From Roivant to the White House on anti-woke agenda: Ramaswamy unveils presidential bid

Not content with overseeing his ever-expanding ‘vant’ empire, Roivant founder Vivek Ramaswamy has set his sights on a far more ambitions goal: the White House.

In a slick video posted to social media yesterday, Ramaswamy announced his run, while taking aim at the “woke left” as well as “new secular religions like COVID-ism, climate-ism and gender ideology.”

In an announcement at around the same time, Roivant confirmed that Ramaswamy had “stepped down from the company’s board of directors to focus on his U.S. presidential campaign.”

It’s a remarkable career turn for a tech entrepreneur who founded Roivant back in 2014. The company went on to birth over 20 “vant” subsidiaries with varying levels of success, including six approved products to date. Notable offshoots are immunology-focused Immunovant, whose prized asset batoclimab is currently in three potentially registrational studies, and dermatology-focused Dermavant, whose Vtama cream is the first and only steroid-free, FDA-approved medication in its class for adults with plaque psoriasis.

However, Ramaswamy’s campaign video doesn’t draw on this biotech background or any healthcare issues beyond a passing reference to the controversy around the antiparasitic ivermectin. Aiming to rally his voter coalition, Ramaswamy says, “You might disagree with each other about corporate tax rates or about whether ivermectin treats COVID—but those are details.”

Instead, Ramaswamy describes an “identity crisis” in the country, while pledging to restore a sense of “American exceptionalism.” The views aren’t surprising for an entrepreneur once described by the New Yorker as “the CEO of Anti-Woke, Inc.” Ramaswamy has also set out his opinions in two books, while announcing his candidacy live on Fox New’s Tucker Carlson show last night.

His presidential bid is unlikely to make much of an impact back at Roivant, however, where Ramaswamy handed over CEO duties to Matt Gline in January 2021, while continuing to serve as chairman. Since then, Roivant has suffered its share of setbacks. The company went public in a SPAC merger at arguably the worst possible time, in May 2021, three months after biotech capital markets started to depreciate from their overheated value spurred by the pandemic. Last year, the company cut 12% of staff, joining more than a hundred other biopharmas that had to lay off employees in 2022. 

Last month, Gline admitted to Fierce Biotech that “the last two years didn't go as planned for Roivant,” while setting out his vision for the company’s rebound.