One often learns what they are made of during challenging times. That lesson was not lost on Robinhood (HOOD) co-founder and CEO Vlad Tenev.
It was just back in August 2022 when the company cut 23% of its workforce after a sharp slowdown in growth following the pandemic meme stock craze. Tenev said it was a pivotal moment for the trading platform that set it up for some of the success — notably on the product front — it's seeing today.
"I think that frankly in 2020 and 2021 when we were dealing with just extreme growth in the face of the pandemic and low-interest rates, we hired a lot of people," Tenev told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). "The focus was on just meeting kind of the immediate needs and ramping up customer support. And I think there is a sacrifice when you take that on."
"The transition to having a leaner operating model, to being scrappier, to do doing more with less — it was a painful transition," Tenev added. "But you can see in the product velocity ... that the business has been much stronger as a result of some of the changes and improvements that we made."
Evidence of that surfaced this week for Robinhood.
The company announced Wednesday that on May 16 it will begin allowing users to trade 24 hours a day during the week on some stocks and ETFs.
The new trading hours run from 8:00 a.m. ET on Monday through 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday. The initial foray unlocks trading on more than 40 stocks and ETFs, including trader favorites such as Apple (AAPL) and Tesla (TSLA).
"Trading should be around the clock," Tenev explained. "It should be untethered from US East Coast working hours. I think this moves it a step forward and really closer to what it should be, which is technology, rather than some brick-and-mortar legacy institution."
Robinhood also disclosed it's eyeing the launch of futures trading by year-end, pending regulatory approval. All of this comes on top of the company's push over the past six months into gold and retirement products.
Meanwhile, the company's cost cuts have led to a few improved quarters for the bottom line.
Robinhood reported revenue grew 47% over last year to $441 million, beating Wall Street expectations for $422 million amid a spike in market volatility. Adjusted operating profits tallied $115 million compared to a loss of $143 million a year ago.
Monthly active users in the first quarter totaled 11.8 million, up from 11.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2022. The company's user count still marked a 25% drop off from last year.
Robinhood stock is up 9% year to date compared to a 7% gain on the S&P 500.
JPMorgan analyst Ken Worthington praised Robinhood for its faster pace of innovation. However, he still rates the stock as Underweight (Sell equivalent) due to several key risks.
"With a robust pipeline and effective promotions, there are things working for Robinhood," Worthington wrote in a client note. "However, we are still cautious on the outlook to attract new users to the platform. While Robinhood continues to invest in new products and capabilities, user growth and engagement remains tepid."