October 4, 2023

Ramaswamy Investments seem at odds with its stance on ‘Woke’ culture

Republican presidential nominee Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at the GOP State Convention in Columbus, Georgia on June 8, 2023. (Jon Cherry/The New York Times)

Republican presidential nominee Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at the GOP State Convention in Columbus, Georgia on June 8, 2023. (Jon Cherry/The New York Times)

Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate who made a fortune in the biotech industry, has captured the attention of primary voters with fervent criticism of the socially conscious practices of American corporations, which he outlined in a book, “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.”

But Ramaswamy holds valuable investments in many companies that have embraced environmental, social and governance principles known as ESG — the kind of “wake up” business practices he decries — according to a financial disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission released Friday.

While many of the companies in which Ramaswamy has an interest are household names, they are also leaders in the corporate movement to address social and environmental issues.

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Among the companies Ramaswamy has invested in are Microsoft (his holdings are valued at $1 million to $5 million), Home Depot ($250,000 to $500,000), Lockheed Martin ($500,000 to $1 million), and Waste Management ($500,000 to $1 million). 500,000 to $1 million). They all adhere to different ESG principles, according to reports on their websites.

Ramaswamy has argued that such goals are a distraction from making a profit, and that social goals should be left to elected officials.

Tricia McLaughlin, a senior adviser to Ramaswamy, said he did not manage his own stock portfolio. “The first time Vivek heard of these positions was when he saw this financial disclosure report,” McLaughlin said Friday. “Vivek’s equity portfolio is independently managed by a third party. The filer has the authority to transact and invest in stocks without his express consent or knowledge.

Ramaswamy, a long-awaited candidate who has said he would go further than the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, on conservative issues, has been unusually transparent about his net worth, previously releasing 20 years of his tax returns.

But until he submitted his financial disclosure to election officials, the details were few. The filing stated that Ramaswamy owned up to a $25 million investment in Rumble, a video platform that bills itself as a haven for right-wing commentators shunned elsewhere. He owns up to $300,000 in cryptocurrency, mostly bitcoin, and a $100,000 investment in a cryptocurrency app called MoonPay. He also has interests in three private jets.

Ramaswamy, 37, is from Cincinnati and has degrees from Harvard and Yale. He founded Roivant Sciences in 2014, a drug development and marketing company, which is the main source of his wealth. Although he stepped down as chairman in February when he announced his candidacy, previous reporting showed he remained one of the largest shareholders. According to the federal disclosure, the value of his Roivant property is listed as “more than $50 million,” which is the largest category used on the form.

According to McLaughlin, Ramaswamy’s total worth is over $1 billion.

In addition to Roivant, Ramaswamy’s portfolio is diversified into investments in large US companies that many Americans would recognize from their own retirement accounts. These holdings are valued between $39.6 million and $125 million. (The amounts on the form are reported within a range.) In addition, he reported more than $50 million in holdings in Strive Enterprises, an investment company he founded to manage funds that invest in companies without regard to social objectives.

Sales of Ramaswamy’s book ‘Woke, Inc.’, in which he lays out his case against companies trying to advance social causes, earned the author $203,860 in royalties.

The report suggests one area in which Ramaswamy is more humble than other members of his ultra-wealthy cohort: He only owns one home, in Columbus, Ohio. Its value was fixed between $1 million and $5 million.

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