- Entrepreneur and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy announced he was ending his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Monday, after collecting only 7.7% of votes and finishing in fourth place in the Iowa caucuses, per data from the Associated Press.
- The political newcomer endorsed former President Donald Trump shortly after and said the country needed “an America-First patriot” in the White House. “[I] will do everything I can to make sure he is the next U.S. President,” Ramaswamy wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
- The activist investor, who has been a vocal critic of ESG initiatives, launched Strive Asset Management two years ago to advocate for an “anti-woke” investing policy that departed from prioritizing environmental and social goals, and leaned on a “profit first” strategy.
Ramaswamy appeared in New Hampshire on Tuesday to affirm his support for Trump, and urged Republicans to reject former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s bid for the nomination, claiming her campaign was backed by Democrats.
Aside from criticizing ESG frameworks and their role in investment policies, Ramaswamy has openly bashed climate change and the environmental crisis. During his first Republican debate in August last year, he labeled the “climate change agenda” a “hoax” when asked if he believed human behavior was causing climate change.
“The reality is, the anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy … more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change,” he added.
On the corporate finance front, Ramaswamy’s Strive launched in 2022 with exchange traded funds such as the Strive U.S. Energy ETF (DRLL), which currently has $315.92 million in assets under management. The fund seeks broad market exposure to the U.S. energy sector but, unlike other energy sector funds, has an anti-ESG proxy voting policy, meaning it primarily votes against ESG-aligned proposals at shareholder meetings.
During the September GOP presidential primary debate, Ramaswamy said he founded Strive to compete with BlackRock — the nation’s largest asset manager which he has openly accused for promoting an “ESG agenda,” calling BlackRock a member of “the most powerful cartel in human history.”
Ramaswamy said in a December post on X that BlackRock’s investment priorities — along with those of State Street’s and Vanguard’s — raise “serious fiduciary, antitrust, and conflict-of-interest concerns,” and that he would “cut off the real hand that guides the ESG movement” if he became president.
Strive, which now manages 11 ETFs, is at the front of a growing movement that rejects environmental, social and governance initiatives when making investment decisions. Conservative-led states such as Florida and Texas are campaigning and stepping up regulatory measures to ban consideration of ESG in their states’ funds and policies, while at least 19 states have at least one anti-ESG law on their books as of August.