Robinhood, the fast-growing brokerage app, announced a surprising deal with Chinese internet giant Baidu to give users of Baidu's Stockmaster finance app access to U.S. equities via Robinhood. The deal gives the young Palo Alto-based company, which also announced that it has more than 1 million users, access to Chinese consumers well before most U.S. tech companies might attempt to reach them. I spoke with co-CEO Vlad Tenev about how the deal came together and why he's made this bet. Here are the five things you need to know about this deal:
• "China has 90 million brokerage accounts, and 80% of them are retail investors. People like trading and interest in the U.S. markets is growing like crazy. We saw an opportunity to seize that."
• "Amy Gu, who helped Evernote China go from zero to 15 million users, introduced us to the team at Baidu." [Robinhood also announced that Gu has joined the company's advisory board.]
• "We own the trading layer. We control the branding."
• "This is not the first time that Chinese customers can create a U.S. brokerage account, just the easiest and fastest."
• "This is not an exclusive deal. We hope to launch our own first-party app into that market." DL