Hi, welcome to your Weekend!
Cathie Wood isn’t just an investor—she’s a Rorschach test in cat-eyed glasses. There are few portfolio managers more argued over than the Ark Invest chief. But what I find most fascinating about the woman some call “Crazy Cathie” isn’t her contrarian stock picks or her out-there economic predictions, but her unusual path to prominence.
Now 67, Wood never expected to become finance-famous, she tells Michelle Celarier in this week’s cover story. Rather, it was a perfect storm of events—a prescient bet on Elon Musk’s Tesla, an early enthusiasm for crypto and an unprecedented run-up in tech stocks during the pandemic—that made Wood such a revered, and later reviled, figure within financial circles.
As Michelle reports, Wood is still sticking with Musk, buying up private shares in an ever-more volatile Twitter. Will hitching her wagon to such a bizarre horse eventually run her into a ditch? Will her Ark Innovation ETF ever come storming back (it’s down nearly 62% is 2022)? Is Wood correct that we’re about to enter a new Roaring ’20s? It’s going to be fascinating to find out.
Now onto this weekend’s stories...
the big read
The Passion of Cathie Wood: Why the ‘Wackiest Portfolio Manager on Earth’ Isn’t Losing Faith
In 2019, no one knew the name Cathie Wood. Now, for better or worse, everyone in finance is talking about her. The founder, CEO and chief investment officer of Ark Invest has been both lauded and ridiculed for her staunch belief in Elon Musk—and for her pie-in-the-sky forecasts for a wide variety of pandemic-boom companies. Michelle examines how Wood is braving this dicey moment—and why her faith in Musk (“our Thomas Edison”) remains unwavering.
Shein Confusion: The Fast-Fashion Giant’s New Resale Site Doesn’t Make Buying Easy
Would you shop for fast fashion second-hand? Annie tries out Shein Exchange, the e-commerce brand’s foray into the bustling resale market. On its face, the platform seems like a good idea, given the ongoing controversies over Shein’s cheap, disposable, landfill-clogging apparel. But there is something distinctly off about the brand’s effort to sell used clothes.
A Billionaire Couple Goes for Broke: How John and Laura Arnold Plan to Give It All Away
Abe catches up with two of the country’s most active philanthropists: the Arnolds, who both quit their careers a decade ago to devote themselves full-time to giving. Now the former hedge funder and ex-M&A lawyer are putting a whole lot of money into a cause that’s likely to upset their fellow megadonors—reining in donor advised funds, the few-strings-attached tax shelters favored by tech billionaires.
into the metaverse
I Wrote This Article With the Quest Pro
Ryan Broderick has spent the last month in mixed reality. The tech journalist has been testing the Quest Pro, Meta’s new $1500 VR headset, which he used as both an addition to and a replacement for a personal computer. (He even wrote this story with it!) Though the Quest Pro is an exciting and innovative piece of consumer technology, Ryan is still not sure Meta understands what to do with it.
Watching: Acid-trip sci-fi
Last week, I went full stream ahead on a binge of “1899,” Netflix’s new mind-melting sci-fi series that’s equal parts “Titanic,” “The Matrix” and “Inception.” Technology has an overt role in the show, with much coding and hacking going on. But just as fascinating is the cutting-edge tech that allowed the series to get made: the rear projection-style digital special effects that Disney first pioneered for “The Mandalorian.” After you go all the way down the “1899” rabbit hole, be sure to watch the very worthwhile “making of” episode at the end of the season. —Abe
Noticing: Another step toward the Singularity
If you thought Dall-e 2 was freaky smart, just wait until you try Open AI’s latest brainchild, Chat GPT3. The chatbot uses GPT3, an autoregressive language model, to respond to text-based questions instantaneously, with a shocking level of contextual awareness. Want a simple definition of natural language processing? You’ve got it. Wondering how to get rid of Vladimir Putin? The bot has some thoughts. Chat GPT3 works exceptionally well for technical questions, like solving math problems or debugging code—but it can also be pretty funny. On Twitter, I saw people using it to generate interior design ideas, write an episode of Seinfeld, and imagine a rap battle between Sam Bankman-Fried and Changing Zhao. (It’s actually fire?!) If that doesn’t convince you that AI will soon run the world, I don’t know what will. —Arielle
Reading: A real life Truman Show
For the last 390 nights, hundreds watched Twitch streamer Emilycc while she slept. And as she woke up. And when she ate lunch, hung out with friends and ran errands. For Buzzfeed, Kelsey Weekman details how the streamer, known only as Emily, broke the record for longest running Twitch stream, broadcasting her every move, 24/7, to 130,000 followers. While other streamers do stunts, Emily prefers to just hang out, playing video games and chatting with followers. It’s a lucrative way to pass the time: While the stream is free to watch, Emily’s fans can subscribe for $4.99 a month to gain access to her Discord and Snapchat. But the fascinating part isn’t the stream itself—it’s the logistical hell of her own making. Emily leaves a party if the reception’s bad, won’t board a plane for fear of losing service and has ruled out dating entirely. If you haven't tuned in yet, not to worry—Emily is planning at least 340 more days of banal streaming to come. —Margaux
Following: AI portraits through the ages
Generative AI isn’t just scooping up venture capital dollars these days—it’s also blowing up my TikTok. This week, my feed was littered with videos featuring My Heritage, an Ancestry-like platform with an “AI time machine” based on Stable Diffusion. After uploading 10 to 25 photos of themselves, users react as the AI spews out depictions of them in different eras. Here’s one Tiktoker, @zzhilton, as a Viking, a 17th century French aristocrat, a World War II nurse, a 1970s hippie and more. The results are often stunning but the “fails” are perhaps even more entertaining—think lots of misshapen hands and eyeballs and occasionally a random man photo-bombing the background. —Annie
Makes You Think
That is one messed up Wrapped.
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.
Weekend Editor, The Information