ARK Disrupt Issue 112: Electric Vehicles, GPUs, and CRISPR

Please enjoy ARK Disrupt Issue 112. This blog series is based on ARK Brainstorming, a weekly discussion between our CEO, Director of Research, thematic analysts, ARK’s theme developers, thought leaders, and investors. It is designed to present you with the most recent innovation takeaways and to keep you engaged in an ongoing discussion on investing in disruptive innovation. To read the previous issue, click here.

1. Dyson Faces the Realities of Producing Electric Vehicles

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DysonDYS made headlines last fall when it announced that it would launch an electric vehicle (EV) powered by solid state batteries by 2020.  Solid state has been a long-promised answer to the constraints that lithium-ion batteries face today, offering higher energy density, longer lifespans, and faster charging. While BoschBOSCHLTD, ToyotaTM, and several other OEMs have been working on solid state batteries for some time, Dyson seemed to be stepping up the timeline last fall.

Last week, the Financial Times released a report that shed more light on Dyson’s efforts. Apparently, it is planning three EVs, the first of which will not include solid state batteries, by 2020. While backing away from its aggressive timeline for solid state batteries, Dyson does have the potential to integrate its manufacturing operations vertically, much like Tesla has done, including batteries and motors.

Focused on solid state batteries by 2020, Dyson may be at the leading edge of battery technology, but it is unlikely to lead the autonomous vehicle movement, more dependent on software, which will be gaining traction at that time.

2. GPU Prices Have Doubled Thanks to the Frenzy in Crypto

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Crypto mining has proven so popular that it has caused a worldwide shortage of GPUs, so much so that the WSJ reports that little supply has been left for PC gamers. For example, Nvidia’sNVDA GeForce 1080 Ti GPU, which launched last year for $700, now sells for $1,400 online. As a result, Nvidia’s gaming revenue surged 29% on a year over year basis to $1.7 billion during the fourth quarter of last year.

While a boon for Nvidia in the short term, crypto mining may not be a viable source of its revenue in the long term. Ethereum is changing its core algorithm from proof-of-work to proof-of- stake, potentially obviating the need for mining and GPUs. While GPUs will be used to mine other coins, their wild popularity based on Ethereum, the second most valuable cryptoasset today, may prove fleeting.

3. CRISPR CAMERA Could Identify Mutations and Cut Off Disease at the Pass

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While CRISPR-Cas9 has been touted as the molecular editor of the century, reprogramming mutations and curing disease, it could play just as important a role in the future as it records molecular events and coaxes cells down pathways to avoid disease states. Lead scientist of the Broad Institute, David Liu, describes a new CRISPR protocol known as the CRISPR-mediated analog multi-event recording apparatus (CAMERA), which acts as a cellular ledger recording shifts in cell as they respond to different stimuli.

CAMERA uses CRISPR’s core capability, making permanent changes in DNA, and then records the events in a cell’s history. In the Broad Institute’s study, CAMERA recorded the impact of antibiotic, nutrient, viral, and light exposure on bacterial and mammalian cells and then played back the cells’ histories with sequencing techniques.

While in the short term CAMERA could serve as a biosensor detecting environmental pollutants and water toxicity, longer run it could determine cell fate decisions in stem cells. Understanding why a stem cell turns into a brain cell or why a healthy cell turns cancerous has been a bit of a mystery, but molecular recording could unveil the root cause of such changes, potentially preventing diseased states or coaxing cells down certain pathways to avoid diseased states.

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.