Vivek Ramaswamy is the latest entrepreneur pivoting to politics. The 2024 Republican presidential candidate is one of a long list of business leaders who have run for President of the United States.
And some have even won. Entrepreneurs are no strangers to the Oval Office—at least eight former U.S. presidents have taken their business backgrounds to the highest office in the land—from Donald Trump’s real estate business to Jimmy Carter’s peanut farm.
Ramaswamy, 38, is also garnering attention because he is one of the wealthiest people ever to enter the race.
Here’s more about Ramaswamy’s business history, plus other entrepreneurs who have tried to take on the presidency.
Photo by Win McNamee | Getty Images — Republican presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, participates in the first debate of the GOP primary season on August 23, 2023, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Who is Vivek Ramaswamy?
Vivek Ramaswamy was born on August 9, 1985, and raised by Indian immigrant parents in Cincinnati, Ohio. He excelled in tennis and was nationally ranked in his youth. He was also valedictorian of his high school senior class, per Business Insider.
He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in biology before earning a J.D. from Yale University.
During his studies, he worked at QVT Financial LP as a hedge fund investor specializing in pharmaceutical investments, making $7 million in his first seven years in the workforce, according to Forbes. He was made partner by age 28 while studying at Yale.
Around the same time, he met his wife, Apoorva, a throat surgeon and assistant professor at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The couple wed in 2015 and live in Ohio, raising their two sons.
What are Vivek Ramaswamy’s businesses?
Ramaswamy left the hedge fund in 2014 and founded Roivant Sciences, a biotech company, at age 29. Roivant received backing from Ramaswamy’s former employer. It operated by purchasing patents from pharmaceutical companies that had not been fully developed to then develop and market the products.
The company and its subsidiaries made billions under this business model, per The Wall Street Journal.
However, the business hit rough waters when it purchased an experimental Alzheimer’s drug in 2014 for $5 million, per The New York Times. The drug failed clinical trials, and Roivant discontinued development in 2017, according to Insider.
Today, Roiviant is focused on developing drugs for psoriasis and dermatitis, according to its website.
Roivant went public in 2021, and Ramaswamy stepped down as CEO shortly after. That same year, he also published a book, “Woke Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam” with Center Street, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. It was a New York Times Bestseller.
In 2022, he founded Strive, an asset management firm with big-name backers (Peter Thiel, Bill Ackman). In September, the company hit $1 billion in assets, according to Bloomberg.
What has the reception been to Ramaswamy entering the race?
Heading into the second Republican debate Wednesday evening, Ramaswamy is in second place, polling around (13%) in the latest survey of likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire, per CNN.
Former President Trump is the first choice, polling at 39%.
Ramaswamy’s numbers have skyrocketed since the first debate, but his run so far hasn’t been without some controversy. He was booed at the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate for stating: “The climate change agenda is a hoax.”
Last month, Eminem had his team at BMI send a cease-and-desist letter to Ramaswamy’s campaign after the candidate used the rapper’s hit 2002 song “Lose Yourself” at the Iowa State Fair in August.
This year, two former Stive employees sued Ramaswamy for allegedly making staffers violate securities law and mistreat their fellow coworkers, according to Bloomberg. One suit filed in June alleges that Ramaswamy exaggerated the company’s finances to employees and investors. The other suit filed in August claimed the plaintiff was fired for raising concerns about sexual harassment and age discrimination.
What is Vivek Ramaswamy’s net worth?
Ramaswamy’s net worth is just under $1 billion, making him one of the youngest almost-billionaires in the country and one of the wealthiest Republican nominees, per Forbes.
His fortune is comprised of a 10% stake in Riovant, valued at $600 million. Additionally, the company has paid him $260 million from his salary and other bonuses. His stake in Strive is reportedly worth $100 million. He also has an investment portfolio with various crypto investments.
Meet some other entrepreneurs who have run for President of the United States:
Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images | Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on September 13, 2023 in New York.
- Founder of Bloomberg LP.
- He was elected mayor of New York City in 2001 and held office for three consecutive terms.
- Ran for Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.
- Net worth is $96.3 billion, per Forbes.
Photo by Ed Lallo/Bloomberg via Getty Images | H. Ross Perot, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Perot Systems Corp., stands for a photo in his office in this file photo taken on Sept. 28, 2008.
- A Dallas computer billionaire, Perot founded Electronic Data Systems.
- Ran as an Independent in 1992 — won 19% of the popular vote, the most ever for an independent candidate.
- Had a net worth of $4.1 billion at his time of death in 2019, per Forbes.
Photo by Patrick McMullan/PMC via Getty Images | Steve Forbes on April 7, 2022, in New York City.
- Editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine.
- Ran for Republican presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000.
- Net worth is $430 million, per Investopedia.
Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images | Former presidential candidate Herman Cain on November 11, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images | Carly Fiorina on the TODAY show on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for TIME | Tom Steyer in New York on April 25, 2023 in New York City.
- Ran hedge fund Farallon Capital for 26 years.
- Ran for Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.
- Net Worth: $2.1 billion, per Forbes.
Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images – Andrew Yang May 05, 2023, in New York City.
- Manhattan Prep CEO
- Ran as a Democrat in 2020 – left the party in 2021 and founded the Forward Party, a centrist political action committee and political party.
- Had a net worth of $1 million when he ran for president in 2020, according to Forbes.
Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images | Sen. Mitt Romney on Wednesday, Sept 13, 2023, in Washington, DC.
- CEO of management consultant company Bain & Company and founder of spin-off private equity investment firm Bain Capital.
- Was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018.
- Ran for Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Ran again in 2012 and won the nomination, but lost the presidential race to President Obama.
- Net worth is $85 million, per Insider Business