Indian-American anti-ESG crusader Vivek Ramaswamy launches US presidential bid

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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.

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“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.

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 co-founded Strive with former Anheuser-Busch Inbev SA executive Anson Frericks, who will continue to run the firm.

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