Robinhood shook up the brokerage business by offering commission-free trades on stocks, exchange traded funds, and cryptocurrencies. Within a few years of Robinhood’s launch, most of Robinhood’s competitors went commission free to compete with Robinhood. The company was founded by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt.
Robinhood has its fair share of critics. Charlie Munger called Robinhood’s business model, “a dirty way of making money.” Warren Buffett has echoed similar opinions. But Robinhood has been successful in attracting millennials to its platform and continues disrupting traditional brokers.
8 things about Vladamir Tenev
1. He was born in Bulgaria but grew up in Virginia
Tenev was born in Bulgaria but his family migrated to the US when he was five. He attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, Virginia. The school is a magnet school and is often rated among the best public schools in the United States. Both his parents worked at the World Bank. His parents maintain a low profile and not much is known publicly about them.
2. He met Baiju Bhatt at Stanford. He dropped out of the Ph.D. program to start a business with Bhatt
Vlad Tenet earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Stanford. He was pursuing a PhD in mathematics at UCLA but dropped out to start a business with Bhatt, who graduated with a master’s degree in mathematics from Stanford. Tenet earned a master’s degree in mathematics from UCLA.
3. Tenet and Bhatt are best friends
Tenet and Bhatt had similar interests and hit it off when they met at Stanford. Both had an interest in finance and trading. For many years, they were co-CEOs of Robinhood before Bhatt stepped down from the position. The two remain close friends despite the challenges at Robinhood.
4. Robinhood was the third company Tenet co-founded with Bhatt
In 2020, Tenet and Bhatt started Celeria, a software company focused on high frequency trading. That business wasn’t a success. In 2011, they started Cronos Research, which created low latency software for trading firms.
5. Tenet co-founded Robinhood in 2013. The app revolutionized stock trading
From the beginning, Tenet and Bhatt shared a passion for trading and finance. That interest came from his parents, both of whom worked at the World Bank. In 2013, they co-founded Robinhood. Robinhood released the mobile app in 2015 which revolutionized trading by offering zero-commission trades. Tenet and Bhatt were co-CEOs of Robinhood until November 2020 when Bhatt stepped down.
6. Controversy followed Robinhood from its early days
The company offered zero commission stock trading but was making money by selling order flows and not getting the best prices for its customers on stock trades. The SEC fined the company for not disclosing how it makes money.
The company has been accused of luring inexperienced and young traders to its platform. The traders, who often don’t understand the complex securities they trade, end up with huge losses.
Tenet took heat for preventing its customers from buying stocks or options in certain securities – especially GameStop – that were heavily shorted. Robinhood was accused of colluding with hedge funds. Tenet testified to Congress that the decision to prevent trading was due to federal clearinghouse deposit requirements.
7. Tenet took Robinhood public at a $32 billion valuation
Robinhood became a public company in 2021 at a whopping $32 billion valuation, making both Tenet and Bhatt billionaires. But the stock quickly came back to earth and both co-founders lost their billionaire status.
8. Tenet is married to entrepreneur Celina
Tenev met Celina while she was studying medicine at Stanford University. Celina and Tenev are married and have a daughter. Tenev prioritizes family time and ensures that he spends time with his loved ones every day. Celina co-founded the defunct telehealth service, Call9. Call9 offered telehealth services to the nursing industry. The company was shut down in 2020 after four years in business.