Bill Ackman and Peter Thiel back an investment firm that takes on ‘woke’ capitalism

Pershing Square Capital boss Bill Ackman and tech billionaire Peter Thiel are among investors backing a fledgling fund that aims to lead a movement against politically influenced “stakeholder capitalism”.

Called Strive Asset Management, the fund was founded by pharmaceutical investor Vivek Ramaswamy – who is also the author of a bestselling book called “Woke, Inc.” the one published last year.

The Ohio-based company has raised more than $20 million from investors with a mandate to pursue an asset management strategy focused “on excellence rather than politics.”

Americans “want iconic American brands like Disney, Coca-Cola and Exxon, and American tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Google to deliver high-quality products that improve our lives, not controversial political ideologies that divide us,” Ramaswamy said in a statement.

Ramaswamy launched the fund during a time of increasing scrutiny of companies choosing to take sides in political debates.

Vivek Ramaswamy is the author of a best-selling book titled “Woke, Inc.”
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The most notable example occurred in recent weeks, when Disney publicly criticized Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law after facing immense pressure from labor-minded workers. progressive.

Disney’s decision sparked a public dispute with Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who led an effort to revoke the company’s special tax status within the state.

Pierre Thiel
Peter Thiel has invested in Strive both personally and through his Founders Fund.
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Ramaswamy said his firm will try to directly compete with asset management giants such as BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street.

“The Big Three asset managers have fueled this polarizing new trend in American business, and that is why we will compete head-on with them to refocus American business on the common pursuit of excellence rather than politics,” added Ramaswamy.

Representatives for BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bill Acman
Vivek Ramaswamy’s company has raised more than $20 million from Ackman (pictured) and others.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink defended ‘stakeholder capitalism‘ against criticism in his annual letter to CEOs published in January – arguing that the concept was ‘not about politics’ or ‘woke’, but rather a necessity for long-term financial success.

“It’s capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers and communities your business relies on to thrive,” Fink said in his letter. “That’s the power of capitalism.”

Fink added that companies should not bow to political pressure when considering policies despite activists’ efforts to “hijack your brand to advance their own agendas.”

In addition to Ackman and Thiel, Strive Asset Management has secured funding from major venture capital firms such as the Founders Fund – of which Thiel is a partner – and Flex Capital as well as other individual investors such as Palantir co-founder, Joe Lonsdale.

Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, has become increasingly focused on politics in recent years. The billionaire is leaving the board of Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and is reportedly spending his time backing Republican candidates ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

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