Robinhood warns it could be hurt if interest in Dogecoin wanes

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Commission-free trading app Robinhood warned investors on Thursday that its fortunes may be tied to a cryptocurrency that got its start as a joke.

In revealing its financials for the first time while filing to go public, Robinhood said Dogecoin accounted for 34 percent of its cryptocurrency transaction-based revenue in the first quarter, up from 4 percent in the prior quarter. Any slowdown in demand, it said, could adversely affect its financial results.

“A substantial portion of the recent growth in our net revenues earned from cryptocurrency transactions is attributable to transactions in Dogecoin,” the company disclosed under the risk warnings section of its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“If demand for transactions in Dogecoin declines and is not replaced by new demand for other cryptocurrencies available for trading on our platform, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected,” it added.

Dogecoin reached a peak in early May of about 73 cents per coin as it was cheered on by notable supporters including Tesla CEO Elon Musk. But it started off as a prank in 2013 by a tech marketer who melded two popular Internet themes — cryptocurrency and a the Shiba Inu pup behind the so-called Doge meme — to make a Twitter joke.

“Investing in Dogecoin,” Jackson Palmer tweeted at the time, “pretty sure it’s the next big thing.”

The meme currency, which was then made real by software engineer Billy Markus, has more recently fallen from its recent highs to about 25 cents per coin, but is still up more than 10,000 percent from a year ago, according to data from Coinbase.

Robinhood on Thursday also noted that cryptocurrency transaction-based revenue made up 17 percent of Robinhood’s total revenue in the first quarter, or $87.6 million, compared with just 3 percent, or $4.2 million, a year earlier.

The company launched its crypto trading business, known as RHC, in 2018 and currently lets users trade seven different cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Litecoin.

“RHC’s business may be adversely affected, and growth in our net revenue earned from cryptocurrency transactions may slow or decline, if the markets for Dogecoin deteriorate or if the price of Dogecoin declines, including as a result of factors such as negative perceptions of Dogecoin or the increased availability of Dogecoin on other cryptocurrency trading platforms,” Robinhood went on.

Total crypto assets held on Robinhood grew 23 times over in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago, Robinhood said in its filing. Over the same period, Robinhood’s total revenue increased 309 percent in the period to $522 million.

The explosive growth in Robinhood’s revenue from dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies earlier this year coincided with a rapid run-up in price throughout the crypto market.

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