SAN FRANCISCO — Robinhood helped propel a “meme stock” frenzy earlier this year that sent stock prices of small companies on a roller-coaster ride. On Thursday, its own initial public offering was far more subdued.
Shares in the stock trading start-up opened trading at $38, the same price as its offering, but then fell. Its offering price, which valued the company at $31.7 billion and was at the bottom of its proposed range, showed that investors may be hesitant to buy into the company’s grand mission of upending Wall Street.
Robinhood’s free stock-trading service has helped create the conditions for wild trading gyrations in so-called meme stocks, which are driven by investors hyping their trades on social media. The company, which has a mission of democratizing finance, also decided to sell as much as a third of its offering to retail traders via its own app, adding to the unpredictability of initial trading.
Its offering is among the largest in a frenzied year for public market debuts, though few of the companies have had the profile and level of controversy — including outages, fines, Congressional hearings, protests and memes — as Robinhood.
The listing shows that there may be limits to investors’ euphoria for I.P.O.s, even amid a blockbuster year for them. The first half of the year saw 213 initial public offerings, more than any full year for the last decade, according to Renaissance Capital, which tracks I.P.O.s. This week alone was set to have 25 companies go public in the United States, making it the busiest in two decades. Instacart, the grocery delivery company, and Nextdoor, the social network, are among those expected to go public later this year.
Vlad Tenev, Robinhood’s chief executive and co-founder, said in an interview that the I.P.O. was a “celebration of the individual investor in America.”
Mr. Tenev emphasized the importance of Robinhood offering a large chunk of stock to its customers. “We’re just mindful that this is an important moment for our customers as well,” he said.
Around 20 percent of the offering was sold to customers, according to a person with knowledge of the offering, which was on the low end of the range Robinhood planned to sell and indicated less interest than expected.