Ark Investments has a unique origin story. Its founder, Cathie Wood, has said she had a visitation from God telling her to quit her job and put her personal wealth on the line to start her own company. This from a lengthy profile on Woods and Ark Investments in The New York Times.
Wood has had a long career in finance, starting at Jennison Associates in the 80’s and 90’s, and moving to AllianceBernstein in the early aughts. Her double-down approach to investing has produced sharp ups and downs at every firm she’s worked at, including Ark. The company has traditionally favored small and lightly traded tech stocks, and Wood tends to buy highly correlated stocks that go up together – which worked out well last year. But when market conditions turn against her, those stocks also go down together—a risk that didn’t pay off earlier this year when the flagship Ark Innovation fund fell more than 35% between February and May. While recent volatility has helped the fund recover somewhat, it’s still down about 7% for the year.
But that unusual approach has gained Wood a large following who appreciate the combination of high risk with high levels of transparency and take a more YOLO view of their investing than the traditional money management industry. Ark churns out a steady stream of YouTube videos, podcasts, newsletters and white papers so that anyone can follow along with Wood as she constantly buys and sells stock. And on Wall Street, other major firms are looking to entice those investors with more transparency as well, details the article. But as the sole portfolio manager overseeing almost $85 billion in assets at Ark, Wood’s reputation borders on rock-star status. “Many investors would flee Ark if Ms. Wood wasn’t at the helm,” the article tells us. Though some predict her luck may run out soon, Wood continues to look for new opportunities and told Bloomberg News in May, “Keep the faith.”
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