Happy Birthday, Vivek Ramaswamy—Here’s a $1.1 Billion Present

Published: Aug 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, Vivek Ramaswamy—Here’s a $1.1 Billion Present August 9, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Roivant Sciences’ founder, Vivek Ramaswamy, received a rather extravagant gift today on his 32nd birthday—a $1.1 billion equity investment, led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

A former hedge fund manager, Ramaswamy is noted for his big deals and a new approach to biopharma development. John Carroll, writing for Endpoints News, notes, “New CEOs at Eli Lilly , GSK , Alexion , Biogen and others are all in the process of kicking loose early- and late-stage assets as they try to create some excitement around their pipelines. That in turn will create new opportunities for Ramaswamy and the biotech entrepreneurs backed by VCs who like to grab the most promising assets and build companies around them. It’s a new business model, and its day has fully arrived. Ramaswamy will not be hunting for money to play a global role on this stage.”

Ramaswamy’s strategy is generally to acquire cast-off drugs from larger companies. His most notable, and one that is likely going to hit a put-up-or-shut-up point soon, is his company Axovant , which acquired initepirdine for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease for $5 million from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The company’s MINSET clinical trial is expected to announce topline results in late September 2017.

Roivant Sciences is Ramaswamy’s umbrella company that has various subsidiary “Vants.” Axovant focuses on neurology, Myovant Sciences on women’s health and endocrine disease, Dermavant on dermatology, Enzyvant on rare diseases, and Urovant on urology.

The latest investor, SoftBank Vision Fund, is a $100 billion private equity fund from Japan’s SoftBank that has significant contributions from the Saudis and various tech companies like Apple and Sharp. Existing investors also joined in the $1.1 billion investment. This investment brings Ramaswamy’s total to $2.5 billion or more in three years, including funds from initial public offerings (IPOs) for Axovant (AXON) and Myovant (MYOV). As Carroll notes, “By any measure, that’s an extraordinary sum for a group that has yet to see pivotal data on any of its drugs.”

In addition to the equity raise, Ramaswamy launched another subsidiary, Datavant. The company indicates that “Datavant aims to dissolve barriers between siloed healthcare datasets in order to unlock novel insights and reduce the time and cost of delivering innovative medicines to patients.”

That sounds a lot like it’s moving into territory currently being mined by Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook. Carroll suggests that the plan is to collect and collate data from clinical trials that will allow the various “Vants” to identify and develop new drugs more efficiently. He writes, “The 32-year-old exec has created a company model in which a growing lineup of biotech companies operate under one umbrella, tapping the mother ship for core services like IT. And while most pharmas like to focus on two or three or four diseases, Ramaswamy wants to go in multiple directions, moving faster and more efficiently than the industry has ever managed to achieve.”

“Roivant has attracted world-class talent in its pursuit of developing and commercializing drugs that target large unmet medical needs,” said Akshay Naheta,managing director of SoftBank Group International, in a statement. “We are impressed with the ambition and track record of the Roivant team and look forward to supporting them in the next step of their journey, as they look to effectively harness technology and leverage big data across all aspects of their business.”

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