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Robinhood Platform Permits Users to Buy Into IPOs

Robinhood says its 'democratizing IPOs' by allowing users buy into initial public offerings at the IPO price.

Declaring that it was "democratizing IPOs," online brokerage Robinhood said it was rolling out a new platform that will allow users of its trading app to buy into initial public offerings at their IPO price before trading on public exchanges.

The platform, called IPO Access, will roll out gradually over the coming weeks, the company said.

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"Most IPO shares typically go to institutions or wealthier investors," the company said in a blogpost. "With IPO Access, everyday investors at Robinhood will have the chance to get in at the IPO price."

Users will be able find upcoming IPOs from a list of companies that plan to distribute shares to Robinhood. They will also be able to stay up to date on company milestones and read their preliminary prospectus.

"IPO shares can be very limited, but all Robinhood customers get an equal shot at shares regardless of order size or account value," the company said.

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FIGS Inc, which makes medical scrubs, face masks and shields, on Thursday became the first company to offer shares to retail investors through Robinhood, according to a regulatory filing. The company said its reserving 1% of its IPO offering of 22.5 million shares for retail traders.

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Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Robinhood was preparing to reveal filings for its own initial public offering as soon as next week. The company submitted confidential documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission in March.

Robinhood has been a source of some controversy. In January, followers of a sub-reddit known as r/WallStreetBets launched a concerted effort to boost the shares of GameStop  (GME) - Get GameStop Corp. Class A Report and force a short squeeze. 

The resulting volatility sent the shares soaring, but also wound up catching many novice investors on the wrong side of trades as shares plunged. It also drew many more new users to the Robinhood app. 

In February, Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway  (BRK.B) - Get Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class B Report insurance and investment group, criticized Robinhood Markets and its competitors for taking advantage of uneducated investors.