June 18, 2020 / 8:28 PM / 21 days ago

Robinhood reviews options trading offering following suicide by customer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Robinhood Markets Inc said on Thursday it was reviewing its options trading offering following news that one of its customers took his own life after believing he had lost more than $730,000 using the free trading app.

Alex Kearns, 20, died last Friday, leaving behind a note to his family that said he incurred losses trading options on Robinhood and that he had no idea what he was doing when he made the trades, Bill Brewster, his cousin by marriage, told CNBC in an interview.

“He thought he was exposed. He thought that ending his life would protect his family from the exposure,” said Brewster, who is an analyst at Sullimar Capital.

Brewster did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

A spokeswoman for Robinhood said the company would not share any details on Kearns’ account out of respect for privacy and confidentiality.

“All of us at Robinhood are deeply saddened to hear this terrible news and we reached out to share our condolences with the family over the weekend,” she said in a statement.

“We are committed to continuously improving our platform and are reviewing our options offering to determine if any changes may be appropriate.”

Robinhood was founded in 2013 and now has more than 10 million user accounts. Customers at the brokerage, which has been credited with helping usher in commission-free trading throughout the retail brokerage industry, have a median age of 31, the Menlo Park, California-based company said recently.

The company is one of the most valuable venture-backed financial technology startups. Last month it raised $280 million from investors at an $8.3 billion valuation.

Despite its continued popularity, the company has suffered several outages over the last few months, most recently on Thursday.

Reporting by John McCrank and Anna Irrera; Additional reporting by Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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