Vladimir Tenev is a Bulgarian-American billionaire entrepreneur who is the co-founder (with Baiju Bhatt) and CEO of Robinhood, a US-based financial services company.
Tenev was born in Bulgaria, and his parents migrated to the U.S. when he was five. His parents both worked for the World Bank. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia.
He earned a degree in mathematics from Stanford University, where he met Baiju Bhatt. He studied for a mathematics PhD at UCLA, but dropped out to work with Bhatt.
In 2010, Tenev and Bhatt started a high-frequency trading company called Celeris. By January 2011 they abandoned it to create Chronos Research, which sold low-latency software to other trading firms and banks.
In 2013, Tenev and Bhatt co-founded the trading platform Robinhood. Following a funding round in May 2018 which increased Robinhood's valuation to $6 billion, Tenev and Bhatt became billionaires.
GameStop short squeeze
On January 28, 2021, Tenev defended Robinhood's decision to prevent users from buying stock or options in a variety of securities, notably GameStop, during the GameStop short squeeze; the decision had sparked widespread criticism from users of the app as well as politicians in both major American parties. On February 18, 2021, Tenev testified before the United States House Committee on Financial Services regarding Robinhood's role during the GameStop short squeeze. Tenev came under heavy criticism from members of both parties and was criticized for struggling to provide answers to a number of questions.
In the aftermath of the GameStop event, Tenev was interviewed by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who called Tenev "a rat and a liar."
In its July 1, 2021 S-1 fining with the SEC, Robinhood disclosed that the US Attorney's Office had executed a search warrant for Tenev's cell phone as part of a probe into the GameStop short squeeze.