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Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals

One definition of a meme stock: Any publicly listed company whose stock becomes a speculative vehicle beloved of retail investors armed with small-dollar Robinhood accounts. To no surprise, Robinhood itself has now become one of those stocks, just a few days after going public last week.

Why it matters: Robinhood is one of the most high-profile disruptive fintechs to have gone public. There's irony and symbolism to its stock price ceasing to be a reflection of corporate fundamentals and instead becoming a short-term gambling mechanism. But that transformation effectively removes an important valuation signal that investors might otherwise have found very helpful.

How it works: One thing that all meme stocks have in common is that speculators tend to flock to listed call options, rather than the shares themselves. (That's great for Robinhood, which makes far more money from options trading than it does from stock trading.)

  • Options on Robinhood stock started trading Wednesday morning, and within 17 minutes of the market opening, the share price had risen by 71% to $80.19 — more than double the IPO price of $38.
  • The stock closed Wednesday at $70.39, up 112% from its low last week of $33.25.

Our thought bubble: If activity in other meme stocks like AMC and GameStop is any indication, Robinhood shares have a lot of upside from here. That won't reflect fundamentals, but it's undeniably a fun game to play on your Robinhood app.

Go deeper

Bitcoin-based ETF launch marks crypto's new headway in U.S. markets

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Cryptocurrencies made new headway into mainstream U.S. markets today with the launch of a bitcoin-based ETF on the New York Stock Exchange.

Why it matters: The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF, ticker symbol BITO, is the first-ever ETF that gives investors exposure to bitcoin — without needing those investors to actually hold the digital coin.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.