Vlad Tenev of Robinhood
Scott Everett

Robinhood: Vlad Tenev

Vlad Tenev @vladtenev is the CEO and Co-Founder of Robinhood, the popular and controversial stock trading application that brings the highs and lows of Wall Street to the average citizen. After moving from Bulgaria and pursuing physics in California, Vlad dove into the world of electronic trading with co-founder Baiju Bhatt after witnessing the frustration Americans had with Wall Street during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Together, they worked to increase the speed of electronic trading before founding Robinhood in 2013.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the app crashed due to a surge of newly interested investors and Robinhood unintentionally found itself in headlines again in June when a user took his own life after erroneously believing he owed $730,000 after trading within the app. Robinhood received more attention in January 2021 when they halted trading on some stocks after a community of Redditors banded together to spike the share price on companies like GameStop and AMC Theaters.

Show Notes:

5:44 - Vlad’s Childhood
7:57 - How Vlad met Baiju Bhatt
10:25 - Vlad’s postgrad and rethinking his future
13:45 - How trading works
18:18 - How Vlad and Baiju wanted to improve trading
24:35 - Vlad’s first transformation
27:03 - Vlad’s second transformation
30:20 - Vlad’s third transformation
31:55 - Vlad’s reaction to the Occupy Wall Street movement
34:48 - The idea for Robinhood
41:23 - Robinhood’s business plan
46:50 - How Vlad and Baiju divided the work
48:20 - Fundraising
52:00 - The origin of the name “Robinhood”
53:00 - How Robinhood could make money
58:07 - Robinhood’s accessibility
60:00 - The huge risks and Robinhood’s safety measures
61:30 - Early success
65:46 - The app crashes
70:13 - Alex Kearns suicide
71:44 - Baiju steps down, leaving Vlad as sole CEO
73:08 - The Gamestop controversy
76:30 - Unintended consequences
81:00 - Vlad’s reaction to the media
82:50 - Luck vs. hard work

Selected Links:

Collapse of communism in Bulgaria
Thomas Jefferson High School

Quantitative Trading

Baiju Bhatt

Stock Trading for Beginners

Netscape Spread Networks

2008 Financial Crisis

Flash Boys - Michael Lewis

Occupy Wall Street

Foursquare

The Lean Startup - Eric Ries

SEC fines Robinhood

Robinhood app crashes in March 2020

Death of Alex Kearns

Gamestop Controversy

Vlad’s CNN interview

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