‘Woke, Inc.’ Author’s Startup to Take On BlackRock
By Liz Hoffman and Charley Grant
May 10, 2022
An upstart financial firm backed by Peter Thiel and Bill Ackman has a message for American corporations: Focus on making money, not taking stands.
Vivek Ramaswamy, who made his fortune in pharmaceutical startups before writing a book last year called “Woke, Inc.,” says he has raised $20 million to start a fund manager that would urge companies not to wade into hot-button social or environmental issues. Mr. Thiel invested both personally and through his Founders Fund, joined by Palantir Technologies Inc. PLTR -3.66%decrease; red down pointing triangle co-founder Joe Lonsdale and other venture investors.
Mr. Ramaswamy’s ambitions speak to the culture wars nipping at U.S. corporate executives. Under growing pressure from employees, investors and customers, many have taken public positions on political issues only to face criticism from the other side. Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek recently flip-flopped on whether to weigh in on a controversial Florida law, angering both camps. Coca-Cola Co. and Delta Air Lines Inc. DAL -0.40%decrease; red down pointing triangle received blowback last year for criticizing changes to election rules in Georgia.
The firm, called Strive, will be based far from Wall Street in Mr. Ramaswamy’s home state of Ohio. In an interview Monday, the 36-year-old dubbed his approach “excellence capitalism,” focused on letting companies do what they do best—and nothing else—and inveighed against what he sees as a creeping liberal bias inside BlackRock Inc. BLK -1.40%decrease; red down pointing triangle and its peers, Vanguard Group and State Street Corp., which he called an “ideological cartel.”
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