Biotech entrepreneur and former Roivant Sciences CEO Vivek Ramaswamy dropped out of the presidential race after he ranked fourth place in the Iowa caucuses Monday night.

Ramaswamy, who was running for the Republican nomination, was surpassed in delegates by Nikki Haley in third and Ron DeSantis second. Donald Trump came in first with 20 delegates, as of Tuesday afternoon.

“As of this moment, we are going to suspend this presidential campaign,” Ramaswamy said in his announcement. “There’s no path for me to be the next president, absent things we don’t want to see happen in this country.”

After announcing he would leave the race, Ramaswamy went on to endorse Trump for president.

“As I’ve said since the beginning, there are two America First candidates in this race,” Ramaswamy continued. “And earlier tonight I called Donald Trump to tell him that I congratulated him on his victory, and now going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency.”

Beginnings at Roivant

Ramaswamy, a multi-millionaire, funded a large chunk of his campaign with the money he made in the pharma industry. 

In 2014, he founded Roivant Sciences with the strategy of buying up patents from Big Pharma companies for drugs that hadn’t been developed yet and advancing them to commercialization.

Roivant became known for its move to launch subsidiary Axovant Sciences in 2015, with Ramaswamy raising $360 million in funding for it. At the center of the launch was intepirdine, an Alzheimer’s drug that had been purchased from GlaxoSmithKline after it failed four clinical trials.

At the time, Ramaswamy boasted that the move would be “the highest return on investment endeavor ever taken up” in the pharmaceutical industry.

Raising $315 million in its IPO, Axovant gained plenty of popularity in the biotech world, buoyed by Ramaswamy’s ability to sell the drug as a potential breakthrough. However, Axovant failed to prove intepirdine was effective: The drug failed in a large clinical trial in 2017, and the company lost 75% of its value in one day.

Roivant went on to partner with Chinese state-owned Citic Group’s private equity business to launch Sinovant in 2018, bringing with it a pipeline of 11 investigational drugs.

From biotech to politics

Ramaswamy stepped down as CEO of Roivant in early 2021 but stayed on as executive chairman until February 2023, when he stepped away entirely to focus on the presidential campaign.

During his campaign, Ramaswamy called himself a “scientist,” arguing that he “developed a number of medicines.” However, aside from an undergraduate degree in biology, Ramaswamy had no scientific training and instead spent the majority of his career as an entrepreneur.

He also sought to brand himself as a Trump disciple, referring to his policy agenda as “America First 2.0.” He formed that agenda around referring to identity politics as a “scam,” as reflected in his book, Woke, Inc.

The conservative outsider also heavily pushed the idea of banning kids from using social media platforms, equating the products to addictions and calling TikTok “digital fentanyl.” 

Ramaswamy amassed a considerable presence on TikTok profile with more than 350,000 followers – posting dozens of videos throughout his campaign, most recently just a few days ago discussing the upcoming Iowa caucuses.

Despite campaigning against the use of social media among kids, Ramaswamy admitted in a TikTok video himself that he started a profile to reach younger voters.

“The Republican party is going nowhere unless we reach young voters where they actually are,” Ramaswamy argued in a November 2023 TikTok video.

@vivekramaswamy.2024

Let’s bring along the younger Iowan generation on January 15th.

♬ Chill Vibes – Tollan Kim

Ramaswamy was also opposed to the H-1B visa program, which employers use to bring in skilled workers from abroad to the U.S.

When it comes to abortion, Ramaswamy said he didn’t support a national abortion ban — but he has called himself pro-life and supports six-week bans at the state level.

The biotech entrepreneur also split slightly from his party’s typical stance on drugs, noting that he supported the decriminalization of certain drugs like psychedelics, and that he wasn’t a “war on drugs’ person.” He did, however, posit that he would use the military to “annihilate the Mexican drug cartels if necessary.”

Ramaswamy also made controversial claims on the trail, espousing his belief that the media was preventing him from speaking the “truth” about the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Interestingly, throughout the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses, the Trump campaign generally treated Ramaswamy warmly. Just a few days prior to the caucuses, though, Trump changed his tune and labeled him a “fraud.”

“Vivek started his campaign as a great supporter,” Trump wrote on Truth Social this week. “Unfortunately, now all he does is disguise his support in the form of deceitful campaign tricks.”

Still, Ramaswamy posted on X late Monday night that “This campaign is about speaking the TRUTH… [I] will do everything I can to make sure [Trump] is the next U.S. president.”