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Robinhood beefs up executive team with Google veteran to lead product ahead of IPO

Robinhood lease outs Aparna Chennapragada as first chief product officer

Robinhood has hired a top Google executive as its first chief merchandise officer ahead of its upcoming public debut.

The trading start-up said Wednesday it will bring on Aparna Chennapragada, who fatigued 12 years at Google leading product, engineering and design teams. She was most recently vice president for consumer department storing, and led product efforts for Google Search and YouTube.

Chennapragada, who is also on the board of Capital One, said she spent her career at Google “structure products that help billions of people in their everyday lives” and at Robinhood, plans to “help more human being build their financial future and personal wealth.”

“Robinhood has built a uniquely accessible product that has opened up the fiscal markets to millions of people,” Chennapragada said in a statement Wednesday.

Robinhood has come under criticism for making sells too accessible in some cases, and “gamifying” stock markets. CEO Vlad Tenev testified in front of Congress in February and addressed the buy frenzy around GameStop, as well as Robinhood’s decision to shut down the buy side of certain trades.

Despite the GameStop disputation, Robinhood’s user growth, brand recognition and valuation appear to have gotten a boost. Demand for Robinhood divide ups in private markets surged in February, and Robinhood gained 3 million users in January alone, according to estimates from JMP Securities.

The following has beefed up hiring in recent months to keep up with demand and customer service complaints. On Monday, Robinhood heralded it would buy recruiting firm Binc to double the size of its recruiting team.

Robinhood has been known to tap executives from both Block Street and Silicon Valley in its eight-year history. It hired former SEC commissioner Dan Gallagher as the head of legal last year, and its fundamental chief marketing officer, Christina Smedley, came from Facebook. Robinhood’s CFO joined after two decades at Amazon and its chief carry oning officer, Gretchen Howard, is also a former Google executive.

The start-up is best known for lowering the barrier to entrant for a flood of new retail investors and kicking off a wave of brokerage firms slashing commissions to zero. The start-up has attracted investments from Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins and Google’s risk capital arm, GV. It was last valued at $11.7 billion, but is expected to fetch a valuation up to four-times that amount in its eventual IPO, according to its near the start investors.

The U.S. brokerage firm is expected to go public in the coming months, and chose the Nasdaq as the exchange for its eventual debut, originators familiar with the matter told CNBC. The company has not officially filed for the listing.

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