New York: Vivek Ramaswamy, the activist investor who launched a firm last year to pressure companies to abandon environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives, said on Tuesday he would run for President of the United States.
Ramaswamy, 37, will step down as executive chairman of Strive Asset Management, which raised more than $650 million from investors in less than six months, to pursue his bid for the presidency in 2024, according to the firm's website.
"We've celebrated our 'diversity' so much that we forgot all the ways we're really the same as Americans, bound by ideals that united a divided, headstrong group of people 250 years ago," Ramaswamy tweeted on Tuesday following his announcement.
A former biotechnology investor and executive, Ramaswamy will pursue the Republican nomination in what is shaping up to be a crowded field.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are among those considering mounting a challenge to former President Donald Trump, who has already announced his candidacy and is, according to most opinion polls, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley has also announced her candidacy.
A political outsider, Ramaswamy rose to prominence in 2021 as the author of "Woke Inc: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam". His new firm bought small stakes in some of the world's biggest companies, including Chevron Corp, BlackRock Inc, Walt Disney Co and Apple Inc , and called on them to drop ESG policies such as advancing diversity or cutting carbon emissions in order to focus on their profits.
Ramaswamy co-founded Strive with former Anheuser-Busch Inbev SA executive Anson Frericks, who will continue to run the firm.
It is unclear how much impact Strive has had on the companies it pressured. But Ramaswamy's contrarian message made him popular in conservative political circles and a regular guest on cable TV shows.
Ramaswamy, whose family is from Palakkad in Kerala, is the co-founder of two technology companies and a financial management firm, as well as the founder of a pharmaceutical company, which made him a multimillionaire at age 37.
According to Politico, he has a net worth of $500 million which can fund his campaign.
Ramaswamy is the fourth Indian-American to make a bid for a presidential nomination, and the third in the Republican Party after former Louisiana Governor Piyush Bobby Jindal, who ran unsuccessfully in 2016, and Haley, who was the first from the community to serve on the US cabinet and is in the 2024 race. Kamala Harris sought the Democratic nomination for 2020, but dropped out and was picked by President Joe Biden to be the vice president.
Ramaswamy made his mark as a writer of two best-sellers that blasted what he calls the "woke" culture.
He is appealing to the same crowd as Trump that sees the US being undone by liberal policies and the power of what they see as an elite.
"Faith, patriotism and hard work have disappeared, only to be replaced by new secular religions like aCovidism', aclimatism' and gender ideology," Ramaswamy said in his video.
He stressed his opposition to affirmative action programmes for minorities that have some similarities to the reservations in India.
"The American dream means you believe in merit, that you get ahead in this country, not on the colour of your skin, but on the content of your character and your contributions," he said.
He also took on the "cancel culture" that targets people opposing the politically correct dogmas exposing them to media attacks and even punitive actions that he called the "culture of fear".