ARKK Competitor ETF Debuts

Ryan Jacob’s betting that track record can outperform Cathie Wood’s hype.

Reviewed by: Dan Mika
Edited by: Dan Mika

Ryan Jacob has kept his tech-focused mutual funds alive through the dot-com bust, the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis. Now, his firm Jacob Asset Management is bringing his stock-picking calls to the ETF wrapper.

The Jacob Forward ETF (JFWD) launched on Wednesday, trading on the NYSE Arca.

In a statement, the firm said it’s offering the ETF as an entry point for investors who either live outside of the U.S. or are turned off by the relatively higher costs of its mutual funds.

The new fund borrows from the active strategies employed by Jacob’s current mutual funds, including the Jacob Internet Fund (JAMFX) that he started in late 1999 as the markets approached the tech-led crash. However, that fund has recovered to post total annualized returns of 22% over the past 10 years and is up 17% year-to-date.

ARKK Competitor

At first glance, the fund seems pretty similar to the ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK). Both funds are actively managed and seek to buy into companies with the potential to disrupt their industries. They both have a 0.75% expense ratio.

JFWD’s holdings on its debut include DraftKings, CRISPR Therapeutics AG and Fate Therapeutics, mirroring some of the positions held by ARKK.

In an interview, Jacob admits there are plenty of similarities between his new fund and ARK’s $23 billion flagship ETF. But he argues that his new fund is backed by something that Wood’s funds don’t have: his history of performance over multiple financial crises.

“(ARK) really only had one bear market, which was the COVID bear market. And it was very severe, but it was also very quick. So, I don't know if it was a great test of their portfolio,” he said.

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Dan Mika is a reporter for He has previously covered business for the Ames Tribune and Cedar Rapids Gazette in Iowa, and BizWest Media in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dan holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Truman State University.