How Robinhood’s explosive growth rate came to be

This afternoon Robinhood filed to go public. TechCrunch’s first look at its results can be found here. Now that we’ve done a first dig, we can take the time to dive into the company’s filing more deeply.

Robinhood’s IPO has long been anticipated not only because there are billions of dollars in capital riding on its impending liquidity. But also because the company became something of a poster child for the savings and investing boom that 2020 saw and the COVID-19 pandemic helped engender.

The consumer trading service’s products became so popular, and enmeshed in popular culture thanks to both the “stonks” movement and the larger GameStop brouhaha, that the company’s public offering carries much more weight than that of a more regular venture-backed entity. Robinhood has fans, haters, and many an observer in Congress.

Regardless of all that, today we are digging into the company’s business, and financial results. So, if you want to better understand how Robinhood makes money, and how profitable or not it really is, this is for you.

We will start with a more in-depth look at growth and profitability, pivot to learning about the company’s revenue makeup, discuss a risk factor or two, and close on its decision to offer some of its own shares to its users. Let’s go!

Inside Robinhood’s growth engine

Before we get into the how of Robinhood’s growth, let’s discuss its how big the company has become.

The fintech unicorn’s revenue grew from $277.5 million in 2019 to $958.8 million in 2020, which works out to growth of around 245%. Robinhood expanded even more quickly in the first quarter of 2021, scaling from year-ago revenue of $127.6 million to $522.2 million, a gain of around 309%.

Those are numbers that we frankly do not see often amongst companies going public; 300% growth is a pre-Series A metric, usually.