For too long, Vivek Ramaswamy says the biggest asset managers — think Black Rock, Vanguard and State Street — have been more concerned about politics than performance when it comes to where they invest.
Now Ramaswamy has started a new Greater Columbus-based asset management company, called Strive Assessment Management, that he says will do on the opposite.
His firm has raised more than $20 million from some of the biggest names in business to back him. The company expects to launch its first product this fall.
“The mission of the company is to restore the voice of the everyday citizen,” said Ramaswamy, who co-founded the company with Anson Frericks this year.
Strive argues that Blackrock, Vanguard and State Street, which control more than $20 trillion in assets, practice what’s called stakeholder capitalism in that they use client funds to advance what he calls ideologies that some don’t like, such as fighting climate change and ensuring representation for women and minorities on corporate boards.
Backers for the new company include PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, fund manager Bill Ackman, Cantor Fitzgerald Chairman and CEO Howard Lutnick and others.
Ramaswamy has built these kinds of connections over the years as a conservative author and as a hedge fund executive.
He wrote “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam” and is the founder and executive chairman of Roivant Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the application of technology to drug development.
Corporate advocacy for progressive issues is creating fiduciary problems and causing companies to be less focused on their mission and paying more attention to social and political issues, such as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines becoming involved in Georgia’s new election law or Disney’s fight against Florida’s discriminatory law that’s been called “Don’t Say Gay.”
“The mission of the company is to restore the voice of the everyday citizen in the economy by advancing a simple worldview in corporate American board rooms: Pursue excellence in your products and services to your customers over any other agenda, including social and political agendas,” Ramaswamy said. In a country evenly divided on many, if not most, issues, he doesn’t explain who he thinks this everyday citizen is, or what they believe, exactly.
Ramaswamy said many investors don’t even know that the money from their investment accounts or retirement accounts end up with one of the big investment firms, much less that some of these firms promote issues that may run counter to conservative beliefs.
“They’re advancing one viewpoint and that’s a viewpoint to advance a certain political and social agenda that most of their ultimate clients disagree with,’’ he said, though he provided no data to back the claim that “most” clients disagree.
Ramaswamy believes that investors don’t have other choices.
“The eye-opening moment for me was actually that there isn’t a diversity of opinions and voices reflected in today’s institutional asset management industry,” he said.
The founders are both from Cincinnati and met in high school. The company’s offices are in Dublin for now as the two fill out their staff, which now has 10 employees.