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LiDAR is a No Go for Nissan

Follow Tasha on Twitter @tashaARK


This week Nissan chose not to use LiDAR for autonomy. Tetsuya Iijima, General Manager of advanced technology development for automated driving at Nissan, said that “lidar lacks the capabilities… of the latest technology in radar and cameras”. While Nissan may be siding with Tesla on this decision, its approach still is not in line with Tesla’s long-term vision.  Nissan is using high definition maps, for example, while Tesla is not using any base maps for autonomous driving.

That said, Tesla appears to be gaining support for its decision to use cameras and radar for autonomous driving. While LiDAR might increase accuracy, autonomous path planning with a slightly degraded sensor set could be the superior solution. After all, DeepMind reminds us continuously that the pace of improvement in artificial intelligence may surprise us all.



Electric Vehicles Already Are Cheaper Than Gas-Powered Cars Based on Total Cost of Ownership

Follow Sam on Twitter @skorusARK


While last month ARK published a piece highlighting that the Model 3 is cheaper to own than a Toyota Camry,  this week we analyzed EV costs compared to those of gas powered cars. As measured by cost per mile, EVs are becoming more competitive every year because gas powered cars have stabilized at roughly $0.70 per mile. We believe that today, EVs are more competitive on a cost per mile basis than gas powered cars, and the gap will continue to widen. The most important variable today is the upfront cost of the vehicle but, as autonomous vehicles launch and proliferate, increased utilization will help to amortize the upfront cost of the vehicle.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 10.55.26 AM

As shown below, the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is falling at an accelerated pace. It took 84 years to roughly halve the price of the 1915 Detroit Electric and, since GM’s 1996 EV1, it’s taken only 24 years to halve the price of an electric vehicle for a second time. According to ARK’s research, EVs will be comparable to gas-powered cars on a sticker-price basis by 2022.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 10.57.09 AMSource: ARK Investment Management LLC, Data Sourced From: Improved Detroit Electrics Lower in Price


Mobile Value Transfer Applications Are Scaling

Follow Max on Twitter @mfriedrichARK


The majority of successful mobile value transfer applications[1] have gained scale by acquiring new users cheaply thanks to large existing customer bases and network effects. For companies without existing users and network effects, scaling will be costly and difficult.


As can be seen in the chart below, many of today’s mass-scale mobile value transfer applications were built on the back of large existing customer bases. From Alibaba in China to LINE in Japan and Grab across Southeast Asia, directing existing users to new products offered by companies they trust has been quite productive.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 10.51.32 AM

That said, low customer acquisition costs also can be achieved by network effects, as has been the case with Paypal’s Venmo and Square’s Cash App in the US. Both applications have benefited from low acquisition costs, so much so that Digital Wallet companies such as Venmo and Cash App are able to acquire users for as little as $20.


Mobile value transfer applications that can’t leverage existing user bases often rely on external events or expensive incentive structures to reach scale. India’s adoption of Digital Wallets, for example, gained momentum when the demonetization in late 2016 shocked the economy and galvanized mobile payment platforms, as discussed in this week’s FYI Podcast. Such economic “shocks” are not necessary, however, as illustrated by PayPay, an upstart mobile payment company in Japan that increased adoption with generous cash back rewards.


[1] Includes payments and peer-to-peer transfers via mobile applications



Bitcoin Is Dominating the Cryptoasset Ecosystem Once Again

Follow Yassine on Twitter @yassineARK


Bitcoin’s (BTC) price pierced $8000 this week for the first time in nearly a year, pushing its market cap to $130 billion and the crypto market cap to $200 billion. As highlighted by Placeholder’s Chris Burniske, the beginning of a bull market often starts with BTC, as the majority of “alts” drop in response to BTC’s role as the main liquidity provider. In the last month, bitcoin’s network value or market cap increased to 60% of the entire cryptoasset ecosystem and 70% of the top 10 cryptoassets. At the same time, the top 10 coins underperformed bitcoin by 30%, as shown below.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 10.59.30 AM 

Market cap dominance, however, often skews in favor of less liquid coins as the calculation includes the fully diluted supply of coins, instead of circulating coins. The more relevant metric might be base layer transaction volumes and, as shown below, bitcoin accounts for more than 75% of on-chain transaction volume.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 11.02.30 AM

Bitcoin’s apparent dominance of value settled at the base layer should come as no surprise. As was highlighted in ARK Disrupt Issue 139, Bitcoin’s transaction volume surpassed $1 trillion in 2018, twice the volume of Paypal’s network and within an order of magnitude of Visa’s.



The Gig Economy is Big and Getting Bigger

Follow Nick on Twitter @GrousARK


This week Fiverr, an online marketplace for freelance work, filed for an IPO. Founded in 2010 in Tel Aviv, Fiverr is an online platform enabling people to buy and sell digital services as easily as they buy physical goods. Offering services for $5, Fiverr has grown into one of the leading online marketplaces for freelance work. Today, it offers more than 200 service categories and has served millions of customers.


As one of the oldest and most well-established companies in the gig economy, Fiverr has seen increased competition recently. Public since October, Upwork, one of Fiverr’s largest competitors, allows customers to post job listings on which freelancers can bid.  In contrast, freelancers on Fiverr post their service offerings, giving potential users choices on the two sites.


The good news for both Fiverr and Upwork is that the gig economy is growing, with plenty of room for both companies. According to one study, freelance work impacts approximately 35% of the U.S working population today and could grow to more than 50% by 2027.


Metagenomic Analysis of the Microbiome Builds a Foundation for New Diagnostics

Follow Simon on Twitter @sbarnettARK


Recent studies exploring the relationship between the human microbiome and the onset of disease have encountered many research obstacles. These obstacles have motivated new meta-analysis of microbiome data.


A new study related the number of orthologs to specific diseases. Orthologs are genes that are similar functionally but can exist in different bacterial species. Fewer orthologs suggest less genetic diversity in the microbiome—a common sign of disease, specifically Crohn’s and Cirrhosis.   


Based on this information, the researchers used machine learning to develop a diagnostic tool that analyzed microbiome data and isolated disease types, with impressive accuracy. Molecular clarity around the functional genomics of the microbiome could point the way to new diagnostic and therapeutic agents.

ARK's statements are not an endorsement of any company or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security. For a list of all purchases and sales made by ARK for client accounts during the past year that could be considered by the SEC as recommendations, click here. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities in this list. For full disclosures, click here.



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