Article | January 15, 2024

Where Are They Now? Roivant

Source: Life Science Leader
Ben Comer_2022_1

By Ben Comer, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader

Vivek Ramaswamy
Vivek Ramaswamy

Then: During the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference in 2017, former Life Science Leader chief editor Rob Wright sat down with Roivant Sciences founder and CEO Vivek Ramaswamy to learn about the company’s plan to rescue abandoned drug candidates, while also reducing the average time and cost of development. During the interview, Ramaswamy emphasized the importance of the team he had hired to accomplish those goals, and talked through his process of evaluating potential hires to understand whether they are “talkers,” or “doers.” Ramaswamy preferred doers, and once hired, staff could expect to receive an unusual proposal, modeled on a similar policy used by the retailer Zappos. After two months of onboarding – a time during which Ramaswamy made it a point to meet with every new hire, either individually or in a group – each hire would receive a form asking them to opt in to full employment at Roivant, or to opt out. Individuals choosing to opt in were required to state the reasons why they wanted to continue working at Roivant. Individuals choosing to opt out would leave the company and receive a “very attractive financial package.” Turning down a large package to continue working at Roivant symbolized “that each day an employee walks in the front door, they want to be here,” said Ramaswamy at the time.

Now: Roivant went on to build a stable of subsidiary “vant” companies, and withstood a series of ups and downs, before selling five subsidiary companies to Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma in 2019, launching new companies, forming new partnerships, and joining the race in 2020 to find a treatment for COVID-19. In January of 2021, Ramaswamy stepped down as CEO, and in February of 2023, announced his campaign to become the forty-seventh president of the United States. Roivant CEO Matt Gline bristles when he is asked – regularly – about Ramaswamy’s turn into politics, and prefers to talk up positive data reads on the company’s current compounds. As Ramaswamy’s days as a candidate likely come to a close, he has suggested a quite different policy for handling government workforce, should he be elected president: randomness. The best way to reduce the number of employees in the federal government might be to do it based on Social Security number; for example, if the last digit of your social security number is odd, you’re out (no opting). “Non-discretionary firings are legally defensible and avoid civil service rules,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. No comment was made on the kind of financial package outgoing government employees might receive.