Several angry users of the Robinhood investor app threw dog feces at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters and damaged a sculpture during a protest following the startup’s limitation of GameStop stocks earlier this month.
Police have documented at least 10 instances where ticked off app users went to Robinhood’s Menlo Park, Calif., HQ over the past two weeks as GameStop trading went off the rails, CNBC reported on Thursday.
The financial news outlet noted further that some app users showed up at the company’s doors after failing to make contact through customer service in order to get questions answered about the temporary trading halt.
“A total of ten reports from January 28 to February 9 obtained by CNBC detail frustration with the trading start-up,” the outlet noted. “Some customers attempted to explain account issues to security guards outside the one-story, nondescript building in the Bay Area suburb, and were given a paper form to fill out.”
Police said there had never been an incident at the company HQ prior to late last month following the GameStop incident, CNBC reported.
A spokesman for Menlo Park Police said that at one point, about 15 people showed up to protest outside Robinhood, with one male suspect throwing a t-shirt at a security guard. Another suspect damaged a sculpture with a saw, and a third man threw what appeared to be dog feces at the front door of the building.
The app was accused of acting in collusion with hedge fund billionaires late last month in a bid to drive GameStop shares back down after it skyrocketed following an attempt to short the stock.
The stock began to rise after a large group of ordinary investors who belonged to a now-deleted chat room, Wall Street Bets, noticed that the stock was being shorted and began to buy enough shares to drive the price up. The effect was that hedge funds who ‘shorted’ the stock using shares borrowed at far lower prices stood to lose billions at the inflated prices. Robinhood’s action of temporarily banning trades of GameStop shares was heavily criticized by app users as well as politicians from both parties who saw it as a blatant attempt to protect hedge funds at the expense of ordinary investors.
Within days after the intervention, dozens of app users in several states including California, Texas, Florida, and New York filed suit alleging that the company violated its own contract by restricting trading on Jan. 28.
The result was an immediate contraction of GameStop stock by 372 percent, falling to $126.01 a share from a high of $468.49.
“We look forward to seeking justice for consumers and holding Robinhood to account for its conduct last week,” Jason Rathod, an attorney representing some California clients, told The Wall Street Journal.
In a blog post following the trade suspension, Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev placed blame on a financial clearinghouse firm that makes sure trades are processed. The clearinghouse sought $3 billion on the morning of Jan. 28 in order to ensure the trades through Robinhood’s app were covered after determining them to be potentially hazardous.
“My money is currently held hostage by Robinhood, I can’t get it out,” app user Rayz Rayl, who noted he drive more than 2,400 miles to the company’s HQ, told CNBC.
The network went on to report that Rayl was eventually contacted by Robinhood customer service, which helped him regain access to his account.