Trading startup Robinhood raises $110 million in new funding round

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Commission-free trading startup Robinhood has raised $110 million in a round led by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s investment group DST Global, valuing the company at $1.3 billion.

Vlad Tenev, co-founder and co-CEO of investing app Robinhood, speaks during the TechCrunch Disrupt event in Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Greenoaks Capital and Thrive Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Josh Kushner, also invested, the company said on Wednesday. Kushner is the brother of Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and son-in-law to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Existing investors Index Ventures, NEA and Ribbit Capital participated in the round, which brings the total raised by the startup to $176 million.

Palo Alto-based Robinhood allows retail investors to buy U.S. stocks and ETFs commission-free, through a user friendly app. It competes with established brokerages such as TD Ameritrade and E* Trade Financial Corp, which charge clients for commissions.

It is part of a growing group of financial services companies that take advantage of digital technologies to lower their operational costs and target a younger generation of investors.

While the company does not charge trading commissions, in September it launched a premium paid account called Robinhood Gold. The $10 per month account gives users added features, such as the ability to borrow more money for margin trading and trade before and after market close.

The company, which was founded in 2013, also makes money from collecting interest from clients’ deposits and from benefits it receives for directing its order flow to certain trading venues.

Baiju Bhatt, Robinhood’s co-CEO and co-founder said that the company had reached 2 million users and was launching a new referral program to further boost its growth.

“The company is continuing to do well and the opportunity to refinance the company was there so we took it,” Bhatt said.

Robinhood plans to expand internationally, but had to slow down some of its plans because of increased geopolitical uncertainty, Bhatt said. He pointed in particular to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Robinhood’s funding round comes as traditional brokerages face fierce competition to lower their fees. In February Fidelity Investments Inc, Charles Schwab Corp and TD Ameritrade made moves to slash their trading commissions.

(This story corrects date of Robinhood Gold launch to September 2016, not earlier this month, in 6th paragraph.)

Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Bernard Orr