Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong
$8 billion

Movie moguls, meh. The man known as the richest person in Los Angeles made most of his moolah from the biopharma business.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has diversified his pharma fortune into industries such as sports and entertainment as well as many things digital via his company NantWorks. And, in addition to his existing stake in the LA Lakers, his name had landed on a short list of bidders for the real estate and sports powerhouse AEG before the sale process was jettisoned in recent weeks. But his non-pharma pursuits have in no way diminished his commitment to advancing next-generation patient treatments.

At NantWorks, Soon-Shiong maintains a strong interest advancing digital medicine and next-generation therapies. Early this year he came out with details about his cancer drug developer NantOmics. In July, Blackstone Group scooped up a $125 million stake in his related venture NantPharma, a maker and researcher of biologically derived drugs. And he has made either purchases or investments in diagnostics, digital medicine and other healthcare assets since he unveiled NantWorks in 2011.  

If wannabe billionaires learn anything from the Soon-Shiong story, they should pay attention to how he seems to understand the value of biopharma assets and how they all complement each other better than anyone at the bargaining table. His skills in negotiation and evaluation showed in the sales of his APP Pharmaceuticals to Fresenius in 2008 for $5.6 billion and his APP spinoff Abraxis BioScience to Celgene ($CELG) in 2010 for $2.9 billion. Forbes estimates his fortune as of March at $8 billion.

Soon-Shiong spun off Abraxis from APP in 2007 and the biotech advanced Abraxane, the first nanoparticle albumin-bound cancer drug to gain FDA approval. After Celgene paid megabucks to acquire Abraxis, Soon-Shiong bought back a library of kinase inhibitors, which he is now developing at NantOmics.

Through various vehicles, Soon-Shiong has gained control of the 12,000-mile fiber-optic network of the National LambdaRail and established supercomputing capabilities to rapidly analyze data from tumor samples. The network can zap data from the computer analyses to physicians, who can then use the information to guide personalized treatments against cancer.

With NantOmics and assets from NantHealth, Soon-Shiong hopes to rapidly advance development of new combination therapies against cancer. And his network reaches some 8,000 oncologists, he recently told Bloomberg TV. So he has many pieces of his new healthcare empire in motion, and it will be interesting to watch how his latest ventures progress.

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Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong