Days ago, our eyes were turned to the stock market as we watched the bizarre GameStop saga unfold. For reasons not entirely known, a group of Reddit users successfully managed to inflate the value of GameStop stock, a previously underperforming company that had low market value. By banding together and buying into GameStop stock, they managed to surge the value 1500%.
Many of these Reddit investors used the Robinhood trading app, a commission -free investment platform that aims to make investing accessible to all. The app came under fire though, when it temporarily restricted transactions of certain popular stock, including GameStop, in an effort to mitigate the market volatility. In a statement on Jan 28, they said “democratizing finance has been our guiding star since our earliest days" which, when paired with their limitations on customers, seemed hypocritical to some.
This move by Robinhood, as well as the increasing media attention around the whole affair, generated a social media storm, which, however, wasn’t always directed at the right place.
A New York City-based charity, also donning the name Robin Hood NYC, was caught up in the story. The anti-poverty charity, which is the largest of its kind in New York City, put out a statement as a reaction to the confusion after people had mistakenly identified them as being the Robinhood trading app; “Robin Hood is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We are not affiliated with any for-profit businesses that use a similar name.”
“We have received an onslaught of inquiries and social media mentions from people mistakenly associating us with a similarly named financial firm,” Courtney Ridgway, the Communications Manager for Robin Hood, said.
Their CEO Wes Moore also took to Twitter to differentiate his organization from the Robinhood trading app.
On their website, Robin Hood NYC states “We partner with over 250 non-profits to support food, housing, education, legal services, workforce development, and more to New Yorkers living in poverty across all five boroughs”. Last year they invested $129 million in over 200 poverty-fighting organizations. Some notable board members include Steve Cohen and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Fortunately though, the organization has seen a bright side, Ridgway tells NBC New York: “The silver lining of this confusion is that it has allowed us to engage in a new audience of people who may not otherwise have known about our work. We’ve experienced a generous uptick in gifts. This generosity is helping New Yorkers who need us most as we navigate the road to our city’s recovery.”
Across the Atlantic, where the original folkloric Robin Hood was born, another organization gained followers and rose to social media fame over the same-name confusion. The World Wide Robin Hood Society in Nottingham, England tweeted: "Lovely to have all these new followers.. 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 .. if so .. a big welcome from Sherwood."
So despite the Robin Hood name confusions and misdirected anger, the mix-up may have helped boost the profile of some previously underappreciated organizations that help contribute to good causes in New York City and keep folklore alive across the world.