Catherine Duddy Wood is the founder, CEO, and CIO of Ark Invest, an investment management firm.
Early life and education
Wood was born in Los Angeles, the oldest child of immigrants from Ireland. Wood's father served in the Irish Army and the United States Air Force, and became a successful radar system engineer who was very detail-oriented and pushed Catherine to discover connections between things. In 1974, Wood graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Los Angeles, an all-girls Catholic high school. In 1981, Wood graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California, with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and economics. One of Wood's professors was economist Arthur Laffer, who became Wood's mentor.
In 1977, via her mentor Arthur Laffer, Wood got a job as an assistant economist at Capital Group, where she worked for three years. In 1980, she moved to New York City to take a job at Jennison Associates as chief economist, analyst, portfolio manager and managing director. She worked there for 18 years. In the early 1980s, she debated Henry Kaufman on why she believed interest rates had peaked.
In 1998, along with Lulu C. Wang, Wood co-founded Tupelo Capital Management, a hedge fund based in New York City.
In 2001, she joined AllianceBernstein as chief investment officer of global thematic strategies, where she worked for 12 years, managing $5 billion. She was criticized for performing worse than the overall market during the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
In 2014, after her idea for actively managed exchange-traded funds based on disruptive innovation was deemed too risky by AllianceBernstein, Wood left the company and founded Ark Invest. The company is named after the Ark of the Covenant; Wood was reading the One-Year Bible at the time. ARK's first four ETF funds were seeded with capital from Bill Hwang of Archegos Capital.
Wood was named the best stock picker of 2020 by Bloomberg News editor-in-chief emeritus Matthew A. Winkler. Wood is known for making bold predictions. Wood received considerable media attention in February 2018 after she stated on CNBC that she believed Tesla stock could reach a price of $4,000 in five years, a 1,100% increase from its price at the time, and reiterated the claim in May 2019 after its price had dropped 29%. While Wood's statement was widely ridiculed at the time, Tesla's price reached her target on a split-adjusted basis two years early in January 2021. In November 2020, she stated she believed bitcoin could reach a price of $500,000.
As of March 2021, two funds run by Wood were on the list of the 10 largest female-run funds by total net assets.