ARK Venture Commentary, 11/11/2022

ARK's Venture Commentary is meant to provide ARK's thoughts on the current state of the Venture Capital space.
by Brett Winton

The IPO Window Cracks Open for Autonomous Tech
Intel raised nearly $900 million by publicly listing Mobileye, its autonomous driving subsidiary, which traded up to a value of $23 billion.[1] That the newly relisted, vision-based driving assistance technology company could command a 14x sales multiple is perhaps a positive sign for markets given the relative paucity of IPO activity this year to date.[2]

ARK’s take
Though the market reception was positive, it’s dangerous to judge a company by its first few weeks given the salesmanship that surrounds a listing. We believe it is probable investors like that the business is generating substantial cashflow and so not subject to financing risk. From our perspective, however, it’s unclear that Mobileye’s technology will be able bridge the gap between driver assistance and true autonomy.

And a Large Autonomous Tech Startup Shuts Its Doors
Argo.AI, a robotaxi startup funded by $2.6 billion from Ford and Volkswagen, announced its dissolution. The company, which employed 2,000, had launched commercial pilots in Miami and Austin earlier this year though uptake and capacity were unclear.[3]

ARK’s take
Like many robotaxi initiatives, Argo relied on a high-definition-mapping, LIDAR-based approach to solving autonomy.[4] Solutions that rely upon high-definition mapping seem to excel in demonstrations but become brittle when confronted with a mutable urban driving terrain. We believe a dead end was perhaps the inevitable result of pairing a strategically challenged technical approach with a pair of legacy auto shareholders.

Will Mark’s Big Metaverse Bet Catalyze an End to Founder Deference?
Meta reported a 46% year over year drop in operating income as a deteriorating revenue line was coupled with accelerating metaverse-related spending.[5] Investors were not pleased, knocking more than 25% off its market cap over the course of a week. Since Mark Zuckerberg’s founder shares retain majority voting control, shareholders have no governance mechanism by which to meaningfully impact corporate strategy; given the indecorous financial results some are questioning the wisdom of the dual class structure.[6]

ARK’s take
Though we disagree with Zuckerberg’s use of funds—specifically regarding his metaverse strategy—we believe corporate structures that allow technology CEOs to aggressively pursue asymmetric opportunities are good for investors and good for the world. In a rapidly changing technological world, companies need to be able to make bold bets, and public equity price signals provide sufficient near-term performance pressure in and of themselves.

In North America, funds raised are down 94% through the first 9 months of 2022:

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ARK Venture Fund before investing. This and other information are contained in the ARK Venture Fund’s prospectus, which may be obtained by visiting The prospectus should be read carefully before investing.

An angel investor is an individual who provides capital for a business or businesses start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. Angel investors usually give support to start-ups at the initial moments and when most investors are not prepared to back them.

An investment in the ARK Venture Fund is subject to risks and you can lose money on your investment in the ARK Venture Fund. There can be no assurance that the ARK Venture Fund will achieve its investment objectives. The ARK Venture Fund’s portfolio is more volatile than broad market averages. The ARK Venture Fund also has specific risks, which are described below. More detailed information regarding these risks can be found in the ARK Venture Fund’s prospectus.

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ARK’s statements are not an endorsement of any company or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security. ARK and its clients as well as its related persons may (but do not necessarily) have financial interests in securities or issuers that are discussed. Certain of the statements contained may be statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements that are based on ARK’s current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance, or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements.

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