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Robinhood IPO prices shares at $38, for $32B valuation

Shares in the stock-trading app priced at the low end of the expected range.

Robinhood stock trading

Now it's time for Robinhood to start trading.

James Martin/CNET

Robinhood Markets, the company behind the wildly popular investing app, on Wednesday priced its initial public offering at $38 a share, at the bottom of its expected range. The IPO -- one of the most anticipated stock market listings of the year -- values the company at about $32 billion.

Robinhood sold 55 million shares at low end of its expected $38 to $42 range. The company also made the unusual move of selling some of its IPO shares to users of its app.

It will make its trading debut Thursday on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the symbol HOOD.

The app allows users to make commission-free trades on stocks, options and cryptocurrencies, making it especially popular among young people. But the IPO comes as scrutiny over the app continues.

The app was at was at the center of the GameStop saga that captivated financial markets in early February as shares of the video game retailer, cinema chain AMC and BlackBerry surged wildly and crashed, attracting the attention of Congress.

Robinhood made it easier for new investors to open trading accounts by offering no-commission trades and more forgiving loan terms. But it also drew users' ire when it halted GameStop stock purchasing on Jan. 28, accusing the company of market manipulation just as prices began to fall.

Last month, Robinhood agreed to pay about $70 million after financial regulators accused the company of showing false and misleading information to customers.

Robinhood has also had to grapple with publicity surrounding Alex Kearns, a 20-year-old college student who killed himself last June after he believed he had racked up roughly $730,000 in trading losses on the app. The distress caused by the apparent loss and automated responses from Robinhood prompted Kearns to take his life, the lawsuit says.

Robinhood publicly filed for its IPO earlier this month, revealing that it was profitable last year, with a net income of $7.45 million on net revenue of $959 million. Robinhood also said it has about 22.5 million funded accounts on its platform as of June 30.