(Bloomberg) -- Robinhood Markets Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vlad Tenev defended his firm’s retail investor base, saying that the meme-stock surge in January boosted companies battered by the pandemic.

Stocks like GameStop Corp. and companies in industries hit hard by Covid-19, including U.S. airlines, attracted many small investors, who helped firms raise much-needed capital at the time, Tenev said at a CNBC conference on Thursday.

“You could argue, you know, the government hasn’t stepped in to help them in this difficult time and retail investors have come in and supplied them with capital and allowed them to grow their management teams,” Tenev said.  

Tenev didn’t specify where authorities fell short. Several aid programs were enacted during the Biden and Trump administrations aimed at helping companies and industries stay afloat during pandemic shutdowns.

Robinhood rose to notoriety after users piled into meme stocks earlier this year, pushing up share prices well beyond their usual trading bands. At least one company, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., used the higher valuations to raise capital.

When asked whether Robinhood will add the Shiba Inu coin to its crypto trading platform, Tenev did not say what the company has planned. Coinbase Global Inc. added the token last month. 

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