Vivek Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old Republican presidential candidate who emerged from nowhere to challenge Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for second place in the GOP primary race, is one of the wealthiest Americans under the age of 40.
Ramaswamy, the son of Indian immigrants who studied biology at Harvard before obtaining a law degree from Yale, was briefly a billionaire before a downturn in the stock market shrunk his wealth to just over $950 million, according to Forbes.
He derives most of his fortune from the 10% ownership stake in Roivant Sciences, the biotechnology firm that he founded in 2014.
Ramaswamy, who was raised in the Hindu faith by his parents but went to a Catholic high school, was a hedge fund analyst at QVT before he started Roivant at the age of 29.
He conceived of Roivant as a company that would create subsidiaries that would develop drugs that were overlooked and abandoned by larger pharmaceutical makers.
One of his first major business moves was to acquire the rights to an Alzheimer’s medication that was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and make the drug the centerpiece of a Roivant subsidiary, Axovant.
The drug, intepirdine, showed promising results in early clinical trials, enabling Roivant to take Axovant public in a 2015 IPO that raised $360 million.
In 2017, Roivant raised $1.1 billion in equity from several venture capital firms, including SoftBank.
Ramaswamy took Roivant public in 2021 through a merger with a blank-check firm that valued the company at $7.3 billion.
Since founding Roivant, Ramaswamy has taken in more than $260 million in salary, bonuses, and capital gains.
Ramaswamy’s 10% stake in the company, which had a market capitalization of $8.87 billion as of Thursday morning, translates into $887 million on paper.
So far this year, Roivant’s stock price is up by more than 82%.
Ramaswamy has also diversified his investments to include cryptocurrency as well as stakes in YouTube upstart rival Rumble and digital payments firm MoonPay, according to Forbes.
He also founded an “anti-woke” index fund, Strive Asset Manager, which was recently valued at $300 million.
Ramaswamy’s stake in Strive is said to be worth $100 million.
In recent years Ramaswamy has become a fierce conservative.
In his 2021 bestseller “Woke, Inc.,” Ramaswamy decries decisions by some big companies to base business strategy around social justice and climate change concerns and lambastes “wokeism” as an insidious influence on hard work, capitalism, religious faith, and patriotism.
The book raised Ramaswamy’s profile among conservatives, and he began his rapid ascension as a right-wing star.