FTT Update: Who Had 'Reddit Flashmob' On Their Bingo Card?
Hi all, Julie here. What a week. What a month. What a crazy time to be alive. Global pandemic, Reddit flashmobs attacking hedgefunds. I'm never trying to predict anything ever again. Before diving into the news, I will tell you that you'll all be getting a stellar essay from Cokie tomorrow. And then our premium subs will be receiving a deep dive into challenge banks from me on Sunday.
I mean, I really wish I could start the newsletter with something other than Robinhood since my head has been spinning nonstop from this saga, but alas. For those that haven’t been following along here’s the TLDR: Robinhood's $0 fee structure had led to a surge in retail trading surge. The internet made it possible to exchange a lot of ideas together. Thousands of people exchanged the idea to squeeze short sellers in Gamestop and a few other stocks. These stocks went bonkers and the Reddit traders won the tug of war with the hedge funds. But then Robinhood and some other brokerages halted the ability to buy these shares, sending stocks tumbling. Reddit traders and others are very upset with Robinhood.
Having fun yet? Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev went on every major news network last night to talk about this. Here are a few clips. Now, I like giving Robinhood shit as much as the next guy, but I don’t think what they did was illegal. Was it ethically correct? Almost certainly not. And they’re their own worst enemy since they played a big role in this whole thing happening in the first place. So, I don’t feel bad for them. I’m ready to move on from this part of the saga and see how regulators end up responding. Because per usual, regulators are playing catch up.
FTT Expert John Collins had a great write up on this Thursday night for our premium subs. Here's a glimpse:
"Online trading platforms like Robinhood and others, with really slick UX’s and marketing, brought a younger generation of investors and an old generation of investors like millennials (Me, hello). In this case it, along with online communities and social media, enabled the crowdsourcing of a position larger and opposite a massive hedge fund. And...they won. Pretty crazy."
Brazilian Challenger Bank Goes Wild
In the midst of all of this, Latin American challenger bank NuBank raised a massive round of funding, bringing its valuation to $25B. With more than 34 million users, the startup has seen incredible growth since its 2013 launch as a credit card. Now a full service bank expanding beyond its home market of Brazil, it was adding 41,000 new customers a day as of last September. Basically, it’s a beast. Brazil ended up being a really smart market to launch in since the government has acted favorably to them, vs other geographies like the US where regulators aren’t as big of fans. Or areas like Europe where there just doesn’t seem to be a large enough user base to make it work as well.
Savings Loterry Is A Hit
Yotta, a savings account app where users have a shot to win up to $10M in prizes, announced a $13.2M round led by Base10 Partners with participation from Y Combinator, Core Innovation Capital, and Slow Ventures. Instead of earning interest, users win prizes. And for a fun twist, Adam Moelis is a co-founder. Name sound familiar? Ken Moelis is his father. In an interview with Forbes, he said Yotta users will have roughly 8M tickets this week, for a total of $200 million deposited. The most common winning amount is going to be in the 10-20 cent range. Since the company launched in July of last year, 130,000 people have signed up to Yotta, 90,000 have a balance in their Yotta account, and 60,000 have a ticket this week.
**Full disclosure: I worked at Slow Ventures over the summer and helped them analyze Yotta for a potential investment.
European Challenger Bank Falls Flat
Speaking of banks, savings accounts etc, German digital bank N26 announced that it has hit 7M users. Unfortunately for them, they announced it the same day that NuBank announced a massive funding round and 34M users. Also unfortunately for N26, its 2019 accounts suggest it’s paying a high price for those accounts too. According to a report from Sifted, a media site for European entrepreneurs, N26 saw global operational losses grow to €217M in 2019, a 210% hike on the previous year. This is despite having doubled its revenues from €43M to €100M in 2019, according to a press briefing.
Bitcoin and the World's Richest Person
Two things in the crypto world. First, Coinbase officially announced a proposed direct listing. Second, Elon Musk drove up the price of Bitcoin Friday morning. The world’s richest person changed his Twitter bio to “Bitcoin,” and sent Bitcoin from ~$32K to ~$38K.
Today I am using this section to simply highlight some of my favorite Robinhoood, Reddit Twitter takes.
David McDonough of CommonStock:
Jill Carlson of Slow Ventures:
Brandy Jenson, who I do not know but want to:
Saira Rahman of HMBradley:
Nik Milanovic of Google:
As always, here are two fintech jobs we're highlighting today!
Director of Sales, Argyle: This Series A fintech infrastructure company is hiring a Director of Sales. Argyle provides companies access to consumer-permissioned employment data in real-time. In this role, you will manage Argyle’s most strategic enterprise customer relationships, and act as a leader within the organization to build a repeatable sales playbook. Ideal applicants should be product-focused, with 5+ years of enterprise sales or business development experience.
Senior UX Designer, Gig Wage: Our friends over at Gig Wage are adding a UX Designer to their development team. Its suite of payments and banking web and API products are ready for refinement and redesign in preparation for scale. This role comes with the opportunity to help define and structure the design and iteration process for a strong outcome-driven cross functional team. If you're someone who understands that the user experience touches all aspects of the customer journey and seeks to understand the user holistically, then Gig Wage wants to hear from you. 5+ years of experience in B2B, API, and UI, and preferred.
That's all for today. Who knows what we'll encounter in the first week of February, but you'll probably want to stick with us for this wild ride.
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Julie VerHage is the co-founder of Fintech Today, where she focuses on editorial content and brand. Prior to joining, she was Bloomberg’s first fintech reporter, covering Robinhood from before it was a billion dollar company, breaking the news that Plaid was acquiring Quovo, and interviewing executives on Bloomberg TV and at several large conferences.