A new financial firm backed by Peter Thiel and Bill Ackman aims to take the 'woke' out of corporate America - and is taking aim at BlackRock's push for 'stakeholder capitalism' ESG purity tests with several new funds that instead promote "Excellence Capitalism."
Vivek Ramaswamy, author of "Woke, Inc," has raised $20 million to launch "Strive Asset Management," an activist fund which will urge companies to drop unprofitable social justice issues pushed by BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, which Ramaswamy refers to as the "ideological cartel."
The firm seeks to 'restore the voices of everyday citizens in the American economy by leading companies to focus on excellence over politics.'
Strive aims to solve a fiduciary problem created by the three largest U.S. asset managers — BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street — which control over $20 trillion in assets, exceeding the total U.S. gross domestic product. These "Big 3" firms bear a fiduciary duty to advance the best interests of their clients. Yet in the name of "stakeholder capitalism," they use their clients’ funds to exercise decisive influence over nearly every U.S. public company to advance political ideologies that many of their clients disagree with. They engage in coordinated efforts to enact a uniform social agenda across corporate America resulting in higher gas prices and other consumer harms, which Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich recently called "the biggest antitrust violation in history." -Business Wire
"Over the last two years, I have traveled the country and listened to the concerns of everyday Americans who want to be heard in the places where they shop, work and invest," said Ramaswamy. "We want iconic American brands like Disney, Coca-Cola and Exxon, and U.S. tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Google to deliver high-quality products that improve our lives, not controversial political ideologies that divide us. The Big 3 asset managers have fueled this polarizing new trend in corporate America, and that’s why we’re going to compete with them head-on to refocus American companies on the shared pursuit of excellence over politics."
In one famous example of the "ideological cartel," all three companies sided against Exxon Mobil Corp in its fight against a hedge fund that criticized its climate change strategy.
Ramaswamy has the exact opposite approach.
"We will tell oil companies to be excellent oil companies and coal companies to be excellent coal companies and solar companies to be excellent solar companies," he told the Wall Street Journal.
As the Journal notes, billionaire Peter Thiel 'invested both personally and through his Founders Fund, along with Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale and other venture investors.' They also received funding from the Founders Fund, Narya Capital and Flex Capital. Others include Dorado Group Chairman William Kappaz, Cantor Fitzgerald Chairman and CEO Howard Lutnick, energy industry veteran C.R. Sincock II, famed chemist and HIV therapy pioneer Professor Raymond Schinazi, QOL Medical CEO Derick Cooper, and rock musician and venture capitalist D.A. Wallach.