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Webull, the Chinese-owned brokerage that runs one of the fastest-growing retail trading platforms in the U.S., raised US$150 million in a new financing round that gives the startup more firepower to compete with Robinhood Markets.
The fundraising valued Webull’s parent company at more than US$1 billion, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. A Webull spokesperson declined to comment.
The brokerage, founded by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. alum Wang Anquan, has benefited from the surge in trading by individual investors as stock prices soar to all-time highs. Webull has positioned itself as the go-to platform for disgruntled users of Robinhood, whose restrictions last month on highly volatile stocks including GameStop Corp. sparked outrage from some customers and drew criticism from politicians.
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, who has defended his firm’s decisions as necessary to meet clearing demands, is among those scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing about the GameStop saga on Thursday.
Like Robinhood, Webull offers free stock trades with a slick online interface. The Chinese-owned firm has tried to differentiate itself with more sophisticated investment tools and more responsive customer service.
At the end of 2020, Webull said it was receiving an average of about 850 transfers from other U.S. brokerage accounts every day, roughly half of which it estimated came from Robinhood. In late January, as Robinhood came under fire for restricting trades in GameStop, Webull said new account signups were 1,548 per cent higher than the seven-day average.
Wang, who left Alibaba to help run the finance unit at Chinese tech giant Xiaomi Corp. before striking out on his own, founded Webull’s parent company, Fumi Technology, in 2016. He owned a stake of about 35 per cent as of December, according to Chinese corporate registration records. Funds affiliated with Xiaomi owned at least 14 per cent, while a unit of Chinese wealth manager Noah Holdings Ltd. owned about 9 per cent. It’s unclear which investors participated in the latest funding round.
Webull is overseen from New York by Anthony Denier, the firm’s chief executive officer. He said in an interview late last year that Webull was planning to raise more than US$100 million in a funding round that would “bring in very big, well-known U.S. investors” and give the firm “unicorn status.”