The race to be the Republican nominee in next year’s presidential election is heating up, and Vivek Ramaswamy is emerging as a key candidate.
But this charismatic but politically inexperienced candidate is something of an unknown quantity to most Americans, with most perhaps only gathering that he’s an incredibly wealthy businessman who hates everything “woke”.
Of course, this sounds a little bit like a certain former President, so the combination could propel Ramaswamy into the White House. Indeed, some polls have him tied in second place in the race with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose campaign has gotten off to a sluggish and chaotic start.
Facing off against Donald Trump may be a bridge too far, but Ramaswamy has undoubtedly made a name for himself over recent months and is becoming an influential force in his own right.
So, who is Vivek Ramaswamy and what have been his most important business ventures?
Who is Vivek Ramaswamy?
A successful entrepreneur and outspoken anti-woke activist, Vivek Ramaswamy has risen to prominence by running in the Republican Primary.
Born in Ohio to Indian immigrant parents, Ramaswamy’s stellar academic credentials include a degree in biology from Harvard and a Doctor of Law from Yale.
He’s changed his political allegiances a little over the years, having been a self-professed libertarian in college and declining to vote in most Presidential elections throughout his adulthood.
You might even have heard of Ramaswamy before he entered the political limelight, as the Harvard graduate has penned a number of books that rail against “woke” culture. These include:
Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam.
Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence
Capitalist Punishment: How Wall Street Is Using Your Money to Create a Country You Didn't Vote For
But we’re here to discuss this candidate’s business career, though there are plenty of strong anti-woke themes in Ramaswamy’s professional life too. Let’s find out how he worked his way up…
How Did Vivek Ramaswamy Make His Money?
According to Forbes, Vivek Ramaswamy’s net worth is more than $950m. He has amassed this fortune through several different ventures. These ventures started back in his college days…
Campus Venture Network
Along with fellow student LiveRamp Holdings (NYSE: RAMP) founder Travis May, Ramaswamy founded Campus Venture Network in 2007 while at Harvard. The social media site was intended to provide networking opportunities to university entrepreneurs.
Through its website at studentbusinesses.com, the company operated with students at Harvard, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Yale University and even to India.
The business was sold to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for an undisclosed amount in 2009.
Roivant Sciences (NASDAQ: ROIVW)
Ramaswamy co-founded this UK-based biotechnology company in 2014, with the goal of developing and delivering medicines to consumers at a faster pace than the market norm.
Since then, the business has assembled a portfolio of more than 20 subsidiary companies, which have collectively conducted 10 positive phase 3 trials.
These portfolio companies notably include Genevant, along with Arbutus (which we will discuss in more detail later). Genevant has been engaged in litigation against Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech over patent infringement claims relating to their COVID-19 vaccines.
Winning these cases could result in some serious damages for Genevant and, by extension, Roivant.
What’s more, Roivant had its first commercial product launch in 2022, when plaque psoriasis treatment cream VTAMA became available.
The stock has performed well this year, rising in price by 82% since the start of 2023 after being buoyed by a series of positive news. For example, late June saw the company unveil strong long-term data for its midstage ulcerative colitis therapy, RVT-3101.
Even so, the business is not yet profitable. However, with the possibility of more product launches to join VTAMA in the future, Roivant Sciences could see significant revenue growth and close the gap on profitability.
But this growing biotech outfit isn’t Ramaswamy’s only business venture.
Strive Asset Management
2022 saw Ramaswamy co-found Strive Asset Management, which has attracted investment from prominent right-wing thinkers and activists such as Peter Thiel and JD Vance.
This is because the company has positioned itself as an "anti-woke" and "anti-ESG" asset management outfit. The idea is that investment companies should be purely focused on returns for their clients, rather than getting bogged down in the minutia of ethics.
Indeed, Strive states on its website:
“When the time comes for you to purchase Strive products and solutions for yourself, your clients, or the institution you represent, you can do so with the confidence that our sole obligation is to the financial interests of our clients and that we will always prioritize the shareholder over other stakeholders.”
Strive has even launched a series of anti-ESG ETFs, such as the Strive US Energy ETF. This is rather appropriately traded under the ticker symbol DRLL.
In short, it's an asset manager which has pretty firmly picked a side in the so-called “culture war” that seems to be having such a strong influence on American politics.
Ramaswamy left his role at Strive in early 2023, choosing to focus on running to be the Republican Presidential nominee.
Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ: ABUS)
Canadian biopharmaceutical company Arbutus, formerly known as Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, is another stop in Ramaswamy’s story.
He served as chairman of the company’s board following a merger with OnCore Biopharma, Inc , with the two businesses having joined forces in 2015 with the goal of creating a new leading global hepatitis B virus company.
Arbutus has not fared quite so well as Roivant this year. Its share price notably suffered in the Spring when the US Food and Drug Administration placed a clinical hold on its Investigational New Drug application for experimental therapy candidate AB-101.
Today, Ramaswamy’s Roivant is the company’s largest shareholder, with a 23.8% stake in the business.
Will Ramaswamy's Run Benefit These Companies?
Ramaswamy clearly has broad experience across the investment and biopharma spaces, having been involved in a number of successful businesses. Even though he has largely left frontline roles at the likes of Roivant and Strive, his rising profile could be advantageous for the businesses in the future.
While it's maybe a little challenging to see what this higher profile will do for Roivant and Arbutus, Strive's anti-woke positioning is so in tune with Ramaswamy's political messaging that it seems likely the asset manager will be able to attract more investors who are looking to disregard ESG concerns.
After all, Donald Trump's rise to the presidency has hugely elevated the Trump brand and given rise to associated business opportunities, such as the social media site Truth Social. As such, Ramaswamy is definitely an entrepreneur to watch.