ARK Investment Management LLC (ARK), an active manager of thematic Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), announced that the ARK Web x.0 ETF has become the first ETF to invest in bitcoin. ARK has made its investment for ARK Web x.0 ETF through the purchase of publicly traded shares of Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust.
The ARK Web x.0 ETF trades on the NYSE Arca exchange with the symbol ARKW. Securities within ARKW are related to cloud computing, Big Data, sharing services and social media, digital education, wearable technology, data mining, Internet of Things (IoT) and now cryptocurrencies. Like the other ARK ETFs, ARKW can be purchased by investors through various trading platforms, including Fidelity, Schwab and E-Trade.
“We’re believers in bitcoin, the currency, and Bitcoin, the technology platform. We also believe that current prices present an attractive entry point for our investors,” said ARK’s Founder and Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood. “Bitcoin is a disruptive innovation, and, while still in its infancy, interest has been growing rapidly in Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington, D.C.”
Wood founded ARK Investment Management in 2014. In 2013, she completed 12 years at Alliance Bernstein as chief investment officer of Global Thematic Strategies with nearly $5 billion in assets under management and superior long-term investment returns. New York Business Journal notes that ARK has holdings in LinkedIn, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, which says much about Wood’s ability to pick stocks of disruptive technology companies with high potential for growth.
“We’ve been watching [Bitcoin] for a long time, not long after Satoshi Nakamoto, whoever he or she is, designed it,” Wood said to New York Business Journal. “We’re looking at something now that’s stabilized.” Grayscale’s director of sales Michael Sonnenshein added that ARK can’t hold bitcoin directly – because bitcoin is considered as property by the IRS in the United States – but can hold Bitcoin Investment Trust shares. “Rather than them purchase bitcoin directly, the way they can purchase shares of Apple and Tesla, they can buy shares in the Bitcoin Investment Trust,” he said.
In March, Bitcoin Magazine reported that Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust received formal approval for listing on the OTC Markets Group’s OTCQX exchange, with the symbol GBTC. Trading started in the following week.
“We’re excited to receive an investment into the Bitcoin Investment Trust from an innovative firm like ARK,” said Grayscale Founder Barry Silbert. “ARK, a pioneer in the investment community, is in good company. Recent news has highlighted Goldman Sachs, UBS and Citi for their initiatives in the digital currency space.”
“Grayscale is a leader in the bitcoin ecosystem, bridging the gap between digital currency and the broader investment community,” added ARK’s Chief Operations Officer Jane Kanter. “Our investment philosophy is to invest in innovative companies, and we’re glad to be making our own innovative mark within the ETF community.”
Another ETF focused on Bitcoin, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF (COIN) to be launched by the Winklevoss twins, is still going through the regulatory approval process.
The ARK investment signals that Wall Street is ready to accept bitcoin as an investment that, as noted by Wood, is now stabilized. Now, ARKW offers investors – including small investors – who are bullish about bitcoin, but prefer not to hold it directly, the possibility to bet on bitcoin with a traditional investment vehicle that anyone can buy.
It’s worth noting, however, that the considerable increase in Bitcoin adoption and Wall Street incestments in Bitcoin (the technology) in this and last year hasn’t increased the value of bitcoin (the currency). In fact, the price of bitcoin doesn’t grow with adoption – if anything, it goes down. A reason is that bitcoin is not only a speculative investment, but also a currency that is increasingly used to pay for goods and services – you can’t buy a beer with Facebook’s stock, but you can buy a beer with bitcoin. Usually, merchants that accept bitcoin sell it for fiat immediately, which brings the bitcoin price down.
Therefore, investors should bear in mind that the growing adoption of bitcoin by consumers and merchants, and the growing Wall Street investments in the Bitcoin system, don’t necessarily result in an increase in the price of bitcoin and the value of investment vehicles tied to the price of bitcoin, such as GBTC and ARKW.