Venture

As Roivant’s unicorn valuation swells to $7B, Ramaswamy scoops up $200M to back a new burst of startups

Vivek Ramaswamy never hid his ambitions in swiftly building Roivant into a global biopharma player. But now he’s offering some new details about just how successful he’s been in growing the company’s mega-blockbuster unicorn valuation while continuing to bring in significant new amounts of cash to keep adding to the number of companies and drugs under his watch. 

Today Roivant is unveiling a $200 million raise for the company — bringing the total to more than $3 billion from all sources. And the biotech umbrella group — which operates a dozen public and private operations — says this new money came in with a valuation of $7 billion for Roivant — which a company spokesman says is up from $5.6 billion from its last raise in 2017.

What changed?

There are 8 more companies — 14 total now. And there are 20 more drugs, 34 in all, including many late-stage efforts with some grand designs of their own. Where 350 had been working at last year’s raise, Roivant’s many branches now has staff totaling 750.

There are also 6 late-stage readouts on tap for next year. And some of Ramaswamy’s startups, like Datavant, are expected to build revenue.

Matt Bullard

That profile fit the bill for NovaQuest Capital Management — already an investor in 2 of Roivant’s companies — and RTW Investments, which both went public with their investments. There’s also a “large insurance company” backing the latest raise, according to a company spokesperson, which helps illustrate Ramaswamy’s belief that insurers will be doing more investing in their own future. 

“We got to know the team at Roivant and walked away really impressed,” says Matt Bullard at NovaQuest, which has reportedly been working with a $1.5 billion fund that it’s been building. “We like the stable, long-term value that’s there.”

Bullard is also keen about Roivant’s portfolio model, where a lineup of startups are focused quickly on late-stage development projects. The executive crews at each are also incentivized to concentrate on those Phase III studies and get the job done as efficiently as possible, he adds. And the Roivant group continues to launch more new companies every year. 

Ramaswamy, 33, hasn’t reached this point without plenty of controversy. A number of investors remains bitter about his first real test at drug development: a late-stage re-try at Axovant on a failed Alzheimer’s drug. But that setback never slowed him down. The upbeat Ramaswamy has stayed focused on raising cash and valuations for the portfolio organization, and he’s continued to bring in investors willing to bankroll his work.

“We enjoy working with these guys and expect great things,” adds Bullard, whose company is most comfortable backing late-stage projects with a payoff that often comes from royalties and milestones. “They’re quite aggressive about bringing in new programs.”


Image: Vivek Ramaswamy at the US-China Biopharma Innovation and Investment Summit 2018. ENDPOINTS NEWS, PHARMCUBE


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Biotech Investment Analyst
SV Health Investors Boston, MA
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