Barely 4 years old, and with only 200 employees, Robinhood has grown tremendously to become larger than the well-known E-trade. Sporting 4 million accounts vs. E-trade’s 3.7 million, Robinhood sees itself as just getting started. The company is taking aim at Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange with more than 20 million accounts:
Robinhood, the free stock trading app, has raised $363 million in a new investment round valuing the company at $5.6 billion.
The Series D round, announced Thursday, makes Robinhood the second most valuable private fintech startup in the U.S. after Stripe, the online payments company.
Bucking the model of traditional brokerages—which rely on trade commissions to make money—the three-year-old Robinhood has shown an ability to rapidly overtake incumbents in one of the oldest Wall Street industries. In the past year, the number of Robinhood brokerage accounts has doubled to more than 4 million, surpassing E*Trade, which had 3.7 million according to its most recently monthly disclosure.
At the same time, Robinhood’s valuation—which stood at $1.3 billion after its last fundraising round a year ago—has more than quadrupled. DST Global led Robinhood’s latest round, while new investors including Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Iconiq Capital and Capital G (the venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL, +1.25%)) also participated.
Driving that growth has been a flurry of new product launches just since last November, including a web version of the Robinhood app, commission-free options trading, and, most notably, free Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading. Robinhood accomplished that with fewer than 200 total employees, though it’s planning to hire more technical talent and experienced executives with its new funding.
“I think the real ‘X factor’ that made investors even more excited about being a part of Robinhood was seeing our ability to, with a very, very limited workforce, to ship three brand new products in these last six months, while maintaining and growing one of the largest brokerages in the U.S.,” Baiju Bhatt, Robinhood’s co-founder and co-CEO, tellsFortune.
Robinhood Crypto, which launched in February and is currently available in 10 U.S. states, is expanding to new states as fast as it can secure the necessary licenses for each, and Bhatt expects the offering to roll out country-wide by the end of 2018. While the most popular place to trade Bitcoin in the U.S. is currently Coinbase, which boasts more than 20 million customer accounts, Bhatt is confident that Robinhood will soon become a close rival—or take the lead altogether.
One last observation: the cryptosphere is overwhelmed with young guns who incessantly proclaim that Bitcoin is “going to the the moon.” Is it more than just coincidence that Robinhood’s website has a photo of an astronaut as the background image?