- Elon Musk conducted an impromptu interview with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on Sunday night via audio app Clubhouse.
- He asked Tenev about why Robinhood, a trading app, stopped users from trading so-called "meme stocks" such as GameSpot.
- Tenev said it was to do with the company being asked to place a $3 billion deposit after those stocks soared.
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The GameStop stock saga took a new twist on Sunday night when Tesla's CEO Elon Musk unexpectedly interviewed Vlad Tenev, CEO of trading app Robinhood, on buzzy new audio app Clubhouse.
Robinhood was the target of widespread outrage last week when it stopped users from trading stocks for GameStop, AMC, Blackberry, and other so-called "meme stocks" that rocketed over the last week, fuelled by Reddit users.
Musk went on Clubhouse for a wide-ranging interview in which he spoke about his plans to colonise Mars, his neural technology company Neuralink, and his love of memes. At the end of the interview, Musk brought in Tenev, introducing him as "Vlad the stock impaler."
"Spill the beans man, what happened last week? Why couldn't people buy the GameStop shares? The people demand answers and they want to know the details and the truth," Musk asked Tenev.
Tenev said Robinhood had been forced to temporarily stop users from buying those stocks because the surge resulted in a huge deposit requirement of $3 billion from the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC). Robinhood had only raised $2 billion in venture capital, so it spoke with the NSCC to get that requirement reduced to $700 million, Tenev said.
This echoed a statement put out by the company on Saturday.
Tenev said the NSCC's decision-making process for the $3 billion figure was "opaque," so it was hard to know why it settled on that.
Elon Musk responded: "Did something maybe shady go down here?"
Tenev answered he wouldn't say so, and that the NSCC had been cooperative following the initial $3 billion deposit request.
Musk also asked whether Citadel, a major hedge fund and intermediary for Robinhood, could have influenced the NSCC's decision.
"There was a rumor Citadel or other marketmakers kind of pressured us into doing this," Tenev said, "and that's just false."
In response, Musk asked: "But wouldn't they have a strong say in who got put in charge of that organization [NSCC] as it's an industry consortium and not a government [...] regulatory agency?"
Tenev said he didn't "have any reason to believe that [...] then you're getting into the conspiracy theories a little bit."
Musk regularly chipped in during the interview with jokes, including asking Tenev: "Is anyone holding you hostage right now?"
Many of the Reddit traders cited taking on hedge funds with heavily shorted stocks as a motivation for galvanizing meme stocks, and Musk - who has historically attacked short-sellers - has frequently been cited as a sort of folk hero by Reddit day traders.
This wasn't the first time Musk demanded answers from Robinhood. Last week he tweeted in support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said the House Financial Services Committee should hold a hearing on the app.
Robinhood allowed trading of meme stocks to resume on Monday with some restrictions.