In 2020, Eight Ventures Private Wealth Management launched the Smart Whales model, a proprietary investment model featuring an all-stock portfolio. Developed and managed by Eight Ventures, the Smart Whales model has returned 22.5%/year, inception[1] through 7/31/2023.

Smart Whales: Performance

The chart below details what $1 invested in Smart Whales on 2/18/2020 was worth after the close of trading on 7/31/2023. The chart also includes key comps that largely cover the waterfront.


Model / Index Annualized Performance

(2/18/20 – 7/31/23)

Total Return over Period $100 Now Equals
Smart Whales Model 22.5% 104.7% $205
S&P500 11.1% 43.8% $144
Nasdaq-100 16% 67.1% $167
Russell 2000 (small cap) 7.9% 30% $130
XLE (energy sector) 20.8% 92.1% $192
ARKK Innovation Fund -3.9% -12.9% $87

For those unfamiliar with the data comparing investor returns to those of the broader market, it can be summarized like this: the market beats the majority of active funds and trounces most retail investors. This underperformance is detailed in DALBAR’s Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior report.[2]

Smart Whales: Management Commentary

Year-to-date through July, Smart Whales returned 36.9%. We have used this run up to take some winnings off of the table. For example, we exited Uber, a company that moved into strong profitability to propel solid gains, and we slightly trimmed other tech names with strong gains to redeploy capital in new names.

Despite our buy-and-hold orientation that would be pleased to own names 5-10 years, or even forever, over these three-and-a-half years, Smart Whales has entered and exited several names with nice profits. These include diverse companies such as Wells Fargo, SPSC Commerce and Builders FirstSource, one I wish we still owned.

In review, Smart Whales has been good-night-in-Vegas good at having a chip on innovative companies that were bought out, typically at steep premiums. Since inception, we’ve had nine companies bought out, including SailPoint,[3] Proofpoint,[4] MyoKardia,[5] Alexion[6] and Abiomed.[7] We owned all nine before the takeovers were announced, which made for about nine good Monday mornings.

On the downside, our worst missteps were have having a toe in biotech names that relied more on hopes and dreams than near-term profitability. Three investments there cost us just over nine points of total return since inception.[8] At one point in time, we were up four-fold in a biotech that self-destructed over a poor clinical trial, leaving us with losses and regrets, and leaving me with a dimmer view of small one-trick biotechs.

Smart Whales: At A Glance

Buy-and-hold US equities orientation

  • Strong concentration in a relatively small number of holdings[9]
  • Features U.S. and International investments – universal focus provides wider range of opportunities through market cycles

Diverse Investment Strategies

  • Growth – Strong revenue growth, signaling “better mousetrap”
  • Income – Strong payouts often indicate mature operations with stable cash flows, and can signal durable competitive advantage and wide moat
  • Deep value – Valuation metrics indicate strong cash flow relative to investment


  • Investments represent diverse market capitalizations, industries and trading strategies
  • Provides meaningful deviation from major indices


  • Strong preference for profitable companies with favorable valuation metrics (for example, reasonable P/E & P/B ratios), over against non-profitable growth names

Secular Growth

  • Strong preference for companies operating in sectors experiencing secular growth
  • This preference does not preclude certain deep value opportunities in disfavored industries



[1] 2/18/2020







[8] Total return over period is 104.7%, which would be around 114% but for these losses.

[9] Number of holdings has ranged from 19 to 22 since inception.