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Vivek Ramaswamy Stars at Georgia GOP Convention


Vivek Ramaswamy Stars at Georgia GOP Convention

But here’s what you need to know

JUN 18, 2023

Vivek Ramaswamy at the Georgia GOP Convention

Vivek Ramaswamy “tore up” the Geor­gia GOP con­ven­tion last week. I give him cred­it. He gave a great speech. Repub­li­cans talked about Vivek all week­end. I don’t know any­one who wasn’t impressed, even delight­ed, with Ramaswamy’s speech. But, to me, it was unset­tling that some­one I had nev­er heard of six weeks ago, could arise from the ether, be hand­ed the stage at the Colum­bus con­ven­tion, and over­whelm an audi­ence as he did. 

Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to the Geor­gia GOP Con­ven­tion in Colum­bus, GA

It was unset­tling because the last indi­vid­ual I saw do that was a young man by the name of Barack Oba­ma, who, sim­i­lar­ly, arrived out of nowhere, known by only a few insid­ers, was hand­ed cen­ter stage at the 2004 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and like­wise “tore it up.” Four years lat­er Oba­ma became a sen­a­tor from Illi­nois. Four years after that, Oba­ma became Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. We know what hap­pened since. 

Thus, to say that I was a lit­tle appre­hen­sive about Mr. Ramaswamy would be an under­state­ment. I decid­ed to look into the man. Who is V. Ramaswamy? What is his sto­ry? How did he get all that mon­ey at age 37? What is his moti­va­tion? And why has he decid­ed to run for pres­i­dent, espe­cial­ly now? I had cer­tain sus­pi­cions. What I found out was dif­fer­ent than I orig­i­nal­ly imag­ined. So I hope you will come along with me as I take a deep dive into Vivek Ramaswamy to see what we can learn. 

Education and Early Career Experience

Vivek Ramaswamy is, or at least appears to be, a high­ly suc­cess­ful, 37 year old entre­pre­neur. By some esti­mates, he is worth over $600 mil­lion, by oth­ers, not so much. Born and raised in Ohio to par­ents who emi­grat­ed from India, at age 22 he grad­u­at­ed sum­ma cum laude in Biol­o­gy from Har­vard. Soon after grad­u­at­ing, how­ev­er, rather than pur­su­ing a career in his cho­sen field, Vivek piv­ot­ed, start­ing a career as a biotech analyst/investor at QVT Finan­cial, a promi­nent hedge fund. 

With his only cre­den­tial an under­grad­u­ate degree in biol­o­gy, at the time Vivek Ramaswamy began his job man­ag­ing hedge funds, he had no time or expe­ri­ence, no cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, no for­mal edu­ca­tion of finan­cial mar­kets, no expe­ri­ence in port­fo­lio man­age­ment, or asset allo­ca­tion exper­tise. The extent of Vivek’s involve­ment in hedge fund man­age­ment came to him by virtue of two sum­mer intern­ships while at Har­vard. The 19 year-old biol­o­gy major spent his first sum­mer intern­ing with a since-defunct nine-bil­lion-dol­lar hedge fund, Ama­ranth Advi­sors. Look­ing back, Vivek would tell inter­view­ers he opt­ed intern­ing at the hedge fund over biol­o­gy because, “the thought that work­ing in the firm’s biotech divi­sion, where a team of doc­tors and sci­en­tists eval­u­at­ed stocks for the firm to invest in, might be more excit­ing than work­ing in a lab.” Thus, accord­ing to Vivek, he makes deci­sions based on cer­tain hope for excitement. 

The sec­ond sum­mer Ramaswamy spent intern­ing at Gold­man Sachs, where he had lit­tle in the way of respon­si­bil­i­ty, lit­tle or no hedge fund invest­ment train­ing, and worked in an envi­ron­ment he lat­er referred as, “a cha­rade,” New York­er Mag­a­zine report­ing,

He (Ramaswamy) describes the inner work­ings of the firm as a cha­rade, with jad­ed bankers in hand-tai­lored dress shirts doing lit­tle while mak­ing a show of how busy they were. He was espe­cial­ly struck by what was often called Ser­vice Day, when employ­ees engaged in vol­un­teer projects around the city. One day, he recalled, he and some co-work­ers gath­ered at a park in Harlem for a tree-plant­i­ng ses­sion. A Gold­man boss showed up in Guc­ci boots, told the employ­ees to take pho­tographs to doc­u­ment their pres­ence, and then split. The group recon­vened short­ly after­ward at a bar. 

So, there you have the extent of Vivek Ramaswamy’s knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence in invest­ing and man­ag­ing hedge funds pri­or to tak­ing a job doing just that at QVT. 

Despite a lack of for­mal train­ing in finan­cial mat­ters, while man­ag­ing QVT invest­ments light­en­ing struck twice for the rook­ie hedge fund man­ag­er. In 2008 he began a pro­gram of buy­ing shares of a lit­tle known biotech com­pa­ny, Phar­mas­set, at $5/share. Three years lat­er, Phar­mas­set would be pur­chased by Gilead at $137/share. As one of the largest Phar­mas­set share­hold­ers by then, QVT did very well. Vivek worked his mag­ic a sec­ond time pur­chas­ing anoth­er small but promis­ing com­pa­ny, great­ly prof­it­ing QVT and becom­ing a part­ner in the firm as a result. Was that skill, or was that luck? 

Either way, man­ag­ing hedge funds did not prove as excit­ing as Vivek first imag­ined. To stim­u­late his demand­ing intel­lect, in 2010 while still work­ing at QVT, with the company’s bless­ing Vivek began moon­light­ing as a stu­dent of the law at Yale Uni­ver­si­ty. After three years, Vivek earned his degree, com­plet­ing a per­son­al project he would lat­er claim he under­took pure­ly “for the intel­lec­tu­al expe­ri­ence,” grad­u­at­ing in 2013 at age 28. To help pay for his intel­lec­tu­al expe­ri­ence, Vivek took advan­tage of a $90,000 schol­ar­ship from The Paul & Daisy Soros Fel­low­ships for New Amer­i­cans. Who is Paul Soros? Paul is George Soros’ broth­er. Does Vivek have a rela­tion­ship of some sort with the Soros fam­i­ly? We don’t know, but before announc­ing his pres­i­den­tial bid, con­cerned that any rela­tion­ship with Soros would tar­nish his image, Vivek paid a Wikipedia edi­tor to remove ref­er­ences to Soros, the edits com­plet­ed two weeks pri­or to his announcement. 

Thus, we know young Vivek Ramaswamy was a bril­liant Har­vard biol­o­gy stu­dent, who nev­er worked a day in biol­o­gy. And we know he was at least a com­pe­tent Yale law stu­dent, who nev­er took the bar exam and nev­er prac­ticed law, and who paid for his degree out of mon­ey received from George Soros’ broth­er. Final­ly, we know Vivek gets bored eas­i­ly, always look­ing for the next big thing to excite his sens­es and stim­u­late his intellect. 

Starting His First Company

Instead of pur­su­ing a career in law, with­in a year of grad­u­at­ing Yale, Vivek Ramaswamy opt­ed to put his tal­ents to work in a field in which he had no train­ing to speak of, and no expe­ri­ence, and very lit­tle appar­ent knowl­edge, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try. He found­ed Roivant Sci­ences in 2014, to be a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal hold­ing com­pa­ny, serv­ing as its CEO until 2021. Vivek had the idea of tak­ing drug for­mu­la­tions pre­vi­ous­ly shelved by major phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, estab­lish­ing var­i­ous cor­po­rate sub­sidiaries to to con­duct addi­tion­al research, under­take clin­i­cal tri­als, and if suc­cess­ful bring those drugs to mar­ket, pre­cise­ly the kind of activ­i­ty that could excite Vivek’s sens­abil­i­ties, at least for a while. 

Although Vivek had no expe­ri­ence run­ning a busi­ness at any lev­el, some­how he cap­i­tal­ized Roivant in an IPO, rais­ing $93 mil­lion from investors. And some­how, he recruit­ed sev­er­al well-known Demo­c­rat fig­ures to become board mem­bers, includ­ing for­mer Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader, Tom Daschle, for­mer Sec­re­tary of Health and Human Ser­vices under Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Kath­leen Sebe­lius, and for­mer admin­is­tra­tor of the Cen­ters for Medicare and Med­ic­aid Ser­vice, Don­ald Berwick. 

The first drug Vivek attempt­ed to bring to mar­ket was one pre­vi­ous­ly shelved by Glax­o­SmithK­line, one engi­neered to treat Alzheimer’s and oth­er cog­ni­tive dis­or­ders, for which he bought the rights to fur­ther devel­op, invest­ing $5 mil­lion. Vivek estab­lished an off­shore enti­ty in Bermu­da, Axo­vant, to own the for­mu­la­tion and per­form the work, sub­se­quent­ly cap­i­tal­iz­ing Axo­vant in the largest IPO ever under­tak­en, imme­di­ate­ly rais­ing over $300 mil­lion for the project. That was a remark­able amount to raise con­sid­er­ing Axo­vant had no mar­ketable prod­uct to sell, only the hope of devel­op­ing an effec­tive treat­ment for Alzheimer’s, a suc­cess­ful drug in that regard one of the the Holy Grails of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal research. Thus, right off the bat Vivek Ramaswamy went for the brass ring which oth­ers, bet­ter cap­i­tal­ized and more knowl­edge­able, had always fall­en short of grasping. 

It is dif­fi­cult not to notice the amount of unnat­ur­al, unfound­ed trust investors con­sis­tent­ly place in Vivek Ramaswamy. He had no train­ing in busi­ness, not even a child­hood paper route, had nev­er worked in busi­ness so much as a bag boy for a local gro­cery store, yet as he nav­i­gat­ed var­i­ous career paths, investors jumped at the chance of allow­ing him to man­age their hedge funds, and to give him mon­ey to start a busi­ness tasked with devel­op­ing a long shot drug the ini­tial devel­op­er, with deep pock­ets and the expe­ri­ence of Glax­o­SmithK­line, decid­ed would nev­er pan out. Vivek thought dif­fer­ent­ly and con­vinced investors to have faith in what he told them. So they gave him all that mon­ey based on a hunch. Quot­ing the New York­er,

“Forbes (mag­a­zine) put Ramaswamy on its cov­er and called him ‘The 30-Year-Old CEO Con­jur­ing Drug Com­pa­nies from Thin Air.’ In the accom­pa­ny­ing arti­cle, Ramaswamy declared, “This will be the high­est return on invest­ment endeav­or ever tak­en up in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal industry.”

Vivek Ramaswamy ran the worth of Axo­vant up to a report­ed $2.6 bil­lion, only to be told the dev­as­tat­ing news, the Alzheimer’s drug was just as Glasko fig­ured, a fail­ure. As a result, Axo­vant investors lost all of their mon­ey. Vivek told an inter­view­er, “It felt humiliating…I’d let peo­ple down. I took it hard.” Yes, Vivek may have tak­en it hard, but impor­tant­ly, Vivek lost no mon­ey, him­self. As CEO of the par­ent com­pa­ny, Vivek con­tin­ued to receive his com­pen­sa­tion while Axo­vant went bank­rupt, his investors left with nothing. 

Vivek’s Companies Generally Lose Money

For all his tout­ed suc­cess, Vivek Ramaswamy’s com­pa­nies, led by flag­ship Roivant, gen­er­al­ly oper­ate at a loss, For­tune Mag­a­zine recent­ly reporting, 

His flag­ship hold­ing com­pa­ny, Roivant, has nev­er once turned a prof­it since going pub­lic, los­ing $433 mil­lion in 2020, $698 mil­lion in 2021, and a whop­ping $1.12 bil­lion in 2022, with Bloomberg pre­dict­ing anoth­er $1.03 bil­lion in loss­es in 2023. 

Despite loss­es in his com­pa­nies, accord­ing to his tax returns, Vivek does rea­son­ably well, Politi­co report­ing Vivek declared, “over $1 mil­lion in annu­al income for the first time in 2011, when he worked at QVT Finan­cial, and has since report­ed earn­ing more than $240 mil­lion, dri­ven by $174 mil­lion in cap­i­tal gains for 2020.”

Hav­ing built a per­son­al for­tune despite the unprof­itabil­i­ty of his com­pa­nies, Vivek ulti­mate­ly decid­ed to move on from Roivant day-to-day oper­a­tions. In ear­ly 2021, either vol­un­tar­i­ly or forced by the board, Vivek Ramaswamy stepped down as CEO, once again turn­ing his atten­tion to some­thing else, con­stant­ly search­ing for excite­ment and the next big thing. 

Striving for More Excitement

When one’s com­pa­nies are not doing well finan­cial­ly, what should one do? For Vivek Ramaswamy, the answer seems always to start anoth­er com­pa­ny. No longer inhib­it­ed by the chore of con­tin­u­ous­ly mar­ket­ing a lan­guish­ing biotech com­pa­ny to the world, in the third quar­ter of 2022, Ramaswamy announced the estab­lish­ment of his lat­est source of excite­ment and intel­lec­tu­al stim­u­la­tion, Strive Asset Man­age­ment. Strive rep­re­sents a new direc­tion for Ramaswamy, a piv­ot toward ide­o­log­i­cal­ly-based finan­cial man­age­ment. Designed to com­pete for investors by dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing itself from cor­po­rate “wokeism,” Strive’s allure is the prospect that polit­i­cal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive-mind­ed investors might believe con­ser­v­a­tive-mind­ed asset man­agers will bet­ter invest their mon­ey than woke man­agers. Is the busi­ness plan work­ing? So far, no. Com­pet­ing against the likes of Black­rock, Strive’s mar­ket pres­ence hard­ly mea­sures. Approach­ing the com­ple­tion of its first year in oper­a­tion, Strive’s assets under man­age­ment (AUM) are vir­tu­al­ly unchanged and appear to be trend­ing down­ward, in the red over $60 mil­lion since the start of 2023. 

Why Vivek Ramaswamy is Running for President

Strive may be Vivek’s last chance at notable, mid-scale entre­pre­neur­ship. Hav­ing failed, or at best stag­nat­ed in every cap­i­tal­ized ven­ture since his days at QVT, Ramaswamy’s strat­e­gy appears to be gin­ning busi­ness for Strive by becom­ing a polit­i­cal­ly-active per­son­al­i­ty in the 2024 pres­i­den­tial race, which he must know he has very lit­tle chance to win. To announce his inten­tion, ear­li­er this spring the charis­mat­ic Ramaswamy appeared on Fox News’ high­ly rat­ed Tuck­er Carl­son Show, declar­ing his run for the Pres­i­den­cy of the Unit­ed States. 

Polling at under 3% among Repub­li­cans, a lev­el which does not reg­is­ter on the graph below, con­ser­v­a­tive sup­port for Vivek Ramaswamy appears to be decreas­ing as rapid­ly as Strive’s AUM. 

Obvi­ous­ly, a can­di­date polling in 6th posi­tion, next to last, against all chal­lengers to a pop­u­lar, well-fund­ed, pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent, will have a dif­fi­cult path to nav­i­gate to occu­py the Oval Office. That being the case, why is Vivek Ramaswamy run­ning for Pres­i­dent? Two rea­sons appear obvi­ous. First of all, Vivek Ramaswamy bores eas­i­ly. As he has told us and demon­strat­ed many times, Vivek craves excite­ment. A pres­i­den­tial run excites him. But sec­ond­ly, Strive may be his last chance at suc­cess in the Wall Street lev­el finan­cial world. Vivek sees a pres­i­den­tial run as a way to ener­gize a com­pa­ny in search of a polit­i­cal­ly-con­ser­v­a­tive clien­tele. Vivek Ramaswamy knows he is not a seri­ous con­tender to become Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, at least not any­time soon. There­fore, the only moti­va­tion remain­ing would be just that, to use a pres­i­den­tial run as a source of per­son­al excite­ment, and to lure con­ser­v­a­tive-mind­ed investors toward his con­ser­v­a­tive-mind­ed asset man­age­ment com­pa­ny. There you go. 

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Mistaken Political Beliefs

In a recent tweet, Vivek Ramaswamy offered a video explain­ing his inter­pre­ta­tion of the prin­ci­ples of America’s found­ing, which he claims are respon­si­ble for safe-guard­ing human free­dom. Here is the truth Vivek pro­posed to his audience: 

But in his speech, Vivek pro­posed a truth which is not what Thomas Jef­fer­son knew at all. Nei­ther Jef­fer­son, nor any of our found­ing fathers, would agree that free­dom depends on a belief in some gener­ic, unde­fined high­er pow­er. Jef­fer­son and America’s founders pro­fessed faith in the pow­er of “the most Holy and undi­vid­ed Trin­i­ty,” and that it is that spe­cif­ic high­er pow­er Who has the capac­i­ty to free mankind, none oth­er. In fact, our founders would agree that any oth­er pro­posed high­er pow­er would be pur­posed toward the enslave­ment and destruc­tion of mankind. 

Pre­am­ble of the Treaty of Paris, 1783, which end­ed the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War

Vivek Ramaswamy pro­fess­es Hin­du faith. He has every right in Amer­i­ca to do so. How­ev­er, the “laws of nature and of nature’s God,” as Thomas Jef­fer­son wrote in the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, and to which Vivek refers, are not the laws of any Hin­du gods, Brah­ma, Vish­nu, Shi­va, Devi, Krish­na, Lak­sh­mi, and Saraswati. They are the laws of God of the Bible. That’s very different. 

Explain­ing the dif­fer­ence, while faith in the Holy Trin­i­ty led the Amer­i­can founders to endorse the prin­ci­ple, “All men are cre­at­ed equal,” Hin­dus, faith­ful toward a dif­fer­ent set of beliefs, pro­fess that Brah­ma cre­at­ed men to live with­in a caste sys­tem in which the social hier­ar­chy is deter­mined by birth and by name, to the extent that cer­tain indi­vid­u­als are so infe­ri­or as to be untouch­able by even the low­est caste. Fur­ther­more, Ramaswamy is a Brah­man, the high­est caste in the Hin­du social hier­ar­chy. Accord­ing to New York­er Mag­a­zine,

Short­ly after Ramaswamy was born, his fam­i­ly com­mis­sioned his horo­scope (which accord­ing to God of the Bible is a sin), which pre­dict­ed that he was des­tined for great­ness. He would lat­er say that his fam­i­ly bestowed on him, their first­born, a sense of “deep-seat­ed supe­ri­or­i­ty” and an expec­ta­tion that he would out­per­form the “aver­age mediocre Joes” with whom he went to school. 

Thus, Vivek Ramaswamy is a walk­ing, talk­ing con­tra­dic­tion. He admits a sense of deep-seat­ed supe­ri­or­i­ty to aver­age peo­ple, while claim­ing the prin­ci­ples of the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, pro­claim­ing equal­i­ty among all, to be his own. In his pro­nounce­ments, he sub­verts the Amer­i­can found­ing, trans­form­ing its mean­ing to bet­ter fit his per­son­al world view, and in the process co-opt­ing unknowl­edge­able Chris­tians to agree with his inter­pre­ta­tion, and per­haps pro­vid­ing a more accept­able, gener­ic view of the Amer­i­can prin­ci­ples to those who are not of Chris­t­ian faith. That’s all very clever, but also very dishonest. 

On anoth­er issue, in a recent online inter­view Vivek Ramaswamy dis­played full igno­rance of the prob­lem of US debt, as well as any real solu­tion, claim­ing sim­ply, “The print­ing of mon­ey hap­pens at the US Trea­sury.” But the US Trea­sury does not print mon­ey at all. The US Trea­sury does not cre­ate mon­ey in any form or fash­ion. And that is pre­cise­ly the prob­lem with the debt and our con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment deficits. The US Trea­sury only cre­ates DEBT, sad­dling it on the backs of the Amer­i­can peo­ple, debt which is used as col­lat­er­al on the bal­ance sheet of the New York Region­al Fed­er­al Reserve Bank in a process by which pri­vate Wall Street banks loan mon­ey into exis­tence, col­lat­er­al­ized by future Amer­i­can tax pro­ceeds. The entire US mon­ey sup­ply is pay­ing inter­est to those banks. Pre­cise­ly because the US Trea­sury DOES NOT “print mon­ey,” as opposed to what Ramaswamy believes, is the rea­son for the accu­mu­la­tion of unpayable pub­lic and pri­vate Amer­i­can debt. 

So even if one is drawn to the pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­cy of Vivek Ramaswamy, please know that there is noth­ing he might do to rem­e­dy the prob­lem of US debt, under­stand­ing mon­ey-cre­ation process as he does. 


When I began my exam­i­na­tion of pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Vivek Ramaswamy, because he was such a long shot, I tend­ed to believe he was being put up to it by cer­tain oth­ers inter­est­ed in dilut­ing Don­ald Trump’s sup­port, as so many in the Repub­li­can field of can­di­dates have been. I fig­ured he was like­ly just anoth­er ‘con­trolled oppo­si­tion’ can­di­date. But what I dis­cov­ered is an extreme­ly com­plex indi­vid­ual, flawed like any­one else, whose moti­va­tions are not nec­es­sar­i­ly as adver­tised. Vivek Ramaswamy has suc­cess­ful­ly brand­ed him­self a young, bril­liant exec­u­tive wor­thy of the office of Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. He has done so by cre­at­ing com­pa­ny after com­pa­ny, lever­ag­ing their resources in ways to cre­ate and exploit oppor­tu­ni­ties for his own enrich­ment. While his com­pa­nies rarely make mon­ey, Vivek does. While this young man has made a mod­est for­tune by today’s stan­dards, he appears to have made it on the backs of investors who have them­selves lost mon­ey invest­ing in his com­pa­nies. Vivek Ramaswamy is a born sales­man, well-spo­ken, using his com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills to con­vince oth­ers to do as he directs and to have con­fi­dence that he knows what he is doing, when, appar­ent­ly, he does not. Gen­er­al­ly, Vivek Ramaswamy busi­ness ven­tures fail, or at best lan­guish. Now and then (although it has been quite a while) he hits a home run, which feeds the sto­ry he uses to con­vince each next set of investors. 

Should we elect the Vivek Ramaswamy media per­son­al­i­ty, with all his strengths and weak­ness­es, and place him in the Oval Office as Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, would he be bet­ter than with Joe Biden? Per­haps. But the Vivek Ramaswamy per­son­al­i­ty I see is inward-focused. What he does is for him, not any­one else, not the Amer­i­can peo­ple. That is because the wel­fare of the Amer­i­can peo­ple is not what rewards him. Excite­ment rewards him, he admits that. Mov­ing for­ward to the next unknown expe­ri­ence rewards him, we see that in his his­to­ry. Risk excites him, we see that in his his­to­ry. Down­play­ing risk to oth­ers, while gain­ing and cap­i­tal­iz­ing on their trust, rewards him finan­cial­ly, we see that in his his­to­ry as well. 

So, in the end do you want Vivek Ramaswamy to be your next Pres­i­dent? I don’t think you are going to have to wor­ry about it, I just thought you ought to know. 

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