An outspoken critic of so-called “awakened capitalism” is publicly urging corporate giants Apple and Disney to keep politics out of their businesses.
Vivek Ramaswamy, the founder of investment firm Strive Asset Management, urged Apple and Disney to prioritize profits while avoiding political discussions that could harm their brands.
Strive has acquired stakes in every company since inception earlier this year, with a mission to challenge companies’ emphasis on environmental, social and governance standards, otherwise known as “ESG.”
Ramaswamy, author of the best-selling book, Woke, Inc., argued that Disney’s decision to engage in political debates, such as For example, the kerfuffle over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law carries the risk of financial damage to shareholders with little to no benefit to the company’s bottom line.
“Disney must make it clear that it will no longer take a political stance on issues unrelated to its core business,” Ramaswamy wrote in the letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek. “The company must make it clear that it will stand by that promise and that it will not falter no matter how important a particular social cause is to Disney employees or its Twitter followers.”
Ramaswamy cited an NBC News poll that showed Disney’s public approval rating has fallen to 33% from 77% this year — a number he described as an “unprecedented collapse following Disney’s public endorsement of controversial political positions out of deference to social activists.” .
Disney’s public criticism of Florida’s Republican-backed bill culminated in Gov. Ron DeSantis rescinding the company’s special tax status within the state. Meanwhile, Disney employees from both sides of the political spectrum questioned the company’s response to the situation.
Strive’s letter to Disney called for company officials to create a “formal company policy” stating that the company would not take any political positions unless the issue directly impacted its business interests.
The notice also called on the company to make a “public commitment of political non-discrimination” to employees and customers and base its decisions “solely on Disney’s long-term viability, without regard to social, cultural or political pressures from employees, activist groups or other interested parties.
In a similar letter to Apple Chairman Arthur Levinson and CEO Tim Cook, Ramaswamy urged the iPhone maker to thwart a proposed “racial justice audit” of its business practices. He added that Apple’s “hiring should be based on merit — not race, gender, or politics.”
Ramaswamy noted that BlackRock, the wealth management giant that owns a 6.4% stake in Apple, has supported calls for an audit. BlackRock has embraced ESG under CEO Larry Fink.
“We’re concerned that Apple has come under intense pressure over the past year from its major institutional “shareholders” — including BlackRock, the world’s largest wealth manager — to implement value-destroying HR policies that threaten Apple’s ability to hire top talent in the future.” , he wrote.
Apple agreed to conduct a racial justice review after shareholders voted in favor of the proposal earlier this year. Company executives initially resisted the review, arguing that their hiring plan “already met the stated objective” of the review.
The Post has reached out to representatives from Apple, Disney, BlackRock and Strive for comment.
Ramaswamy’s Strive Asset Management received financial backing from conservative tech billionaire Peter Thiel and Pershing Square Capital boss Bill Ackman ahead of its debut. The Ohio-based company initially secured more than $20 million in funding from outside investors.
In a statement at the time, Ramaswamy argued that Americans “want iconic American brands like Disney, Coca-Cola and Exxon and US tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Google to deliver quality products that improve our lives, not controversial political ideologies who divide us.”