“Entrepreneur” Vivek Ramaswamy Made Money Out Of A Failed Alzheimer’s Drug And Left Investors Behind

Vivek Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur, has emerged as a formidable contender for the Republican presidential nomination. Just six months ago, he was relatively unknown among the candidates, but his unconventional approach, tireless campaigning, and alignment with front-runner Donald Trump have propelled him to a second-place position in certain Republican primary polls.

Ramaswamy’s appeal was palpable during a recent debate in Wisconsin, where he faced sustained attacks from his rivals. Drawing on his self-crafted image as a highly successful businessman, he strives to emulate a younger, less encumbered version of Trump. Forbes reports his net worth close to a billion dollars, a testament to his entrepreneurial prowess.

“I’m not a politician . . . I’m an entrepreneur,” he said at this week’s debate. “My parents came to this country with no money 40 years ago. I have gone on to found multibillion-dollar companies.”

But it seems that Ramaswamy has things more in common with Trump than meets the eye, including betting on failed businesses and running them to ground, leaving investors behind.

Axovant

One of his major financial successes came from his investment in an experimental Alzheimer’s medicine, acquired from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for a mere $5 million in 2015. Despite skepticism from GSK executives about the drug’s potential, Ramaswamy’s innovative approach led to the creation of Axovant, a firm that secured $315 million through an IPO, marking the largest biotech go public at the time. While the Alzheimer’s medicine ultimately failed clinical trials in 2017, Roivant, Ramaswamy’s holding company, was partially shielded from the fallout.

Ramaswamy’s journey, however, hasn’t been without its controversies. Critics point to his lofty claims and relative inexperience in the biopharma arena, while supporters emphasize his track record of successfully developing drugs that gained FDA approval. His pivot from biotech to fund management materialized with the launch of Strive Asset Management, supported by prominent Republican financiers Peter Thiel and Howard Lutnick. The firm aimed to capitalize on growing backlash against corporate-driven political and social agendas.

Intriguingly, Ramaswamy’s ascension in the Republican race hasn’t been devoid of challenges. He faces skepticism from former associates who question his commitment to gutting what he labels a “corrupt” FDA, given that his wealth is tied to the FDA’s regulatory approvals.

Sumitovant Biopharma successfully acquired Roivant subsidiary Myovant in October 2022, marking a significant development in the industry. The acquisition was finalized in March, with Sumitovant agreeing to a payment of $27 per share for all outstanding Myovant shares.

However, following this transaction, Alpine Partners, an investment management firm that was once a shareholder of Myovant, took legal action. They initiated an appraisal rights lawsuit aimed at ensuring fair compensation for shareholders’ stock, including themselves. Alpine Partners issued a subpoena for Ramaswamy’s testimony and relevant materials pertaining to how Myovant was valued during the merger negotiations. The scheduled testimony date was set for June 30, with an additional 30-day grace period for compliance.

During his presidential run, Ramaswamy recently tried to argue in court that his campaign should be an excuse to “wriggle out of a subpoena in a proceeding in Bermuda court involving one of his many pharmaceutical concerns.”

“As a candidate for President of the United States, I must frequently travel across the United States to campaign, make speeches, give media interviews, and meet with voters. Consequently, I am often away from home, and when I am home it is often not until late in the evening after a full campaign day,” he explained.

“Without a filter”

Amid these debates, Ramaswamy remains resolute in his pursuit of the presidency, unfazed by detractors and focusing on expressing his unfiltered opinions—a liberty he cherishes after years in corporate America.

“The part about this has been most rewarding for me is speaking my mind without a filter. That’s what I have been doing on this campaign. And I wasn’t free to do that in my life in corporate America,” he said when asked about his move to enter politics.

Nevertheless, Ramaswamy’s campaign has garnered attention for its ambitious yet unrealistic promises. Notably, he pledged to dismiss 75% of federal government employees within his first term, sparking criticism reminiscent of his time in the biotech industry, where he faced accusations of overhyping his ventures.

His recent foray into the political arena has also come with legal disputes, as he and Strive Asset Management confront a lawsuit from a former employee alleging wrongful termination over disagreements regarding marketing materials. Strive contends the termination resulted from underperformance.

In a statement to the press, Tricia McLaughlin, a spokesperson for Ramaswamy’s campaign, dismissed the timing of the lawsuits as opportunistic. She drew parallels between Ramaswamy’s management style and his vision for government, emphasizing a commitment to eliminating underperformance.


Information for this story was found via Financial Times and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses

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