot ensure that the results of any such actions will not have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows or prospects. Any claims or litigation, even those without merit and regardless of the outcome, could cause us to incur significant expenses and, if successfully asserted against us, could require that we pay substantial costs or damages, obtain a license, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, pay significant ongoing royalty payments, settlements or licensing fees, satisfy indemnification obligations, prevent us from offering our products or services or using certain technologies, force us to implement expensive and time-consuming work-arounds or re-designs, distract management from our business or impose other unfavorable terms.
We expect that the occurrence of infringement claims is likely to grow as the market for financial services grows and as we introduce new and updated products and services, and the outcome of any allegation is often uncertain. Accordingly, our exposure to damages resulting from infringement claims could increase and this could further exhaust our financial and management resources. Even if intellectual property claims do not result in litigation or are resolved in our favor, these claims, and the time and resources necessary to resolve them, could divert the resources of our management and require significant expenditures. Any of the foregoing could prevent us from competing effectively and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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We may not be able to obtain, maintain, protect, defend and enforce our trademarks and trade names, or build name recognition in our markets of interest, thereby harming our competitive position.
We believe that the protection of our trademark rights is an important factor in product recognition, protecting our brand and maintaining goodwill. We may be unable to obtain trademark protection for our technologies, logos, slogans and brands, and our existing trademark registrations and applications, and any trademarks that may be used in the future, may not provide us with competitive advantages or distinguish our products and services from those of our competitors. Further, we may not timely or successfully register our trademarks.
If we do not adequately protect our rights in our trademarks from infringement and unauthorized use, any goodwill that we have developed in those trademarks could be lost or impaired, which could harm our brand and our business. We have registered, among other trademarks, the term “Robinhood” and our feature logo in the United States and certain other jurisdictions. Competitors have and may continue to adopt service names similar to ours, thereby harming our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to customer confusion. In addition, there could be potential trade name or trademark infringement claims brought by owners of other trademarks that are similar to our trademarks. Furthermore, our trademarks may be opposed, contested, circumvented or found to be unenforceable, weak or invalid, and we may not be able to prevent third parties from infringing or otherwise violating them or using similar marks in a manner that causes confusion or dilutes the value or strength of our brand. Litigation or proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or other governmental authorities and administrative bodies in the United States and abroad may be necessary in the future to enforce our trademark rights and to determine the validity and scope of the trademark rights of others. Our efforts to obtain, maintain, protect, defend and enforce our trademarks may be ineffective and could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We may be unable to continue to use the domain names that we use in our business or prevent third parties from acquiring and using domain names that infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate, are similar to, or otherwise decrease the value of our brand, trademarks, or service marks.
We have registered domain names that we use in, or are related to, our business, most importantly www.robinhood.com and www.robinhood.net. If we lose the ability to use a domain name, whether due to trademark claims, failure to renew the applicable registration, or any other cause, we may be forced to market our offerings under a new domain name, which could cause us substantial harm or cause us to incur significant expense in order to purchase rights to the domain name in question. We may not be able to obtain preferred domain names outside the United States due to a variety of reasons. In addition, our competitors and other third parties could attempt to capitalize on our brand recognition by using domain names similar to ours. We may be unable to prevent our competitors and other third parties from acquiring and using domain names that infringe, misappropriate, or otherwise violate, are similar to, or otherwise decrease the value of our brand or our trademarks or service marks. Obtaining, maintaining, protecting, defending and enforcing our rights in our domain names may require litigation, which could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources, which could in turn adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Some of our products and services contain open source software, which may pose particular risks to our proprietary software, products and services in a manner that could harm our business.
We use open source software in our products and services and anticipate using open source software in the future. Some open source software licenses require those who distribute open source software as part of their own software product to publicly disclose all or part of the source code to such software product or to make available any derivative works of the open source code on unfavorable terms or at no cost, and we may be subject to such terms. The terms of many open source licenses to which we are subject have not been interpreted by U.S. or foreign courts, and there is a risk that open source
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software licenses could be construed in a manner that imposes unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to provide or distribute our products or services. We could face claims from third parties claiming ownership of, or demanding release of, the open source software or derivative works that we developed using such software, which could include our proprietary source code, or otherwise seeking to enforce the terms of the applicable open source license. These claims could result in litigation and could require us to make our software source code freely available, purchase a costly license or cease offering the implicated products or services unless and until we can re-engineer them to avoid infringement, which may be a costly and time-consuming process. While we monitor our use of open source software and try to ensure that none is used in a manner that would require us to disclose our proprietary source code or that would otherwise breach the terms of an open source agreement, such use could inadvertently occur, or could be claimed to have occurred, in part because open source license terms are often ambiguous. Any actual or claimed requirement to disclose our proprietary source code or pay damages for breach of contract could harm our business and could help third parties, including our competitors, develop products and services that are similar to or better than ours.
Additionally, the use of certain open source software can lead to greater risks than use of third-party commercial software, as open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or controls on the origin of software. There is typically no support available for open source software, and we cannot ensure that the authors of such open source software will implement or push updates to address security risks or will not abandon further development and maintenance. Many of the risks associated with the use of open source software, such as the lack of warranties or assurances of title or performance, cannot be eliminated, and could, if not properly addressed, negatively affect our business. Any of these risks could be difficult to eliminate or manage and, if not addressed, could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be unable to halt the operations of third-party websites that aggregate or misappropriate our data.
Third parties may misappropriate our data through website scraping, robots, or other means and aggregate this data on their websites with data from other companies. In addition, copycat websites may misappropriate data from our platform and attempt to imitate our brand or the functionality of our website. If we become aware of such websites, we intend to employ technological or legal measures in an attempt to halt their operations. However, we may be unable to detect all such websites in a timely manner and, even if we are successful in detecting such websites, technological and legal measures may be insufficient to halt their operations. In some cases, particularly in the case of websites operating outside of the U.S., our available remedies may not be adequate to protect us against the effect of the operation of such websites. Regardless of whether we can successfully enforce our rights against the operators of these websites, any measures that we may take could require us to expend significant financial or other resources, which could harm our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows, and prospects. In addition, to the extent that such activity creates confusion among customers, our brand and business could be harmed.
If we fail to comply with our obligations under license or technology agreements with third parties or are unable to license rights to use technologies on reasonable terms, we may be required to pay damages and could potentially lose license rights that are critical to our business.
We license certain intellectual property, including technologies, data, content and software from third parties, that is important to our business, and in the future we may enter into additional agreements that provide us with licenses to valuable intellectual property or technology. If we fail to comply with any of the obligations under our license agreements, we may be required to pay damages and the licensor may have the right to terminate the license. Termination by the licensor would cause us to lose valuable rights, and could prevent us from selling our products and services, or inhibit our ability to commercialize future products and services. Our business would suffer if any current or future licenses terminate, if the licensors fail to abide by the terms of the license, if the licensed intellectual property rights are found to be invalid or unenforceable, or if we are unable to enter into necessary licenses on acceptable terms.
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Moreover, our licensors may own or control intellectual property that has not been licensed to us and, as a result, we may be subject to claims, regardless of their merit, that we are infringing or otherwise violating the licensor’s rights.
In the future, we may identify additional third-party intellectual property we may need to license in order to engage in our business. However, such licenses may not be available on acceptable terms or at all. The licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and several more-established companies may pursue strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive or necessary. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. Even if such licenses are available, we may be required to pay the licensor substantial royalties based on sales of our products and services. Such royalties are a component of the cost of our products or services and may affect the margins on our products and services. In addition, such licenses may be non-exclusive, which could give our competitors access to the same intellectual property licensed to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Finance, Accounting and Tax Matters
Our failure to properly handle cash, securities and cryptocurrencies held on behalf of customers could harm our business and reputation.
Our ability to hold, handle and account accurately for the cash, securities and cryptocurrencies in our customers’ accounts requires a high level of internal controls, and our success requires significant customer confidence in our ability to do so. As our business continues to grow and we expand our products and services, we must continue to strengthen our associated internal controls. Any failure to maintain the necessary controls or to manage our customers’ funds and securities accurately could result in reputational harm, lead customers to discontinue or reduce their use of our products and services and result in regulatory actions, including significant penalties and fines, which could harm our business.
Covenants in our credit agreements may restrict our operations and if we do not effectively manage our business to comply with these covenants, our financial condition could be adversely impacted.
We have entered into two credit agreements and may enter into additional agreements for other borrowing in the future. These agreements contain various restrictive covenants, including, among other things, minimum liquidity and revenue requirements, restrictions on our ability to dispose of assets, make acquisitions or investments, incur debt or liens, make distributions to our stockholders or enter into certain types of related person transactions. These agreements also contain financial covenants, including obligations to maintain certain capitalization amounts and other financial ratios. These restrictions may restrict our current and future operations, particularly our ability to respond to certain changes in our business or industry or take future actions, including our ability to incur debt to increase our liquidity position.
Our ability to meet these restrictive covenants can be impacted by events beyond our control and we may be unable to do so. The credit agreements provide that our breach or failure to satisfy certain covenants constitutes an event of default. Upon the occurrence of an event of default, our lenders could elect to declare all amounts outstanding under our debt agreements to be immediately due and payable. In addition, our lenders may have the right to proceed against the assets we provided as collateral pursuant to the agreements. If the debt under the credit agreements were to be accelerated, and if we did not have sufficient cash on hand or be able to sell sufficient collateral to repay it, it would have an immediate adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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Our insurance coverage may be inadequate or expensive.
We are subject to claims in the ordinary course of business. These claims may involve substantial amounts of money and involve significant defense costs. It is not possible to prevent or detect all activities giving rise to claims and the precautions we take may not be effective in all cases. We maintain voluntary and required insurance coverage, including, among others, general liability, property, director and officer, excess-SIPC, business interruption, cyber and data breach, errors and omissions, crime and fidelity bond insurance. Our insurance coverage is expensive and maintaining or expanding our insurance coverage may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
Our insurance coverage may be insufficient to protect us against all losses and costs stemming from operational and technological failures and we cannot be certain that such insurance will continue to be available to us on economically reasonable terms, or at all, or that any insurer will not deny coverage as to any future claim. For example, we offer a guarantee to our customers to fully reimburse direct losses that occur due to unauthorized activity that is not the fault of the customer, and any such losses we incur in satisfaction of this guarantee may not be fully or partially covered by insurance. The successful assertion of one or more large claims against us that exceed available insurance coverage, or the occurrence of changes in our insurance policies, including premium increases or the imposition of large deductible or co-insurance requirements, could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changes in U.S. tax laws and policies could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to complex and evolving U.S. tax laws and regulations, which may in the future make changes to corporate income tax rates, the treatment of foreign earnings or other income tax laws that could affect our future income tax provision and reduce our earnings while increasing the complexity, burden and cost of tax compliance.
Our determination of our tax liability is subject to review by applicable tax authorities. Any adverse outcome of such a review could harm our results of operations and financial condition. The determination of our tax liabilities requires significant judgment and, in the ordinary course of business, there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is complex and uncertain. In addition, our future effective tax rates could be favorably or unfavorably affected by changes in tax rates, changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets or liabilities, the effectiveness of our tax planning strategies or changes in tax laws or their interpretation. Such changes could have an adverse effect on our financial condition.
Although we believe our estimates are reasonable, as a result of these and other factors, the ultimate amount of our tax obligations owed may differ from the amounts recorded in our consolidated financial statements and any such difference may harm our results of operations in future periods in which we change our estimates of our tax obligations or in which the ultimate tax outcome is determined.
In addition, certain members of the U.S. Congress and individual state legislatures have proposed the imposition of new taxes on a broad range of financial transactions, including transactions that occur on our platform, such as the buying and selling of stocks and derivative transactions. If enacted, such proposed financial transaction taxes could increase the cost to customers of investing or trading on our platform and reduce or adversely affect U.S. market conditions and liquidity, our customers’ investment performance, general levels of interest in investing and the volume of trades and other transactions from which we derive transaction revenues, as well as on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See “Risks Related to our Business—Proposed legislation that would impose taxes on certain financial transactions could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
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Our ability to use our net operating losses to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.
During 2020, we utilized substantially all of our U.S. federal and state net operating loss ("NOL") carryforwards, excluding California due to the recently enacted Assembly Bill No. 85 (as further described in Note 6 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus). As a result, as of December 31, 2020, we had U.S. state NOL carryforwards of $32.3 million that will begin to expire in 2034 if not utilized, and non-U.S. NOL carryforwards of $4.7 million that do not expire. Under Sections 382 and 383 of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” (as defined by the Code) may be subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change NOLs and other tax attributes such as research tax credits to offset future taxable income. If it is determined that we have in the past experienced an ownership change, or if we undergo one or more ownership changes as a result of future transactions in our stock, then our ability to utilize NOLs and other pre-change tax attributes could be limited by Sections 382 and 383 of the Code, and similar state provisions. Future changes in our stock ownership, many of which are outside of our control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 or 383 of the Code. Furthermore, our ability to utilize NOLs of companies that we may acquire in the future may be subject to limitations. For these reasons, we may not be able to utilize our NOLs, even if we maintain profitability.
A large number of RSUs will vest in connection with this offering, and we may expend substantial funds in connection with the tax withholding and remittance obligations related to the settlement of RSUs and/or the exercise of outstanding stock options depending on the manner in which we fund these liabilities, which may have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Up to          shares of our common stock will be issuable after this offering upon the settlement of IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs (based on the number of IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs for which the time-based vesting condition was satisfied as of December 31, 2020), up to          shares of our common stock will be issuable after this offering upon the settlement of Market-Based RSUs (assuming the effectiveness of this offering on December 31, 2020 for purposes of any applicable time-based vesting conditions and, for purposes of determining the satisfaction of the market-based vesting condition, an initial public offering price of our common stock of $       per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus), and up to          shares of our common stock will be issuable after this offering upon the exercise of outstanding vested stock options (based on vested stock options outstanding as of December 31, 2020). On the settlement dates for the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs and Market-Based RSUs granted prior to the date of this prospectus and upon exercise of stock options, holders may be allowed to sell a portion of the resulting shares of our common stock in the public market to satisfy the resulting tax withholding and remittance obligations related to the settlement or exercise of awards, which we refer to as “selling to cover,” or we may withhold shares and remit tax liabilities to the relevant tax authorities on behalf of the holders, which we refer to as a “net settlement.” We would withhold for tax obligations at the applicable statutory rates and currently expect that the average of these withholding rates will be approximately       % and the income taxes due would be based on the then-current value of the underlying shares of our common stock and the taxable amounts resulting from the exercise of stock options.
IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs vest upon the satisfaction of both a time-based vesting condition and a liquidity-based vesting condition. The time-based vesting condition for a majority of such RSUs is satisfied over a period of four years. The liquidity-based vesting condition of such RSUs will be satisfied upon the completion of this offering. We are obligated to settle the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs either immediately following the completion of this offering or within six months following the completion of this offering. Based on the number of IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs for which the time-based vesting condition was satisfied as of December 31, 2020, and assuming (i) the satisfaction of the liquidity-based vesting condition on that date and (ii) that the price of our common stock at the time of settlement was equal to $          per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the
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cover page of this prospectus, we estimate that the tax withholding and remittance obligations would be approximately $          in the aggregate. The amount of these obligations could be higher or lower, depending on the price of shares of our common stock and the actual numbers of IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs on the applicable settlement date. Assuming an approximate       % tax withholding rate, we may undertake a net settlement of the awards by delivering an aggregate of approximately          shares of common stock to IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU holders and withholding an aggregate of approximately          shares of common stock, based on the number of IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs outstanding as of December 31, 2020. If IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU holders are allowed to “sell to cover” to satisfy their tax withholding and remittance obligations rather than undertaking a net settlement of the awards, an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock would be sold in the public market and an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock would be delivered to the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU holders.
Market-Based RSUs vest upon the satisfaction of both a time-based vesting condition and a market-based vesting condition. The time-based vesting condition that is applicable to a portion of the outstanding Market-Based RSUs is satisfied over a period of six years. The market-based vesting condition that is applicable to all Market-Based RSUs is based on our initial public offering price. Based on the number of Market-Based RSUs, assuming the effectiveness of this offering on December 31, 2020 for purposes of any applicable time-based vesting conditions and, for purposes of determining the satisfaction of the market-based vesting condition, an initial public offering price of our common stock of $           per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, we estimate that the tax withholding and remittance obligations would be approximately $          in the aggregate. The amount of these obligations could be higher or lower, depending on the initial public offering price. Assuming an approximate          % tax withholding rate, we may undertake a net settlement of the awards by delivering an aggregate of approximately          shares of common stock to Market-Based RSU holders (which consist of our Co-Founder, CEO and director, Mr. Tenev, and our Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer and director, Mr. Bhatt) and withholding an aggregate of approximately          shares of common stock. If Market-Based RSU holders are allowed to “sell to cover” to satisfy their tax withholding and remittance obligations rather than undertaking a net settlement of the awards, an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock would be sold in the public market and an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock would be delivered to the Market-Based RSU holders.
We cannot predict when holders will exercise their stock options. However, if all stock options vested as of          December 31, 2020 were exercised and the price of our common stock at the time of exercise were equal to $          per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, we estimate that the aggregate resulting tax withholding and remittance obligations would be approximately $          . If holders are allowed to sell shares of our common stock in the public market to satisfy these tax withholding and remittance obligations, an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock would be sold in the public market and an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock would be delivered to option holders. If we choose to undertake a net settlement of these options to satisfy these tax withholding obligations, we would expect to deliver an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock to option holders and withholding an aggregate of approximately          shares of our common stock.
Given the large number of IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs that will be settled either immediately following this offering or within six months following this offering, the number of Market-Based RSUs that could settle either immediately following this offering or within six months following this offering and the number of outstanding stock options, if we choose to net settle all or a portion of these awards we may expend substantial funds to satisfy the related tax withholding and remittance obligations the year in which this offering is completed. To fund those tax withholding and remittance obligations, we may choose to borrow funds under our revolving credit facility, use a substantial portion of our existing cash, including funds raised in this offering, or rely on a combination of these alternatives. In the event that we elect to satisfy our tax withholding and remittance obligations in whole or in part by drawing on our
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revolving credit facility, our interest expense and principal repayment requirements could increase significantly, which could have an adverse effect on our financial results.
Sales of a large number of shares of our common stock if holders “sell to cover” upon the settlement of RSUs and/or exercise of stock options may impact the market price of our common stock. See “—Risks Related to Our Common Stock and this Offering—Substantial future sales of shares of our common stock in the public market could cause the trading price of our common stock to fall.”
We track certain operational metrics, which are subject to inherent challenges in measurement, and real or perceived inaccuracies in such metrics may harm our reputation and materially adversely affect our stock price, business, results of operations, and financial condition.
We track certain operational metrics using internal company data gathered on an analytics platform that we developed and operate, including metrics such as MAU, AUC and Net Cumulative Funded Accounts, as well as cohorts of our customers, which have not been validated by an independent third party and which may differ from estimates or similar metrics published by third parties due to differences in sources, methodologies or the assumptions on which we rely. Our internal systems and tools are subject to a number of limitations and our methodologies for tracking these metrics have changed in the past and may change further over time, which could result in unexpected changes to our metrics or otherwise cause the comparability of such metrics from period to period to suffer, including the metrics we publicly disclose. For example, prior to our becoming self-clearing in November 2018, we relied on a third-party provider for our clearing operations, and used data collected by that third-party to compute certain metrics, such as Net Cumulative Funded Accounts, that, since November 2018, we have calculated based on data sourced and processed internally. In addition, if the internal systems and tools we use to track these metrics undercount or overcount performance or contain algorithmic or other technical errors, the data we report may not be accurate. While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our metrics for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring how our platform is used across large populations globally. You should not place undue reliance on such operational metrics when evaluating an investment in our common stock. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Performance Metrics” for definitions of our key operational metrics.
If our operational metrics are not accurate representations of our business, or if investors do not perceive these metrics to be accurate, or if we discover material inaccuracies with respect to these figures, our reputation may be significantly harmed, the trading price of our common stock could decline and we may be subject to stockholder litigation, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are exposed to fluctuations in interest rates.
Fluctuations in interest rates may adversely impact our customers’ general spending levels and ability and willingness to invest through our platform. Additionally, some of our products, such as our Cash Management product and margin lending programs, are affected by interest rate changes. Higher interest rates often lead to higher payment obligations by our customers to us and to their creditors under mortgage, credit card, and other consumer and merchant loans, which may reduce our customers’ ability to satisfy their obligations to us, including failing to pay for securities purchased, deliver securities sold or meet margin calls, and therefore lead to increased delinquencies, charge-offs, and allowances for loan and interest receivables, which could have an adverse effect on our net income. See “Risks Related to Our Brokerage Products and Services—Our exposure to credit risk with customers and counterparties could result in losses” above. Fluctuations in interest rates may also adversely impact our Cash Management customers’ returns on their cash deposits. We are also exposed to interest rate risk from our investment portfolio and from interest-rate sensitive assets, including assets underlying the customer balances we hold on our balance sheet as customer accounts. A low or negative interest rate environment or reductions in interest rates may negatively impact our net income.
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Risks Related to Our Common Stock and this Offering
An active trading market for our common stock may not develop or be sustained following this offering.
Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for shares of our common stock. We cannot predict the extent to which investor interest in us will lead to the development of a trading market on the Nasdaq or otherwise or how liquid that market might become. If an active market does not develop, you may have difficulty selling any shares of our common stock that you purchase in this offering. The initial public offering price for the shares of our common stock has been determined by negotiations between us and the representatives of the underwriters, and may not be indicative of prices that will prevail in the open market following this offering. An inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock and may impair our ability to acquire or make investments in companies, products or technologies for which we may issue equity securities to pay for such acquisition or investment.
The trading price for our common stock may be volatile and you could lose all or part of your investment.
The initial public offering price of our common stock was determined through negotiation between the underwriters and us. This price does not necessarily reflect the price at which investors in the market will be willing to buy and sell shares of our common stock following this offering. In addition, the trading price of our common stock may be highly volatile and could be subject to fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. These fluctuations could cause you to lose all or part of your investment in our common stock since you may be unable to sell your shares at or above the price you paid in this offering. Some specific factors that may have a significant effect on the trading price of our common stock include:
price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market from time to time, including as a result of trends in the economy as a whole, such as the effect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our results of operations or those of our competitors;
actual or anticipated changes in the growth rate of the market in which we operate or the growth rate of our businesses or those of companies that investors deem comparable to us;
sales of shares of our common stock by us or our stockholders;
actions by institutional stockholders;
changes in economic or business conditions;
changes in governmental or other relevant regulation;
changes in accounting standards, policies, guidelines, interpretations or principles;
any ineffectiveness of our internal controls;
publication of research reports about us, our competitors, or our industry, or changes in, or failure to meet, estimates made by securities analysts or ratings agencies of our financial and operating performance, or lack of research reports by industry analysts or ceasing of analyst coverage;
announcements by us or our competitors of new offerings or platform features;
the public’s perception of the quality and accuracy of our key metrics on our customer base and engagement;
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the public’s reaction to our media statements, other public announcements and filings with the SEC;
rumors and market speculation involving us or other companies in our industry;
harm to our brand and reputation;
litigation involving us, our industry or both, or investigations by regulators into our operations or those of our competitors;
developments or disputes concerning our intellectual property or other proprietary rights;
any significant change in our management;
the extent to which retail and other individual investors (as distinguished from institutional investors), including our customers, invest in our common stock, which may result in increased volatility; and
other events or factors, many of which are beyond our control.
In addition, in the past, following periods of volatility in the overall market and the trading price of a particular company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against these companies. This litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our management’s attention and resources.
Further, high levels of initial interest in our stock at the time of this offering may result in an unsustainable trading price, in which case the price of our common stock may decline over time. In addition, if the public price of our common stock is above the level that investors determine is reasonable for our common stock, some investors may attempt to short our common stock after trading begins, which would create additional downward pressure on the trading price of our common stock.
We will be required to issue additional shares of common stock upon the automatic conversion of our convertible notes upon the completion of this offering, as well as upon the exercise of our outstanding warrants and options. These and other additional issuances of our capital stock could result in significant dilution to our stockholders.
Future issuances of shares of our common stock could depress the market price of our common stock and result in a significant dilution for holders of our capital stock. We have authorized more capital stock in recent years to provide additional stock options to our employees and to permit for the consummation of equity and equity-linked financings and may continue to do so in the future.
Further, in February 2021, we issued two tranches of convertible notes, consisting of $2,532.0 million aggregate principal amount of “Tranche I” convertible notes and $1,020.0 million aggregate principal amount of “Tranche II” convertible notes. Unless earlier converted, upon the closing of this offering, the convertible notes will automatically convert into shares of our common stock at a conversion price equal to the lower of (i) 70% of the cash price per share paid by investors in this offering and (ii) $38.29 (in the case of the Tranche I convertible notes) or $42.12 (in the case of the Tranche II convertible notes). Assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $           per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, if all the convertible notes remain outstanding at the time of the offering, they will automatically convert into       shares of common stock upon the closing of this offering, resulting in immediate dilution to our stockholders.
In addition, we granted to each purchaser of the Tranche I convertible notes a warrant to purchase a number of shares of equity securities equal to 15% of the aggregate proceeds invested by such purchaser in the Tranche I convertible notes (i.e., $379.8 million in aggregate maximum purchase amount). Following this offering and until the tenth anniversary of their issue date, outstanding warrants
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will be exercisable for shares of our common stock at an exercise price equal to the lower of (i) 70% of the cash price per share paid by investors in this offering and (ii) $38.29. Assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $           per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, the warrants will be exercisable for an aggregate of     shares of common stock, and such exercises would result in additional dilution. For more information about the convertible notes and warrants, see “Certain Relationships and Related Person Transactions—Convertible Note and Warrant Financings.”
Moreover, as of December 31, 2020, options to purchase 21,543,828 shares of our common stock with a weighted-average exercise price of approximately $2.19 per share were outstanding, as well as 75,375,307 shares of our common stock subject to RSUs. The exercise of any of these options and settlement of any of these RSUs would result in additional dilution. To the extent that we issue shares of our capital stock to acquire other companies or outstanding options and warrants to purchase capital stock are exercised, there will be further dilution. Our employee headcount has increased significantly in the past few years and we expect this rapid growth to continue. We rely on equity-based compensation as an important tool in recruiting and retaining employees. The amount of dilution due to equity-based compensation of our employees or other additional issuances could be substantial depending upon the size of the issuances and exercises.
Substantial future sales of shares of our common stock in the public market could cause the trading price of our common stock to fall.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales might occur, could significantly reduce the trading price of our common stock. If our existing stockholders sell, or indicate an intention to sell, substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market after the lock-up and legal restrictions on resale discussed in this prospectus lapse, the trading price of our common stock could substantially decline. Furthermore, approximately     % of our outstanding common stock is beneficially owned by our executive officers and directors. If one or more of them were to sell a substantial portion of the shares they hold, it could cause the trading price of our common stock to decline.
Based on shares outstanding as of  December 31, 2020, at the completion of this offering (after giving effect to the Assumed Share Events described under “The Offering”), we will have outstanding a total of          shares of common stock. This includes the          shares of common stock that we are selling in this offering, which may be resold in the public market immediately. Of the remaining shares,          shares of our common stock, which together represent     % of our outstanding shares after this offering, are currently, and will be following the completion of this offering, restricted as a result of securities laws or lock-up agreements. We, and all of our directors, executive officers, the selling stockholders and certain other record holders that together represent approximately     % of our outstanding common stock and securities directly or indirectly convertible into or exchangeable or exercisable for our common stock have entered into lock-up agreements with the underwriters under which the holders of such securities have agreed that, subject to certain exceptions, without the prior written consent of Goldman Sachs & Co LLC, as representative of the underwriters, during the -day period beginning on the date of this prospectus, we and they will not (i) lend, offer, pledge, sell, contract to sell, sell any option or contract to purchase, purchase any option or contract to sell, grant any option, right, or warrant to purchase, or otherwise transfer or dispose of (directly or indirectly) any shares of our common stock or any securities convertible into or exercisable or exchangeable (directly or indirectly) for our common stock, (ii) engage in any hedging or other transaction or arrangement (including, without limitation, any short sale or the purchase or sale of, or entry into, any put or call option, or combination thereof, forward, swap or any other derivative transaction or instrument, however described or defined) which is designed to effect a sale or disposition, or transfer of any of the economic consequences of ownership, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, of any shares of our common stock or any securities convertible into or exercisable or exchangeable (directly or indirectly) for our common stock, whether any such transaction described in clause (i) or (ii) above is to be settled by delivery of our common stock or other securities, in cash, or
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otherwise or (iii) publicly disclose the intention to take any of the actions restricted by clause (i) or (ii) above. In addition, holders of the shares of our common stock to be issued upon the conversion of our Tranche I convertible notes in this offering have agreed that, during the 30-day period beginning on the date of this prospectus, such holders will not take any of the actions described in the foregoing clauses (i)-(iii) with respect to 50% of such shares (it being understood that the remaining 50% of such shares shall not be subject to any such lock-up agreement). Upon each release of the foregoing restrictions, our securityholders subject to a lock-up agreement will be able to sell our shares in the public market. In addition, Goldman Sachs & Co LLC may, in its sole discretion as representative of the underwriters, release all or some portion of the shares subject to lock-up agreements prior to a release of the foregoing restrictions. For a description of the lock-up agreements, see the “Shares Eligible for Future Sale” and “Underwriting” sections of this prospectus.
In addition, as of December 31, 2020, there were 21,543,828 shares of common stock subject to outstanding options, 237,686 restricted shares of common stock, an additional 75,375,307 shares subject to outstanding RSUs and an additional 14,022,717 shares of common stock reserved for issuance under our equity incentive plans that will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules, the lock-up agreements discussed above and Rules 144 and 701 under the Securities Act. Moreover, we intend to register all shares of common stock that we may in the future issue under our employee benefit plans. Once we register these shares, they can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to the lock-up agreements and the restrictions imposed on our affiliates under Rule 144. Any sales of our common stock as lock-up restrictions end, as stock options are exercised or as RSUs are settled may make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate. These sales could also cause the trading price of our common stock to fall and make it more difficult for you to sell shares of our common stock.
You will experience immediate and substantial dilution in the book value of the shares you purchase in this offering, and you will suffer additional dilution if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares.
The initial public offering price is substantially higher than the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our outstanding common stock of $          per share as of December 31, 2020. Investors purchasing shares of our common stock in this offering will pay a price per share that substantially exceeds the book value of our tangible assets after subtracting our liabilities. As a result, investors purchasing common stock in this offering will incur immediate and substantial dilution of $          per share, representing the difference between the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $          per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after giving effect to our sale of shares in this offering. See the section titled “Dilution” for additional information.
We do not intend to pay dividends in the foreseeable future.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. The declaration and amount of any future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors in accordance with applicable law and after taking into account various factors, including our financial condition, results of operations, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects and other factors that our board of directors currently deems relevant. Our board of directors intends to retain future earnings to fund the development and expansion of our business. Additionally, certain of our existing credit agreements include restrictions on our ability to pay cash dividends. Accordingly, we do not expect to pay dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, of our common stock will be your sole source of gain for the foreseeable future.
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We have broad discretion in the use of the net proceeds from this offering and our use of those proceeds may not yield a favorable return on your investment.
We cannot specify with any certainty the particular uses of the net proceeds that we will receive from this offering. Our management will have broad discretion in the application of the net proceeds from this offering, including for any of the purposes described in “Use of Proceeds,” and you will not have the opportunity as part of your investment decision to assess whether the net proceeds are being used appropriately. We have not established a timetable for the effective deployment of the proceeds and we cannot predict how long it will take to deploy the proceeds. We expect to use our net proceeds from this offering for working capital, capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. See “Use of Proceeds.” The failure by our management to apply these proceeds effectively or in a manner that increases our fair value or enhances our profitability could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition and may negatively impact the trading price of our common stock.
Concentration of ownership of our common stock among our existing executive officers, directors and principal stockholders may prevent new investors from influencing significant corporate decisions, including mergers, consolidations, or the sale of us or all or substantially all of our assets.
Upon the completion of this offering, our executive officers, directors and current beneficial owners of 5% or more of our common stock will in the aggregate, beneficially own approximately     % of our outstanding shares of common stock, assuming no exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares. These persons, acting together, will be able to significantly influence all matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors and the approval of significant corporate transactions, such as mergers, consolidations or the sale of our company or all or substantially all of our assets. This concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control, including a merger, consolidation, or other business combination involving our company, or discouraging a potential acquirer from otherwise attempting to obtain control, even if that change of control would benefit our other stockholders. They may also have interests that differ from yours and may vote in a way with which you disagree and which may be adverse to your interests.
Certain provisions in our Charter and our Bylaws and of Delaware law as well as certain FINRA rules may prevent or delay an acquisition of Robinhood, which could decrease the trading price of our common stock.
Our Charter and our Bylaws will contain, and Delaware law contains, provisions that may have the effect of deterring takeovers by making such takeovers more expensive to the bidder and by encouraging prospective acquirers to negotiate with our board of directors rather than to attempt a hostile takeover. Our Charter and our Bylaws include, among others, the following provisions:
providing that only our board of directors may fill any vacancies created by the expansion of our board of directors or the resignation, death or removal of a director;
prohibiting cumulative voting in the election of directors;
providing that our board of directors may adopt, amend, alter or repeal our Bylaws without obtaining stockholder approval;
requiring approval of at least a majority of the voting power of the then-outstanding shares of capital stock to adopt, amend, alter or repeal certain provisions in our Charter and to amend our Bylaws;
not requiring stockholder approval for future issuances of the authorized but unissued shares of our common stock;
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permitting our board of directors to authorize the issuances of shares of preferred stock and to determine the price and other terms of those shares, including voting or other rights and preferences, without obtaining stockholder approval;
only permitting the chair of our board of directors, the lead independent director, if any, and our board of directors pursuant to a resolution adopted by a majority of the total number of directors that we would have if all vacancies or unfilled directorships were filled to convene a special meeting of our stockholders;
requiring stockholders to comply with advance notice procedures in order to nominate candidates for election as directors or to bring matters before an annual meeting of stockholders; and
only permitting the stockholders to take action at a meeting of our stockholders and not by written consent.
As a Delaware corporation, we are also subject to provisions of Delaware law, including Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporate Law (“DGCL”), which prohibits us from engaging in a business combination, including a merger, with a person who owns 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock (an “interested stockholder”) for a period of three years after the date of the transaction in which such person became an interested stockholder, unless (with certain exceptions) the business combination is approved in a prescribed manner.
We believe these provisions will protect our stockholders from coercive or otherwise unfair takeover tactics by requiring potential acquirers to negotiate with our board of directors and by providing our board of directors with more time to assess any acquisition proposal. These provisions are not intended to make Robinhood immune from takeovers. However, these provisions will apply even if the offer may be considered beneficial by some stockholders and could delay or prevent an acquisition that our board of directors determines is not in the best interests of Robinhood and our stockholders. Accordingly, if our board of directors determines that a potential acquisition is not in the best interests of Robinhood and our stockholders, but certain stockholders believe that such a transaction would be beneficial to Robinhood and our stockholders, such stockholders may elect to sell their shares in Robinhood and the trading price of our common stock could decrease. In addition, a third party attempting to acquire us or a substantial position in our common stock may be delayed or ultimately prevented from doing so by change in ownership or control regulations to which certain of our regulated subsidiaries are subject. Specifically, FINRA Rule 1017 generally provides that FINRA approval must be obtained in connection with any transaction resulting in a single person or entity owning, directly or indirectly, 25% or more of a FINRA member firm’s equity and would include a change in control of a parent company. These and other provisions of our Charter, our Bylaws and the DGCL could have the effect of delaying or deterring a change in control, which may limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their shares of our common stock and may also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our common stock.
Our Charter will designate a state or federal court located within the State of Delaware as the exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, and the federal district courts of the United States as the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action under the Securities Act, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to choose the judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.
Our Charter, which will become effective immediately prior to the completion of this offering, will provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action or proceeding asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action or proceeding arising pursuant to, or seeking to enforce any right, obligation or remedy under, any provision of the DGCL, our Charter or our Bylaws, (iv) any action or proceeding seeking to interpret, apply, enforce or determine the
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validity of our Charter or our Bylaws, (v) any action or proceeding asserting a claim that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine or (vi) any action or proceeding as to which the DGCL confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware shall be the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if the Court of Chancery does not have subject matter jurisdiction, another state court sitting in the State of Delaware (or, if no state court located within the State of Delaware has jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware), in all cases subject to the court having jurisdiction over indispensable parties named as defendants. Our Charter will also provide that the federal district courts of the United States will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action under the Securities Act. Nothing in our Charter precludes stockholders that assert claims under the Exchange Act from bringing such claims in any court, subject to applicable law.
Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring or holding any interest in any of our securities shall be deemed to have notice of and consented to these provisions. These exclusive forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum of its choosing for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and other employees. The enforceability of similar choice of forum provisions in other companies’ charter documents has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that a court could find these types of provisions to be inapplicable or unenforceable. For example, in December 2018, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware determined that a provision stating that federal district courts of the United States are the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act is not enforceable. Although this decision was reversed by the Delaware Supreme Court in March 2020, courts in other states may still find these provisions to be inapplicable or unenforceable. If a court were to find the exclusive forum provisions in our Charter to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
General Risk Factors
The obligations associated with being a public company may strain our resources, result in more litigation and divert management’s attention from operating our business.
As a public company, we will be subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”), the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of the Nasdaq, and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Complying with these rules and regulations will increase our legal, accounting and financial compliance costs, make some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly, and increase demand on our personnel, systems and resources. The need to establish the corporate infrastructure demanded of a public company may divert management’s attention from implementing our growth strategy, which could prevent us from successfully implementing our strategic initiatives and improving our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. Although we have already hired additional employees to assist us in complying with these requirements, we may need to hire more employees to assist us in complying with these requirements. Additionally, we expect these rules and regulations to make it expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to maintain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve on our board of directors or as our executive officers.
In addition, changing laws, regulations and standards relating to corporate governance and public disclosure are creating uncertainty for public companies, increasing legal and financial compliance costs, and making some activities more time-consuming. These laws, regulations and standards are subject to varying interpretations, in many cases due to their lack of specificity, and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and governing bodies. This could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and higher costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to disclosure and governance practices. We intend to invest substantial resources to
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comply with evolving laws, regulations and standards, and this investment may result in increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management’s time and attention from business operations to compliance activities. If our efforts to comply with new laws, regulations and standards differ from the activities intended by regulatory or governing bodies due to ambiguities related to their application and practice, regulatory authorities may initiate legal proceedings against us and our business may be harmed.
Furthermore, as a result of disclosure of information in this prospectus and in filings required of a public company, our business and financial condition will become more visible. Such increased disclosure and visibility could result in adverse changes to our reputation and to the way our customers perceive our brand and overall value, as well as shareholder activism or threatened or actual litigation, including by competitors and other third parties. If such claims are successful, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be harmed, and even if the claims do not result in litigation or are resolved in our favor, these claims, and the time and resources necessary to resolve them, could divert the resources of our management and could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If we fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, as well as required disclosure controls and procedures, our ability to produce timely and accurate consolidated financial statements or comply with applicable regulations could be impaired.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. We are continuing to develop and refine our disclosure controls and other procedures that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by us in the reports that we will file with the SEC is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in SEC rules and forms and that information required to be disclosed in reports under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to our principal executive and financial officers. We are also continuing to develop and refine our internal control over financial reporting. Some members of our management team have limited or no experience managing a publicly traded company, interacting with public company investors, and complying with the increasingly complex laws pertaining to public companies, and we have limited accounting and financial reporting personnel and other resources with which to address our internal controls and related procedures. In order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, we have expended, and anticipate that we will continue to expend, significant resources, including accounting-related costs and significant management oversight.
Our current controls and any new controls that we develop may become inadequate because of changes in conditions in our business. In addition, changes in accounting principles or interpretations could also challenge our internal controls and require that we establish new business processes, systems and controls to accommodate such changes. We have limited experience with implementing the systems and controls that will be necessary to operate as a public company, as well as adopting changes in accounting principles or interpretations mandated by the relevant regulatory bodies. Additionally, if these new systems, controls or standards and the associated process changes do not give rise to the benefits that we expect or do not operate as intended, it could adversely affect our financial reporting systems and processes, our ability to produce timely and accurate financial reports or the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. Moreover, our business may be harmed if we experience problems with any new systems and controls that result in delays in their implementation or increased costs to correct any post-implementation issues that may arise.
Further, weaknesses in our disclosure controls and internal control over financial reporting may be discovered in the future. Any failure to develop or maintain effective controls or any difficulties encountered in their implementation or improvement could harm our business or cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations and may result in a restatement of our consolidated financial statements for prior periods. Any failure to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could also adversely affect the results of periodic management evaluations and annual independent registered public accounting firm attestation reports regarding the effectiveness of our internal control over financial
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reporting that we will eventually be required to include in our periodic reports that will be filed with the SEC. Ineffective disclosure controls and procedures or internal control over financial reporting could also cause investors to lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our reported financial and other information, which would likely have a negative effect on the trading price of our common stock. In addition, if we are unable to continue to meet these requirements, we may not be able to remain listed on the Nasdaq. As a private company, we are not currently required to comply with the SEC rules that implement Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and are therefore not required to make a formal assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for that purpose. As a public company, we will be required to provide an annual management report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting commencing with our second Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our independent registered public accounting firm is not required to formally attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting until the later of (1) our second Annual Report on Form 10-K or (2) the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the first year we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company. At such time, our independent registered public accounting firm may issue a report that is adverse in the event it is not satisfied with the level at which our internal control over financial reporting is documented, designed or operating. Any failure to maintain effective disclosure controls and internal control over financial reporting could harm our business and could cause a decline in the trading price of our common stock. In addition, we could become subject to investigations by the stock exchange on which our securities are listed, the SEC or other regulatory authorities, which could require additional financial and management resources. These events could have a material and adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.
We are an “emerging growth company,” and the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the JOBS Act. We could continue to be considered an emerging growth company for up to five years, although we would lose that status sooner if our gross revenues exceed $1.07 billion, if we issue more than $1.0 billion in nonconvertible debt in a three-year period or if the fair value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeds $700.0 million (and we have been a public company for at least 12 months and have filed at least one Annual Report on Form 10-K). For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. It is unclear whether investors will find our common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and the trading price of our common stock may be more volatile.
If our estimates, assumptions and/or judgments relating to our critical accounting policies prove to be incorrect or financial reporting standards or interpretations change, our results of operations could be adversely affected.
The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities in our consolidated financial statements. We base our estimates on historical experience, and other assumptions we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, which together form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities. We regularly assess these estimates; however, actual amounts could differ from those estimates. Significant assumptions and estimates used in preparing our consolidated financial statements include revenue recognition, share-based compensation, common stock valuations, loss contingencies and income taxes. Our results of operations may be adversely affected if our assumptions change or if actual circumstances differ from those in our assumptions, which could cause our results of
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operations to fall below the expectations of industry or financial analysts and investors, resulting in a decline in the value of our common stock.
Our financial results may be negatively impacted by changes in generally accepted accounting principles in the United States.
GAAP are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles. A change in these principles or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported financial results, and may even affect the reporting of transactions completed before the announcement or effectiveness of a change. New accounting pronouncements and varying interpretations of accounting pronouncements have occurred in the past and may occur in the future. Changes to existing rules or the questioning of current practices may adversely affect our reported financial results or the way we conduct our business.
If securities or industry analysts issue an adverse or unfavorable opinion regarding our business or do not publish research or publish unfavorable research about our business, the trading price and trading volume of our common stock could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of these analysts does not initiate coverage over us, ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the trading price or trading volume of our common stock or trading volume to decline. Moreover, if any of the analysts who cover us issue an adverse or misleading opinion regarding us, our business model or our stock performance, or if our results of operations fail to meet the expectations of the investor community, one or more of the analysts who cover our company may change their recommendations regarding our company, and the trading price of our common stock could decline.
We may be adversely affected by natural disasters and other catastrophic events, pandemics or epidemics and by man-made problems such as terrorism, that could disrupt our business operations and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.
Natural disasters or other catastrophic events, including health pandemics or epidemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have caused, and may in the future cause, damage or disruption to our operations, international commerce and the global economy and could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Our business operations are subject to interruption by natural disasters, fire, power shortages, pandemics or epidemics and other events beyond our control. In addition, acts of terrorism and other geopolitical unrest could cause disruptions in our business or the businesses of our partners or the economy as a whole. In the event of a natural disaster, including a major earthquake or other catastrophic event such as a fire, power loss or telecommunications failure, we may be unable to continue our operations and may endure system interruptions, reputational harm, lengthy interruptions in service, breaches of data security and loss of critical data, any of which could have an adverse effect on our future results of operations.
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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This prospectus contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, which statements involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements generally relate to future events or our future financial or operating performance. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “could,” “intend,” “target,” “project,” “contemplate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential” or “continue” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions that concern our expectations, strategy, plans or intentions. Forward-looking statements contained in this prospectus include statements about:
our estimates of the size of our market opportunities;
our ability to effectively manage our growth;
our ability to successfully enter new markets, including any expansion into international markets, and comply with any applicable laws and regulations;
our ability to invest in and develop our products and services to operate with changing technology;
the expected benefits of our products to our customers and the impact of our products on our business;
the effects of increased competition from our market competitors;
the success of our marketing efforts and the ability to grow brand awareness and maintain, protect and enhance our brand;
the impact of negative publicity on our brand and reputation;
our ability to attract and retain our customers;
our ability to maintain the security and availability of our platform;
our ability to attract and retain key personnel and highly qualified personnel;
our expectations regarding the impacts of accounting guidance;
our expectations regarding litigation and regulatory proceedings;
our expectations regarding share-based compensation;
our ability to collect, store, share, disclose, transfer, receive, use and otherwise process customer information and other data, and compliance with laws, rules and regulations related to data privacy, protection and security;
our ability to comply with modified or new laws and regulations applying to our business, and potential harm to our business as a result of those laws and regulations;
the impact of adverse economic conditions;
our expectations regarding the continuing impact of COVID-19 on our business;
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the increased expenses associated with being a public company; and
our anticipated uses of net proceeds from this offering.
The forward-looking statements in this prospectus are only predictions and are based largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy, short-term and long-term business operations and objectives, and financial needs. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this prospectus and are subject to a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described in the section titled “Risk Factors.” Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the future events and trends discussed in this prospectus may not occur and actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements.
Because forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified, you should not rely upon these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, performance or achievements. We undertake no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements for any reason after the date of this prospectus or to conform these statements to actual results or revised expectations, except as required by law. The forward-looking statements contained in the prospectus are excluded from the safe harbor protection provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and Section 27A of the Securities Act.
You should read this prospectus and the documents that we reference in this prospectus and have filed with the SEC as exhibits to the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part with the understanding that our actual future results, performance, and events and circumstances may be materially different from what we expect.
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USE OF PROCEEDS
We estimate that our net proceeds from the sale of our common stock by us in this offering will be approximately $             , assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the range listed on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares of common stock by the selling stockholders.
A $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share would increase or decrease, as applicable, the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $             , assuming that the number of shares offered, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. An increase or decrease of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares of common stock offered by us in this offering, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $             , assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
We intend to use the net proceeds from the sale of shares in this offering for working capital, capital expenditures and general corporate purposes. We may use a portion of the net proceeds of this offering to fund the tax remittance obligations of Robinhood related to the settlement of the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs, Market-Based RSUs or outstanding stock options. If we decide to undertake a net settlement of the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs, Market-Based RSUs or outstanding stock options rather than allowing holders to sell to cover, we may use an additional portion of the net proceeds to satisfy all or a portion of the anticipated tax withholding and remittance obligations related to the settlement or exercise of such awards.
Our management will have broad discretion in the application of the net proceeds we receive from this offering, and investors will be relying on the judgment of our management regarding the application of our net proceeds. While we expect to use the net proceeds for the purposes described above, the timing and amount of our actual expenditures will be based on many factors, including cash flows from operations, the anticipated growth of our business, and the availability and terms of alternative financing sources to fund our growth.
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DIVIDEND POLICY
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We intend to retain all available funds and future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business, and we do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination regarding the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, results of operations, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects, and other factors our board of directors may deem relevant. In addition, the terms of our current credit facilities contain restrictions on our ability to pay cash dividends.
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CAPITALIZATION
The following table sets forth our cash and cash equivalents and our capitalization as of December 31, 2020:
on an actual basis;
on a pro forma basis, giving effect to (i) the Preferred Share Conversion, (ii) the Convertible Note Conversion, (iii) the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU Settlement, (iv) the Market-Based RSU Settlement, (v) the related increase in liabilities and corresponding decrease in additional paid-in capital for the associated tax liabilities related to the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU Settlement and the Market-Based RSU Settlement, (vi) stock-based compensation expense of $      related to IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs for which the time-based vesting condition was satisfied or partially satisfied as of December 31, 2020 and Market-Based RSUs, assuming the effectiveness of this offering on December 31, 2020 for purposes of any applicable time-based vesting conditions and, for purposes of determining the satisfaction of the market-based vesting condition, an initial public offering price of our common stock of $       per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, reflected as an increase to additional paid-in capital and accumulated deficit, and (vii) the filing and effectiveness of our Charter in Delaware, which will occur immediately prior to the completion of this offering; and
on a pro forma as adjusted basis to give further effect to (i) the pro forma adjustments set out above and (ii) our issuance and sale of             shares of common stock in this offering, assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions, estimated offering expenses payable by us and giving effect to the use of proceeds specified in “Use of Proceeds.”
The as adjusted information set forth in the table below is illustrative only and our capitalization following the completion of this offering will be adjusted based on the actual initial public offering price, the number of common shares sold in this offering and other terms of this offering determined at pricing. You should read the following table in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing at the end of this prospectus and the sections of the prospectus titled “Management’s
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Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Description of Capital Stock.”
As of December 31, 2020
ActualPro Forma
Pro Forma As Adjusted(1)
(unaudited)
(in thousands, except share and per share data)
Cash and cash equivalents$1,402,629 
$
$
Long-term debt(2)
— 
   
Warrants to purchase common stock(3)
— 
Redeemable convertible preferred stock, $0.0001 par value; 414,033,220 shares authorized, 412,742,897 shares issued and outstanding, actual; shares authorized, no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma;       shares authorized, no shares issued and outstanding, pro forma as adjusted
2,179,739 
Stockholders’ equity (deficit):
Common stock, $0.0001 par value; 777,354,000 shares authorized, 229,031,546 shares issued and outstanding, actual; shares authorized, shares issued and outstanding, pro forma;  shares authorized,           shares issued and outstanding, pro forma as adjusted
1
Additional paid-in capital134,307 
Accumulated other comprehensive income473 
Accumulated deficit(190,103)
Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)(55,322)
Total capitalization$2,124,417 $$
________________
(1)Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $          per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, each of cash and cash equivalents, additional paid-in capital, total stockholders’ equity and total capitalization on a pro forma as adjusted basis by approximately $          , assuming that the number of shares of common stock offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Similarly, each 1,000,000 share increase or decrease in the number of shares of common stock offered by us in this offering would increase or decrease, as applicable, each of cash and cash equivalents, additional paid-in capital, total stockholders’ equity and total capitalization on a pro forma as adjusted basis by approximately $          , assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share of our common stock of $          per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
(2)In February 2021, we issued two tranches of convertible notes, consisting of $2,532.0 million aggregate principal amount of Tranche I convertible notes and $1,020.0 million aggregate principal amount of Tranche II convertible notes. Unless earlier converted, upon the closing of this offering, the convertible notes will automatically convert into shares of our common stock at a conversion price equal to the lower of (i) 70% of the cash price per share paid by investors in this offering and (ii) $38.29 (in the case of the Tranche I convertible notes) or $42.12 (in the case of the Tranche II convertible notes). Interest on the convertible notes accrues at 6% per annum and is payable in kind. For more information about our convertible notes and warrant financings, see “Certain Relationships and Related Person Transactions—Convertible Note and Warrant Financings.”
(3)In connection with our February 2021 convertible note offering, we granted to each purchaser of the Tranche I convertible notes a warrant to purchase a number of shares of equity securities equal to 15% of the aggregate proceeds invested by such purchaser in the Tranche I convertible notes (i.e., $379.8 million in aggregate maximum purchase amount). Following this offering and until the tenth anniversary of their issue date, outstanding warrants will be exercisable for shares of our common stock at an exercise price equal to the lower of (i) 70% of the cash price per share paid by investors in this offering and (ii) $38.29. For more information about our convertible notes and warrant financing, see “Certain Relationships and Related Person Transactions—Convertible Note and Warrant Financings.”
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The pro forma and pro forma as adjusted columns in the table above are based on the number of shares of our common stock to be outstanding after this offering, which in turn is based on          shares of common stock issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2020, which gives effect to the Assumed Share Events set forth under the section titled “The Offering” and excludes:
21,543,828 shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of options to purchase shares of our common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2020 with a weighted-average exercise price of $2.19 per share;
shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of warrants to purchase shares of our equity securities, $          aggregate maximum purchase amount of which was outstanding as of           , 2021, assuming an exercise price of $           (which is the lower of (i) 70% of the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and (ii) $38.29);
37,170,402 shares of our common stock subject to Time-Based RSUs outstanding as of December 31, 2020, but for which the time-based vesting condition was not satisfied as of December 31, 2020;
              shares of our common stock subject to Market-Based RSUs outstanding as of December 31, 2020, but for which the quarterly time-based vesting condition was not satisfied as of December 31, 2020, assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $       per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus; and
14,022,717 shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2020 Plan as of December 31, 2020.
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DILUTION
If you invest in our common stock in this offering, your ownership interest will be immediately diluted to the extent of the difference between the initial public offering price per share and the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share immediately after this offering.
Our historical net tangible book value as of December 31, 2020 was $(55.5) million, or $(0.24) per share of common stock. Our historical net tangible book value represents our total tangible assets less our total liabilities, which is not included within our stockholders’ equity. Historical net tangible book value per share represents historical net tangible book value divided by the 229,031,546 shares of common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2020.
Our pro forma net tangible book value as of December 31, 2020 was $             , or $             per share of common stock. Pro forma net tangible book value per share represents the amount of our total tangible assets less our total liabilities. Pro forma net tangible book value per share represents our pro forma net tangible book value divided by             , the total number of shares of common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2020, after giving effect to (i) the Preferred Share Conversion, (ii) the Convertible Note Conversion, (iii) the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU Settlement, (iv) the Market-Based RSU Settlement, (v) the related increase in liabilities and corresponding decrease in additional paid-in capital for the associated tax liabilities related to the IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSU Settlement and the Market-Based RSU Settlement, (vi) stock-based compensation expense of $      related to IPO-Vesting Time-Based RSUs for which the time-based vesting condition was satisfied or partially satisfied as of December 31, 2020 and Market-Based RSUs, assuming the effectiveness of this offering on December 31, 2020 for purposes of any applicable time-based vesting conditions and, for purposes of determining the satisfaction of the market-based vesting condition, an initial public offering price of our common stock of $       per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, reflected as an increase to additional paid-in capital and accumulated deficit, and (vii) the filing and effectiveness of our Charter in Delaware, which will occur immediately prior to the completion of this offering.
After giving further effect to our issuance and sale of             shares of common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of December 31, 2020 would have been $           , or approximately $             per share. This amount represents an immediate increase in the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value of $             per share to our existing stockholders and immediate dilution of $             per share to new investors purchasing our shares of common stock in this offering.
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Dilution per share to new investors is determined by subtracting the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering from the initial public offering price per share of our common stock paid by new investors. The following table illustrates this dilution on a per share basis:
Assumed initial public offering price per share$
Historical net tangible book value per share as of December 31, 2020
Increase per share attributable to the pro forma adjustments described above
Pro forma net tangible book value per share as of December 31, 2020
Increase in pro forma net tangible book value per share attributable to new investors purchasing shares of common stock in this offering
Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share immediately after this offering
Dilution in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share to new investors in this offering$
The dilution information discussed above is illustrative only and will change based on the actual initial public offering price, the number of shares of common stock sold by us in this offering and other terms of this offering determined at pricing. Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, the as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering by approximately $             and the dilution per share to new investors by $             , assuming that the number of shares of common stock offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Each increase of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares of common stock offered by us would increase our as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering by $             and decrease the dilution per share to new investors by $             , assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions. Each decrease of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares of common stock offered by us would decrease our as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering by $             and increase the dilution per share to new investors by $             , assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
If the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us in this offering, our as pro forma adjusted net tangible book value per share after the offering would be $             , and the dilution per share to new investors would be $             , in each case assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions.
The following table summarizes, as of December 31, 2020, on the pro forma as adjusted basis as described above, the total number of shares of common stock purchased from us, the total consideration paid and the average price per share paid or to be paid by existing stockholders and new investors acquiring shares of common stock in this offering, assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated price range set forth on the cover
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page of this prospectus, before deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
Shares PurchasedTotal ConsiderationWeighted Average Price Per Share
NumberPercent
Amount
(in thousands)
Percent
Existing stockholders%$%$
New investors 
Total100 %$100 %$
The table above assumes no exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of our common stock. If the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional shares of common stock, the percentage of shares of our common stock held by existing stockholders would be decreased to             % of the total number of our common stock outstanding after this offering, and the number of shares held by new investors participating in this offering would be increased to             % of the total number of shares of our common stock outstanding after this offering.
The number of shares of our common stock to be outstanding after this offering is based on            shares of common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2020, which gives effect to the Assumed Share Events set forth under the section titled “The Offering” and excludes:
21,543,828 shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of options to purchase shares of our common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2020 with a weighted-average exercise price of $2.19 per share;
shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of warrants to purchase shares of our equity securities, $          aggregate maximum purchase amount of which was outstanding as of           , 2021, assuming an exercise price of $           (which is the lower of (i) 70% of the assumed initial public offering price of our common stock of $      per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and (ii) $38.29);
37,170,402 shares of our common stock subject to Time-Based RSUs outstanding as of December 31, 2020, but for which the time-based vesting condition was not satisfied as of December 31, 2020;
              shares of our common stock subject to Market-Based RSUs outstanding as of December 31, 2020, but for which the quarterly time-based vesting condition was not satisfied as of December 31, 2020, assuming an initial public offering price of our common stock of $       per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus; and
14,022,717 shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2020 Plan as of December 31, 2020.
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MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
This section presents management’s perspective on our financial condition and results of operations. The following discussion and analysis is intended to highlight and supplement data and information presented elsewhere in this prospectus, and should be read in conjunction with the sections “Prospectus Summary—Summary Historical Consolidated Financial and Operating Data” and our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto appearing at the end of this prospectus. It is also intended to provide you with information that will assist you in understanding our consolidated financial statements, the changes in key items in those consolidated financial statements from year to year, and the primary factors that accounted for those changes. To the extent that this discussion describes prior performance, the descriptions relate only to the periods listed, which may not be indicative of our future financial outcomes. In addition to historical information, this discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause results to differ materially from management’s expectations. Factors that could cause such differences are discussed in the sections titled “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and “Risk Factors.”
Data as of and for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020 has been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements appearing at the end of this prospectus.
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Overview
Robinhood was founded on the belief that everyone should be welcome to participate in our financial system. We are creating a modern financial services platform for everyone, regardless of their wealth, income or background.
We have continually built relationships with our customers by introducing new products with compelling value propositions that further expand access to the financial system. As we have expanded our platform, we have experienced significant growth in customers:
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Our mission to democratize finance for all drives our revenue model. We pioneered commission-free trading with no account minimums, giving smaller investors access to the financial markets. Many of our customers are getting started with less, which often means they’re trading a smaller number of shares. Rather than earning revenue from fixed trading commissions which, before Robinhood introduced commission free trading, had often ranged from $8 to $10 per trade, the majority of our revenue is earned through payment for order flow.
We also earn net interest revenues, primarily from our securities lending program and interest earned on margin lending and cash deposits, net of borrowing costs related to our revolving lines of credit. We also earn subscription revenue from our Robinhood Gold product.
With respect to certain of our financial and operating results as of or for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019:
we generated total revenues of $959 million and $278 million, for year-over-year growth of 245%;
we had Net Cumulative Funded Accounts of 12.5 million and 5.1 million, for year-over-year growth of 143%;
we had Monthly Active Users of 11.7 million and 4.3 million in December of the relevant year, for period-over-period growth of 172%;
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we generated net income of $7 million and incurred a net loss of $107 million; and
our Adjusted EBITDA was positive $155 million and negative $74 million.
For definitions of “Net Cumulative Funded Accounts” and “Monthly Active Users,” please see “—Key Performance Metrics.” For more information about Adjusted EBITDA, including the definition and limitations of such measure, and a reconciliation of net income (loss) to Adjusted EBITDA, please see “—Non-GAAP Financial Metrics.”
We have grown rapidly and achieved significant scale in recent periods. The charts below further illustrate our financial and operating results for the periods presented:
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________________
(1)Reflects MAUs for December of each year presented. See “—Key Performance Metrics” below for a definition of “Monthly Active Users” or “MAU.”
(2)Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP measure. See “—Non-GAAP Financial Measures” below for more information about Adjusted EBITDA, including the definition and limitations of such measure, and a reconciliation of net income (loss) to Adjusted EBITDA.
Our Business Model
Our business model is characterized by efficient new customer growth and strong expansion within our customer base.
New Customer Growth
A majority of our new customers join our platform organically or through the Robinhood Referral Program. These channels were responsible for over 80% of the new Funded Accounts that joined our platform in 2020 and generally have lower direct expense rates as compared to other marketing methods such as paid digital and broad-scale advertising, helping to maintain low average customer acquisition costs and rapid payback. Our ability to achieve high customer growth is supported by our platform’s high engagement, as potential customers see and hear those around them using our platform and services and then join Robinhood on their own or after being referred by their family, friends or colleagues. We also supplement these channels with paid digital and broad-scale advertising to widen the reach of our
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marketing efforts. While such paid marketing channels have historically driven a smaller portion of our new customer growth, in-market testing has helped us determine the most effective paid channels, and we believe paid digital marketing is, and will be in the future, a powerful complement to our other customer acquisition channels. See “—Key Performance Metrics” below for a definition of “Funded Accounts.”
We measure the efficiency of our new customer growth by evaluating our “revenue payback period.” For the monthly cohorts in the year ended December 31, 2019, our average revenue payback period was approximately 13 months, and for the monthly cohorts in the nine month period ended September 30, 2020, our average revenue payback period improved to less than six months. This improvement was driven primarily by improved efficiencies in marketing expenses, including as a result of a greater proportion of our new customers joining our platform organically or through the Robinhood Referral Program. See “—Key Performance Metrics” for definitions of “cohort” and “revenue payback period.”
Customer Relationship Expansion
We believe many of our customers are still in the early stages of building a relationship with a financial services provider. From January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2020, over half of the customers funding accounts on our platform told us that Robinhood was their first brokerage account. As we work to enable Robinhood customers to manage all aspects of their financial lives in one place, we have seen customers deepen their relationship with our platform. We monitor this expansion by tracking the Cumulative Net Deposits and total revenue earned through existing customers’ activity over time.
Cumulative Net Deposits. We track the average balance of Cumulative Net Deposits for existing customers in any given quarter over time. We believe Cumulative Net Deposits is an important indicator of our customers’ trust and relationship with our platform. From January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2020, average Cumulative Net Deposits across our monthly cohorts increased 3.3x after 12 months of initial deposit and 4.1x after 24 months of initial deposit. See “—Key Performance Metrics” below for definitions of “Cumulative Net Deposits” and “cohort.” The chart below shows the trajectory and growth of Cumulative Net Deposits by annual cohort.
Cumulative Net Deposits by Annual Cohort
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Revenue. Revenue by cohort is an important indicator of customer usage of our platform. We categorize our customers on a cohort basis based on the month, quarter or year they first funded their accounts. We track the annual revenue from those cohorts over subsequent one-year periods. On average, revenues per user increased nearly three-fold in the first 24 months for both our 2017 and 2018 annual cohorts. The chart below illustrates our revenue by annual cohort, reflecting our customers’ increasing activity on our platform.
Annual Revenue by Annual Cohort
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Key Performance Metrics
In addition to the measures presented in our consolidated financial statements, we use the following key business metrics to help us evaluate our business, identify trends affecting our business, formulate business plans and make strategic decisions:
Year or Month Ended December 31,
(in millions)2017201820192020
Net Cumulative Funded Accounts(1)
1.9 3.3 5.1 12.5 
Monthly Average Users (MAU)(2)
1.8 3.3 4.3 11.7 
Assets Under Custody (AUC)(3)
$4,505.7 $8,144.0 $14,135.6 $62,977.8 
________________
(1)Net Cumulative Funded Accounts. We define Net Cumulative Funded Accounts as the total of Net Funded Accounts from inception to a stated date or period end. “Net Funded Accounts” is the total number of Funded Accounts for a stated period, excluding “churned users” and including “resurrected users” as of the end of that period. A “Funded Account” is a Robinhood account into which the account user makes an initial deposit or money transfer, of any amount, during the relevant period. Users are considered “churned” if their accounts were previously Funded Accounts and their account balance drops to or below zero dollars for 45 consecutive calendar days. Users are considered “resurrected” if they were considered churned users during and as of the end of the immediately preceding period, and had their account balance increase above zero (and are not considered churned users) in the current period.
(2)Monthly Average Users (“MAU”). We define MAU as the number of Monthly Active Users during a specified calendar month. A “Monthly Active User” is a unique user who makes a debit card transaction, transitions between two different screens on a mobile device or who loads a page in a web browser, at any point during the relevant month. A user need not have a Funded Account to be included in MAU. Figures in the table reflect MAU for December of each year presented.
(3)Assets Under Custody (“AUC”). We define AUC as the sum of the fair value of all equities, options, cryptocurrency and cash held by users in their accounts, net of customer margin balances, as of a stated date or period end.
Cohort: We define “cohort” as a group of customers who funded their accounts for the first time on our platform during a specified calendar month, quarter or year. Cohort metrics vary depending on activity on our platform and may fluctuate periodically based on levels of customer usage.
Cumulative Net Deposits: We define “Cumulative Net Deposits” as the total of Net Deposits from inception to a stated date or period end. We define “Net Deposits” as all cash deposits received from customers net of reversals, customer cash withdrawals and other equity and cash amounts transferred out of our platform (including in connection with debit card transactions and account transfers out of our platform through the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (“ACATS”)) for a stated period. Cumulative Net Deposits includes, for periods prior to the adoption of our self-clearing platform in November 2018, account transfers into our platform made through ACATS.
Revenue Payback Period: With respect to a given monthly cohort, we define “revenue payback period” as the number of months it takes for total revenues generated by that monthly cohort to equal or exceed the marketing expense incurred in the month the cohort was formed. For purposes of this calculation, marketing expense excludes customer goodwill, gain/loss on stock referral inventory and headcount, occupancy and depreciation attributed to the marketing team. In this prospectus, we also present “average revenue payback period” for a stated period, which represents the average of the revenue payback periods for all monthly cohorts within such period.
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Non-GAAP Financial Measures
Adjusted EBITDA
We collect and analyze operating and financial data to evaluate the health of our business, allocate our resources and assess our performance. In addition to total net revenue, net income (loss) and other results under GAAP, we utilize non-GAAP calculations of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”). Adjusted EBITDA is defined as net income (loss), excluding (i) provision for (benefit from) income taxes, (ii) interest expense on credit facilities, (iii) depreciation and amortization, (iv) share-based compensation expenses and (v) certain legal and tax settlements, reserves and expenses.
The above items are excluded from our Adjusted EBITDA measure because these items are non-cash in nature, or because the amount and timing of these items is unpredictable, is not driven by core results of operations and renders comparisons with prior periods and competitors less meaningful. We believe Adjusted EBITDA provides useful information to investors and others in understanding and evaluating our results of operations, as well as providing a useful measure for period-to-period comparisons of our business performance. Moreover, we have included Adjusted EBITDA in this prospectus because it is a key measurement used by our management internally to make operating decisions, including those related to operating expenses, evaluate performance, and perform strategic planning and annual budgeting. However, this non-GAAP financial information is presented for supplemental informational purposes only, should not be considered a substitute for or superior to financial information presented in accordance with GAAP and may be different from similarly titled non-GAAP measures used by other companies. The following table presents a reconciliation of net income (loss), the most directly comparable GAAP measure, to Adjusted EBITDA:
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands)2017201820192020
Net income (loss)$(6,133)$(57,460)$(106,569)$7,449 
Add:
Interest expenses related to credit facilities — 991 4,882 
Provision for (benefit from) income taxes15 860 (1,018)6,381 
Depreciation and amortization773 2,194 5,444 9,938 
EBITDA (non-GAAP)(5,345)(54,401)(101,152)28,650 
Share-based compensation929 54,971 26,667 24,330 
Certain legal and tax settlements, reserves and expenses(1)
— — — 101,600 
Adjusted EBITDA (non-GAAP)$(4,416)$570 $(74,485)$154,580 
_________________
(1)Certain legal and tax settlements, reserves and expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020 includes (i) the payment of $65 million made by RHF to the SEC in connection with the settlement we entered into with the SEC, on a neither admit nor deny basis, following the investigation by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement into RHF’s best execution and PFOF practices, as well as statements concerning its source of revenue, (ii) the charge of $26.6 million for potential resolution of certain FINRA matters, including the March 2020 Outages and options trading and related customer communications and displays, and (iii) the charge of $10 million for potential resolution of an NYDFS matter focused primarily on anti-money laundering and cybersecurity-related issues. For more information about these matters, see “Business—Legal Proceedings.”
Key Factors Driving Our Performance
Growing our Customer Base
Sustaining our growth requires continued adoption of our platform by new customers. We will continue to introduce products and features to attract new customers and we will seek to increase brand awareness and customer adoption of our platform through the Robinhood Referral Program and digital and broad-scale advertising. See “—Our Business Model—New Customer Growth” above for more information.
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Expanding Our Relationship with Existing Customers
Our revenue has continued to grow as we have introduced new products and features to our customers and as our customers have increased their usage of our platform. We aim to grow with our customers over time and to grow our relationship with our customers as they build and manage their wealth. Our ability to expand our relationship with our customers will be an important contributor to our long-term growth. See “—Our Business Model—Customer Relationship Expansion” above for more information.
Investing in Our Platform
We intend to continue to invest in our platform capabilities and regulatory and compliance functions to support new and existing customers and products that we believe will drive our growth. As our customer base and platform functionalities expand, areas of investment priority include product innovation, educational content, technology and infrastructure improvements and customer support. We believe these investments will contribute to our long-term growth.
Customer Interest in Investing and Saving
Our results of operations are impacted by the overall health of the economy and retail investing and saving behaviors, which include the following key drivers:
Seasonality. We believe investment activity will vary throughout a calendar year. Given traditional consumer behavior, we expect to see more new customers in the first calendar quarter.
Consumer Behavior. Consumer behavior varies over time and is affected by numerous conditions. For example, behavior may be impacted by social or economic factors such as changes in disposable income levels, general interest in investing and stock market volatility. There may also be high profile initial public offerings, or idiosyncratic events impacting single companies, that impact consumer behavior. These shifts in consumer behavior may influence interest in our products over time.
Market Trends. As financial markets grow and contract, our customers’ investing, saving, and spending behaviors are affected. Although our operating history has coincided with a period of general macroeconomic growth in the United States, particularly in the U.S. equity markets, stimulating growth in overall investment activity on our platform, we may be impacted by any slowdowns in growth or downturns in the U.S. equity markets.
Macroeconomic Events. Customer behavior is impacted by the overall macroeconomic environment, which is influenced by events such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (including COVID-19 vaccine development and responsive measures taken by the U.S. government) as well as its effects on both global business and individuals’ behavior. Other macroeconomic conditions that could impact customer behavior include employment rates, natural disasters and other political or economic events.
For more information about how market trends and macroeconomic events can adversely impact our results of operations, see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business.”
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Key Components of our Results of Operations
Revenues
Transaction-based revenues
Transaction-based revenues consist of amount earned from routing customer orders for equities, options, and cryptocurrencies to executing brokers. When customers place orders for equities, options or cryptocurrencies on our platform, we route these orders to executing brokers and we earn transaction fees from those brokers (also known as “payment for order flow” or “PFOF”). In the case of equities, these cash payments are typically based on the size of the publicly quoted bid-ask spread for the security being traded; that is, we receive a fixed percentage of the difference between the publicly quoted bid and ask at the time the trade is executed. For options, our fee is on a per contract basis based on the underlying security. In the case of cryptocurrencies, our fee is a fixed percentage of the notional order value. For each asset class, whether equities, options or cryptocurrencies, the transaction fees we earn are identical among all executing brokers. We route orders to participating market makers that are most likely to give our customers the best execution, based on historical performance, and do not consider such transaction fees when routing orders.
Net interest revenues
Net interest revenues consist of interest revenues less interest expenses.
We earn interest revenues and incur interest expenses on securities lending transactions. We also earn interest revenues on margin loans to users, as well as on our segregated cash, cash and cash equivalents, and deposits with clearing organizations. We also incur interest expenses in connection with our revolving credit facilities.
Other revenues
Other revenues primarily consist of Robinhood Gold, a monthly paid subscription service that provides users with premium features such as enhanced instant deposits, professional research, Nasdaq Level II market data and, upon approval, access to margin investing. Other revenues also include proxy rebate revenues.
Operating Expenses
Brokerage and transaction
Brokerage and transaction costs primarily consist of fees paid to centralized clearinghouses, regulatory fees, market data expenses, compensation and benefits, including share-based compensation, for employees engaged in clearing and brokerage functions and allocated overhead. A large portion of our brokerage and transaction costs are variable and tied to trading and transaction volumes on our platform.
Technology and development
Technology and development costs primarily consist of compensation and benefits, including share-based compensation, for engineering, data science and design personnel, costs incurred to support and improve our platform and develop new products, costs associated with computer hardware and software, including amortization of internally developed software, and allocated overhead. We intend to continue to invest in technology and development for the foreseeable future as we focus on developing new features and enhancements on our platform, while also developing new products to serve the needs of our customers.
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Operations
Operations costs primarily consist of customer service related expenses, including compensation and benefits, which includes share-based compensation, for employees engaged in customer support, third-party customer service vendors, customer onboarding and account verification. Operations costs also include our provision for credit losses primarily in connection with unrecoverable receivables due to Fraudulent Deposit Transactions and, to a lesser extent, losses on margin borrowings, as well as allocated overhead. We plan to continue to invest in customer service related expenses to support the significant growth in our user base.
Marketing
Marketing costs primarily consist of expenses associated with the Robinhood Referral Program, production and placement of advertisements in various media outlets, including online and on television, and customer goodwill, which primarily relates to costs to remediate losses experienced by our customers due to service interruptions on our platform and reimbursement of direct losses that happen due to unauthorized activity that is not the fault of our customer. Marketing costs also include compensation and benefits, including share-based compensation, for employees engaged in the marketing function and allocated overhead. We plan to continue to invest in marketing efforts through the Robinhood Referral Program and other media outlets to support growing our user base. See “—Our Business Model—New Customer Growth” above for more information.
General and administrative
General and administrative costs primarily consist of compensation and benefits, including share-based compensation, for certain executives as well as employees engaged in legal, finance, human resources, risk, and compliance. General and administrative costs also include certain legal settlements and professional fees, such as, but not limited to, legal, audit and accounting fees, as well as allocated overhead.
Results of Operations
The following table summarizes our consolidated statements of operations data:
(in thousands)Year Ended December 31,
20192020
Revenues:
Transaction-based revenues$170,831 $720,133 
Net interest revenues70,639 177,437 
Other revenues36,063 61,263 
Total net revenues277,533 958,833 
Operating expenses:(1)
Brokerage and transaction 45,459 111,083 
Technology and development94,932 215,630 
Operations33,869 137,905 
Marketing124,699 185,741 
General and administrative85,504 294,694 
Total operating expenses384,463 945,053 
Other expense (income), net657 (50)
Income (loss) before income tax(107,587)13,830 
Provision for (benefit from) income taxes(1,018)6,381 
Net income (loss)$(106,569)$7,449 
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(1)Includes share-based compensation expense as follows:
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands)20192020
Brokerage and transaction $427 $227 
Technology and development9,499 18,024 
Operations139 61 
Marketing85 613 
General and administrative16,517 5,405
Total share-based compensation expense$26,667 $24,330 
Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2019 and 2020
Revenues
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands, except for percentages)20192020% Change
Revenues:
Transaction-based revenues$170,831$720,133322 %
Net interest revenues70,639177,437151 %
Other revenues36,06361,26370 %
Total net revenues277,533958,833245 %
Net revenues mix:
Transaction-based revenues62 %75 %
Net interest revenues25 %19 %
Other revenues13 %%
Total net revenues100 %100 %
Transaction-based revenues
Transaction-based revenues increased by $549.3 million, or 322%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. The increase was driven by a 143% increase in Net Cumulative Funded Accounts, which resulted in higher trading volume in options, equities and cryptocurrencies. Increased interest in personal finance and investing, low interest rates and a positive market environment, especially in the U.S. equities markets, encouraged an unprecedented number of first-time retail investors to become our users and begin trading on our platform. We have seen substantial growth in our user base, retention, engagement and trading activity metrics, as well as continued gains and periodic all-time highs achieved by the equity markets.
Net interest revenues
Net interest revenues increased by $106.8 million, or 151%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. The increase was primarily due to higher interest revenues earned through securities lending activities and on margin loans to users, offset by lower interest revenue earned on segregated cash and securities, and increased interest expense related to our revolving credit facilities.
Net interest revenues earned from securities lending transactions increased $91.8 million as we grew our securities lending program, which benefited from higher returns on hard-to-borrow securities. Securities loaned increased 185%, to $1.9 billion, while securities borrowed remained flat at $0.4 million. Interest revenue earned on margin borrowings increased by $47.7 million due to an increase in both the number of margin borrowers and average per-user margin balance. Interest revenue earned on segregated cash and securities balances decreased $22.9 million due to the decrease in the Federal Reserve's benchmark target rate to near zero.
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Other revenues
Other revenues increased by $25.2 million, or 70%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. The increase was primarily due to an increase in subscribers to Robinhood Gold and higher proxy rebate revenue resulting from the growth in our user base.
Operating Expenses
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands, except for percentages)20192020% Change
Operating expenses:
Brokerage and transaction $45,459$111,083144 %
Technology and development94,932215,630127 %
Operations33,869137,905307 %
Marketing124,699185,74149 %
General and administrative85,504294,694245 %
Total operating expenses$384,463$945,053146 %
Percent of net revenues:
Brokerage and transaction 16 %12 %
Technology and development34 %22 %
Operations12 %14 %
Marketing45 %19 %
General and administrative31 %31 %
Total operating expenses139 %99 %
Brokerage and transaction
Brokerage and transaction costs increased by $65.6 million, or 144%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $31.6 million in clearing fees, an increase of $10.5 million in regulatory fees, and an increase of $9.6 million in market data fees. The increases were in line with the growth in our user base and higher trading volumes on a per user basis.
Technology and development
Technology and development costs increased by $120.7 million, or 127%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $55.1 million in employee compensation and benefits, including share-based compensation, net of capitalized costs for internally developed software, as we continued to grow our engineering, data science, and design teams to support the growth of our user base and develop new products. We also experienced an increase of $54.0 million in costs for cloud infrastructure and other software services utilized in delivering our products.
Operations
Operations costs increased by $104.0 million, or 307%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. The increase was primarily due to an increase in provision for credit losses of $47.1 million, mainly driven by Fraudulent Deposit Transactions and, to a lesser extent, losses on margin borrowings, which have both increased with the growth of our user base. We also incurred additional compensation and benefits expense of $21.7 million for customer support and other operations employees as we more than tripled the number of our dedicated customer support professionals from the year prior. Costs related to third-party customer support vendors increased $21.3 million.
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Marketing
Marketing costs increased by $61.0 million, or 49%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. Expenses associated with our Robinhood Referral Program increased $52.1 million and customer goodwill related to costs to remediate losses experienced by our users due to service interruptions and unauthorized activity on our platform increased $12.4 million.
General and administrative
General and administrative costs increased by $209.2 million, or 245%, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year prior. The increase was primarily due to a total of $101.6 million in certain legal settlements or reserves as discussed in Note 13 to our consolidated financial statements and elsewhere in this prospectus, an increase of $67.5 million in professional fees and an increase of $40.9 million in compensation and benefits, excluding share-based compensation, for general and administrative personnel. The increase was partially offset by lower share-based compensation of $11.1 million related to the 2020 Tender Offer as compared to the 2019 Tender Offer.
Provision for (Benefit from) Income Taxes
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands, except for percentages)20192020% Change
Provision for (benefit from) income taxes$(1,018)$6,381 NM
Provision for income taxes increased by $7.4 million, for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year ended December 31, 2019. The increase was primarily due to the growth of the business and the accrual of non-deductible regulatory settlements in 2020.
Quarterly Results of Operations
The following table sets forth our unaudited quarterly consolidated statements of operations data for each of the quarterly periods for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020. The unaudited quarterly statements of operations data have been prepared on the same basis as our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus and include all adjustments and reflect, in our opinion, all adjustments of a normal, recurring nature that are necessary for the fair statement of the results of operations for these periods. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected in the future. The results of a particular quarter or other interim period are not necessarily indicative of the results for a full fiscal year or any other period. The following unaudited quarterly consolidated results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
113


Quarterly Consolidated Statements of Operations
Three Months Ended
(in thousands)Mar. 31, 2019Jun. 30, 2019Sept. 30, 2019Dec. 31, 2019Mar. 31, 2020Jun. 30, 2020Sept. 30, 2020Dec. 31, 2020
Revenues:
Transaction-based revenues$33,851 $44,800 $48,841 $43,339 $95,631 $187,413 $201,807 $235,282 
Net interest revenues11,533 15,618 21,946 21,542 24,016 39,998 50,406 63,017 
Other revenues10,772 11,314 6,693 7,284 7,903 16,800 17,317 19,243 
Total net revenues56,156 71,732 77,480 72,165 127,550 244,211 269,530 317,542 
Operating expenses:(1)
Brokerage and transaction 8,225 11,142 12,713 13,379 20,404 28,612 31,444 30,623 
Technology and development16,304 18,239 29,580 30,809 33,205 44,971 55,491 81,963 
Operations6,058 8,984 7,436 11,391 21,813 30,464 40,962 44,666 
Marketing27,672 28,211 27,825 40,991 69,922 43,510 39,088 33,221 
General and administrative9,944 16,498 38,127 20,935 34,651 38,636 113,494 107,913 
Total operating expenses68,203 83,074 115,681 117,505 179,995 186,193 280,479 298,386 
Other expense (income), net107 115 280 155 143 (100)45 (138)
Income (loss) before income tax(12,154)(11,457)(38,481)(45,495)(52,588)58,118 (10,994)19,294 
Provision for (benefit from) income taxes(55)(55)(55)(853)(86)534 (333)6,266 
Net income (loss)$(12,099)$(11,402)$(38,426)$(44,642)$(52,502)$57,584 $(10,661)$13,028 
_______________
(1)Includes share-based compensation expense as follows:
Three Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2019Jun. 30, 2019Sept. 30, 2019Dec. 31, 2019Mar. 31, 2020Jun. 30, 2020Sept. 30, 2020Dec. 31, 2020
Brokerage and transaction $24 $15 $375 $13 $$$$209 
Technology and development991 1,002 5,971 1,535 1,716 824 992 14,492 
Operations24 21 80 14 10 38 
Marketing59 40 558 
General and administrative402 431 13,682 2,002 672 520 528 3,685 
Total share-based compensation expense$1,450 $1,477 $20,167 $3,573 $2,412 $1,365 $1,571 $18,982 
114


Quarterly Consolidated Statements of Operations, as a percentage of revenue
Three Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2019Jun. 30, 2019Sept. 30, 2019Dec. 31, 2019Mar. 31, 2020Jun. 30, 2020Sept. 30, 2020Dec. 31, 2020
Revenues:
Transaction-based revenues60 %62 %63 %60 %75 %77 %75 %74 %
Net interest revenues21 %