The Rise Of Vivek Ramaswamy: A Story Of Innovation And Ambition

No longer part of the US 2024 presidential race, Vivek Ramaswamy has nevertheless won international attention and could be considered for Trump’s potential cabinet. Discover more about the US biotech entrepreneur with roots in Kerala…

By Nichola Marie

In March this year, news emerged that former President Donald Trump had passed over Indian-American billionaire entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy as his running mate, but was supposedly considering Ramaswamy for a position in his Cabinet if he clinches the 2024 presidential polls. Buzz goes that Ramaswamy could be a possible pick for Homeland Security secretary, among other positions. His strong public speaking skills are seen as a definite pro. Additionally, his background as an Indian American immigrant’s son could possibly help counter criticism of Trump’s immigration policies. The game is, indeed, far from over for Ramaswamy.

Last year, Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old US biotech entrepreneur with Indian roots, drew attention with his bid for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. “Virtually unknown before he announced his run for president, Ramaswamy rose to third place in national polls over the summer, amid a slew of appearances on cable news,” notes ‘The Guardian’. With millions of dollars made over his career in the biotech industry, Ramaswamy became one of the most visible candidates via a blitzkrieg of media appearances and constant engagement in culture battles. The majority of his campaign’s fundraising had been fuelled by his fortune: From February to July 2023, Ramaswamy had loaned his campaign more than $15 million; there was approximately $9 million in cash in hand when his campaign ended in the second quarter of 2023. While his fundraising lagged far behind Donald Trump’s and Ron DeSantis’, it was ahead of most of the other Republican primary candidates. 

The youngest person running for the Republican nomination, and the son of Indian immigrants, Ramaswamy naturally stood out in a field that has been dominated by older white men. However, he raised even more eyebrows as he presented himself further to the right than even some of his older Republican rivals. Making waves during the course of his campaign, he claimed that the “climate change agenda” was a “hoax”, and that he would increase fossil fuel production. He also declared that he would “universally” deport all undocumented immigrants living in the US and vouched he would admit “darn close to zero” refugees. He also sought to appeal to Christian nationalist voters, who are an important part of the Republican base, maintaining that the US was founded on Judeo-Christian values, which he shares. 

Coming from relative obscurity, Ramaswamy swiftly reached the position of being one of the key contenders to challenge Trump’s lead in the initial months of the campaign season. He wasn’t holding anything back, reportedly doing approximately 30 interviews in a single day! Appearing on more than 150 podcasts in the previous six months, his performance at an August debate was dubbed “a breakout moment” by CNN. Later, he lost ground to DeSantis and Haley, finishing fourth against Trump and the other challengers in the Iowa Republican caucus on January 15, 2024. That night, suspending his campaign, he told supporters he “called Donald Trump to tell him that I congratulate him on his victory. And now, going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency.” 

Though he failed to clinch the presidential nomination, Ramaswamy’s strategy is seen as having been effective in boosting Trump’s support and earning him a position on the platform at campaign rallies. 

Responding to reports of his future role in Trump’s possible Cabinet, Ramaswamy’s spokesperson, Tricia McLaughlin, told ‘The New York Post’, “This country would be lucky to have him serve in the next administration and beyond. In the meantime, Vivek is focused on driving change in the private sector and reforming our economy, including by continuing to push back against the ESG cancer in corporate America.” 

Indian Roots, American Wings
Tamil-speaking Brahmins hailing from Kerala, Ramaswamy’s mother worked as a geriatric psychiatrist, while his father was an engineer and patent lawyer at General Electric. The couple moved to the United States in the 1970s, where Ramaswamy was born in 1985 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has often alluded to the piece of advice he received from his father, which set the course for his life: “If you’re going to stand out, then you might as well be outstanding.” A nationally ranked tennis player, he was valedictorian of his high school, St Xavier. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in biology at Harvard University in 2007. Going on to work for a hedge fund, he had $7 million in seven years. Earning a law degree in 2013 from Yale University, it was here that he also met his future wife, Apoorva Tewari, a medical student who later became a throat surgeon. In 2014, aged 29, Ramaswamy started a pharmaceutical company, Roivant Sciences, where he oversaw the development of five drugs that went on to become FDA-approved. By the year 2023, he had made at least a quarter million dollars in personal income from the company.

Rise To Attention
He would go on to be dubbed one of the “intellectual godfathers of the anti-woke movement” (‘Politico’) by the left-leaning media, the “right’s leading anti-ESG crusader” (‘Axios’ and ‘Bloomberg’), and “The C.E.O. of Anti-Woke,” by ‘The New Yorker’.

His frank objection to environment, social, and governance (ESG) investing is what brought him a wave of attention. In an interview with ‘The Wall Street Journal’, claiming he was apolitical before 2020, he deplored partisan politics for interfering in the corporate sector. 

Stepping down as Roivant’s CEO in January 2021, he published his first book later that year, titled ‘Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam’. In the book, he criticised corporations for wading into social issues by practices such as instituting diversity quotas in hiring or by divesting from companies that pollute the environment. He panned the practice for being cynical, namely a ruse to increase profits or divert attention from unethical deeds. He also deemed it corrosive to democracy as it imposed social priorities on the public. Citing the example of Delta Air Lines, Inc. criticising new laws in Georgia on the grounds that they would suppress voter turnout, Ramaswamy said the company had failed “to explain why Americans should care whether a voting law matches the values of an airline company.”

The following year, he founded an “anti-woke” index fund provider called Strive Asset Management LLC. He cited it as the antithesis of other asset management companies like BlackRock, Inc., that purport publicly to invest in an ESG framework. He assured that Strive would offer investment funds without asking companies to “push political agendas.” Backed by Peter Thiel and Narya Capital, the venture capital firm belonged to JD Vance, Ramaswamy’s friend from law school, who would be elected to the US Senate in late 2022. In September 2023, as Ramaswamy was surging in opinion polling for the Republican primary elections, Strive revealed that its assets had crossed $1 billion. Ramaswamy’s personal net worth was hovering around $1 billion, around the same time.

Entering The Race 2024
In 2023, at a time when the Republican race already included political heavyweights like Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, Ramaswamy began his presidential run. Via a video announcing his bid, he declared that in the US “new secular religions like Covid-ism, climate-ism and gender ideology” were replacing “faith, patriotism, and hard work.” During his presidential run, he announced his support for the Republican position on issues such as abortion bans. Alongside, he also promoted certain unorthodox policies which included raising the standard voting age to 25, restricting birthright citizenship, and sending the US military to Mexico to “annihilate” drug cartels. Taking a tougher stance, he vowed to dismiss more than 75% of the federal workforce; disband the FBI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Education; and also to abolish teacher unions. He further courted controversy arguing that people should “be proud to live a high-carbon lifestyle,” claiming that “more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change.”

Whatever lies ahead, Ramaswamy is bound to stand out as well as be outstanding!

Did You Know?

  • According to a profile in ‘Politico’, Ramaswamy lives in a $2 million estate in the suburb of Upper Arlington, in Columbus, Ohio. His net worth is reported to be $950 million. 
  • According to reports, he has tried to develop a good understanding of Eastern and Western cultures and traditions. Reportedly a monotheistic Hindu, he is fluent in Tamil and is a practicing vegetarian. In 2020, he wrote, “I believe it is wrong to kill sentient animals for culinary pleasure.”
  • Ramaswamy is also a ‘New York Times’ bestselling author. Besides ‘Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam’, he has penned ‘Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence’, and ‘Capitalist Punishment: How Wall Street is Using Your Money to Create a Country You Didn’t Vote For’.
  • Married to Apoorva, a throat surgeon and Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the couple has two sons. 

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