How did Robinhood acquire the first 50,000 users, Bobo?
4 min readJun 26, 2021



Bobo Li is a software engineer from the USA and working in the IT industry since 2010. Bobo graduated from California Institute of Technology in 2010 and after that did his internship at Oracle Corporation and Pixar Animation Studios. In 2010 he joined Oracle Corporation as a Member of the Technical Staff. In 2012, Bobo co-created back-end API of Analyst, a social stock recommendation application in python/Tornado at Chronos Research LLC; he was the founding engineer of Robinhood in 2012 and worked as a software DevOps engineer and infrastructure engineer.

Bobo Li

Keynotes of interactive session:

In an interactive session of tech-oriented entrepreneurs, he shared his experience and working at Robinhood, a commission-free stock trading and investing application. Following are the keynotes of his interactive session with aspirant product managers:

  • Telling about how Bobo joined Robinhood, In 2012, Bobo was working at an entry-level engineer job at Oracle. One of his college friends worked previously at a company providing hardware and API research platform for high-frequency trading companies. He offered Bobo to join Robinhood, which was providing free stock trading options to the customers. He joined Robinhood because it felt different to him.
  • In the early days of Robinhood, most of the infrastructure was running directly on EC2 databases (Elastic Compute Cloud by Amazon). The automation was provided by sales talk, configuration management, and orchestration tool.
  • In 2018, the company transitioned to binary technology to keep the system smooth, easy to maintain, and update. This migration is still in progress. The transition of sheer data volume across several servers is a difficult job. The system is split into many parts, so it will take time to update and integrate all working pieces.
  • Bobo and his team designed the back-end system operations like server databases, storage, and API in python/jingo application which covered everything from iteration, market data, and trading in a single application.
  • After two years of launching, Robinhood split the monolith platform into several small bits and pieces. Engineers had to take pieces of the one big model and split them into micro space. Bobo, with his developers, re-wrote each trading system in a new language because python is not easy to handle and improve. Now there are several teams at Robinhood with their specified working domain.
  • The decision to launch cryptocurrency at Robinhood was not so easy. Some of the people at the company were not satisfied and against the feature of cryptocurrency. But the time they collided with the surge in the value of Bitcoin currency. The co-founders decided to create a platform for cryptocurrency, and the time duration for platform development was too short. After that, everyone was on board and worked very hard to complete the project.
  • He told the secret of the extraordinary success of Robinhood is the company mission to provide user independence for investments and take decisions of their financial matters. Today people are interested in investing and trading cryptocurrency. So Robinhood is providing the financial independence that customers want if they want to test and experience crypto by themselves.
  • He shared an exciting twist that made Robinhood famous. It was a post on Hecker news telling people to sign up at Robinhood. At that time, the company was focusing on product development the promotion articles were not published. After that word went out, new users interested in stock trading started signing up rapidly.
  • It was the unique experience and genuineness which promoted Robinhood among the new players of the online trading world. Building an attractive design differentiated this platform. And in a short period, 50 thousand people signed up at Robinhood.
  • He advised the designers to make sure the application is smooth, easy to use, and attractive to the user. So, only publicity is not enough, and it is the customer reviews after having a great experience that is key to success.

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