Robin Hood — a charity group that fights poverty in New York City — has been getting a lot of unwanted attention of late, and would like to distinguish itself from the controversial online trading app with the same name, but written as one word.
California-based online brokerage Robinhood Markets angered hordes of individual investors and faced threats of a boycott on social media on Thursday after it moved to curtail purchases of stocks, including GameStop, after individual investors, fueled by online chat rooms, bid them up to stratospheric prices. The private stock-trading company's imposition of restrictions in a way that seemed to benefit big investors at the expense of the little guys drew— and caught Robin Hood the charitable group in the crosshairs of the controversy.
The nonprofit charity, which donated more than $1 million to anti-poverty causes in 2019, has "received an onslaught of inquiries and social media mentions over the past few days from people mistakenly associating us with a similarly named financial firm," a spokesperson said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. "We are in no way affiliated with any for-profit businesses with a similar name."
Robin Hood CEO Wes Moore found himself being harangued on social media due to confusion between his organization and the no-fee brokerage popular with young investors. "Before you continue to harass me on here, someone should tell you I'm the CEO of the antipoverty nonprofit @robinhoodnyc. It has nothing to do with the @RobinhoodApp," Moore stated in one tweet.
Interestingly, the Robin Hood charity was started by hedge-fund pioneer Paul Tudor Jones in 1988. The nonprofit has since expanded into one of the most influential philanthropic groups in New York City. It is largely funded by Wall Street titans who made their riches running hedge funds, private equity firms, asset-management companies, banks and other major institutions in the city's powerful financial services industry. Founder Jones famously cajoles his wealthy colleagues every year into pledging millions in donations to the charity's mission of fighting poverty in New York City, during a star-studded charity benefit.
Those interested in knowing more about the work of the organization and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic can check out its website at www.robinhood.org, the Robin Hood spokesperson noted.
The World Wide Robin Hood Society in Nottingham, England, also found itself getting more eyeballs than usual in the wake of the Wall Street brouhaha. Noting a large increase in followers on Twitter, the society that promotes the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor tweeted a "big welcome from Sherwood" to all its 50K new followers. It then inquired: "Can we just check that you know that you're following the World Wide Robin Hood Society in Nottingham and not the Robin Hood App?"