Robinhood co-founder Baiju Bhatt departs executive role, continues as board member

Rick Steves

Bhatt’s departure marks the end of an era for Robinhood, which he co-founded with Vlad Tenev. Under their leadership, Robinhood pushed the boundaries of traditional finance, challenging established norms and opening the market to a new generation of investors.

Robinhood Markets, Inc. has announced a significant change in its leadership team today. Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Baiju Bhatt, is stepping down from his executive role after more than ten years.

Bhatt, who played a crucial role in the company’s growth and innovation, will continue to contribute to Robinhood as a member of the Board of Directors. In a statement, Bhatt reflected on his journey with Robinhood, emphasizing his commitment to the company’s mission and his work to innovate within the financial industry. As he prepares to explore new entrepreneurial ventures, the Robinhood co-founder assured his continued support for Robinhood’s goals and expressed optimism for the company’s future.

This leadership change comes as Robinhood continues to navigate the dynamic and competitive landscape of financial services, aiming to uphold its commitment to making finance accessible to a broad audience.

Vlad Tenev, CEO and Co-Founder of Robinhood, said: “Baiju and I have been co-founders for over 10 years and friends for over 20. His passion for entrepreneurship and commitment to our mission to democratize finance for all helped build Robinhood from a seed of an idea to the global public company it is today. Baiju played a pivotal role in opening access to the markets for millions of new investors, and I am grateful for all of his contributions to Robinhood over the last decade.”

Baiju Bhatt, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Robinhood, commented: “Since I helped found this company in 2013, Robinhood has been my life. For more than a decade, I have worked tirelessly to drive our mission to democratize the financial services industry for the betterment of society. It has been a privilege to work with some of the most dedicated, creative, and innovative people who have delivered daily for our customers and shareholders. I look forward to remaining a member of the Robinhood Board of Directors and continuing to support our mission. I will have more to share about my next steps soon but know the future has never been so bright.”

Democratization of finance or gamification of trading?

Robinhood’s journey from a startup aimed at democratizing finance to a central figure in a stock market saga has been marked by rapid growth, public attention, and controversy. The platform gained massive popularity, particularly among younger investors, for its user-friendly interface and commission-free trades. However, its role in the meme stock episode, where stocks like GameStop saw unprecedented volatility driven by retail investors, brought Robinhood to the center of a global financial story.

The platform’s decision to restrict trading on certain stocks at the height of the frenzy drew criticism from users and lawmakers alike, leading to accusations of market manipulation and favoritism towards certain financial entities. These events culminated in multiple lawsuits and calls for regulatory scrutiny, questioning the very principles of market fairness and transparency that Robinhood claimed to champion.

In “Dumb Money,” Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, co-founders of Robinhood, are portrayed as billionaires enjoying their wealth while trying to keep the inner workings of their trading platform, Robinhood, secret. The film casts Sebastian Stan as Tenev and Rushi Kota as Bhatt, depicting them in a light that suggests they are somewhat disconnected from the real impact of their actions on ordinary investors using their app. “Dumb Money” delves into the GameStop trading frenzy, showcasing the dramatic ups and downs experienced by retail investors and the pivotal role played by platforms like Robinhood during the event.

The portrayal of Tenev and Bhatt is part of a larger narrative that examines the inequalities and dynamics of the financial world, contrasting the experiences of retail investors with those at the helm of financial institutions and platforms like Robinhood. While the film provides an entertaining and engaging account of the events, it also hints at deeper questions about equity, financial systems, and the role of technology in trading, albeit without delving deeply into the motivations and backgrounds of Tenev and Bhatt beyond their roles in the Robinhood saga​​​.

Bhatt’s departure marks the end of an era for Robinhood, which he co-founded with Vlad Tenev. Under their leadership, Robinhood pushed the boundaries of traditional finance, challenging established norms and opening the market to a new generation of investors. The firm, however, continues to be criticized, sued, and fined for preying on retail users. Earlier this year, Robinhood settled with Massachusetts’ securities regulators and agreed to pay $7.5 million.

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