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ARK Venture Commentary, 10/20/2022

October 20, 2022 | Venture Fund

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

Venture deal-making falls

Third quarter venture deal volume fell 53% year over year to $81 billion[1] according to Crunchbase. Much of the contraction was concentrated in late stage rounds where volumes fell 62% whereas seed and angel investing activity only fell 6%.

ARK’s take

The deal-making slowdown should come as no surprise. Companies with a cash cushion will resist taking money at macro-economically stressed valuations instead opting to cut burn and extend runway. Simultaneously, dealmakers are treading cautiously while they await more macro-economic and market clarity.

The AI explosion continues

In the past month alone breakthrough models have been released that convert text into video,[2] text into 3d objects,[3] and audio into text.[4] Companies are productizing these advances at a similarly rapid clip. With advances in AI, Video editing becomes magical,[5] Workflow automation becomes simple,[6] and custom language models become available at a 1/10th what they cost 2 years ago.[7]

ARK’s take

AI seems to have crossed a tipping point: products are becoming widely accessible; companies are building atop each other’s advances; and companies—large and small—are being forced to either incorporate AI systems into their strategic plan[8] or attempt to concoct defenses against the forthcoming disruption.[9] This is only the beginning. According to our research, we believe the cost to create AI systems will fall 2.5x per year at least through the end of this decade, and innovation will continue to flower.

Mark to market or mark to model?

Though Yale and Harvard, the two largest endowments in the US, reported reasonably stable asset levels through a June 30th fiscal year end, the underlying metrics don’t square with market reality. Yale reported returns of 0.8% while Harvard reported a fall of 1.8%, its results bolstered by a venture portfolio that—on paper—was up “high single digits.”[10] Over the same timeframe the Refinitiv Venture Capital Index was down 56%.[11]

ARK’s take

The lag effect in marking illiquid positions to market is likely to catch up with institutional portfolios by year end as investment managers make fair value adjustments. Indeed, Harvard—at least—seems to be anticipating this. Private equity comprises more than a third of its assets, and the Harvard Management Corporation’s CEO expressed that the end of the calendar year might result in “meaningful adjustments” to those exposures.[12] Remains to be seen how institutional investors react to their least liquid positions being market to reality.

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 www.ark-ventures.com. The prospectus should be read carefully before investing.

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.

Foreside Fund Services, LLC, distributor.

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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