(Los Angeles) Value Creation can often come through the dogged pursuit of excellence by individuals. One of the things I wanted to outline in this series is that it could come from various fields of endeavor that are unrelated to finance.
One of the most dynamic and fast fortunes created was by a person who is often dubbed the wealthiest man in LA–Dr. Patrick Soon Shiong. While deliberate and soft spoken, Patrick speaks purposely and specifically. I initially met Patrick in LA but sat down with him in Chicago over breakfast
Few stories can match the rise of Dr. Pat Soon Shiong, raised in apartheid South Africa the son of Chinese National parents–Pat epitomizes the international diaspora. After graduating from high school at the age of 16, he received his medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand at the age of 23. He later earned a Master Degree of Science from the University of British Columbia, and afterwards moved to the United States to begin his surgical training. He began his career as a member of the faculty at UCLA Medical School in the early 1980s, and remained there until 1991. While he was there he performed the first whole pancreatic transplant surgery at UCLA.
Pat eventually left the school to found VivoRx, a diabetes research firm. During this time he conducted groundbreaking research, including inventing the first FDA approved nanoparticle metastatic breast cancer treatment, performing the world’s first encapsulated islet transplant, and co-inventing over 50 U.S. patents. He expanded his research to cancer studies and founded VivoRx Pharmaceuticals, which later became American Pharmaceutical Partners. This company would merge with American BioScience to form Abraxis. After much success, Soon-Shiong split Abraxis into two different companies and prepared them for sale. In 2008, he sold American Pharmaceutical Partners for $5.6 billion to Fresenius SE. In 2010, he sold Abraxis BioScience to Celgene for over $3 billion the sale of the company’s value centered on the creation of a cancer drug (Abraxane) that dramatically increases the efficacy of others when used in a cocktail. Pat shared with me that he had defined the process years before but that the industry hadn’t quite caught up with him. He was adamant about the value of his company and had decided to take it back private as he felt that the market valuation wasn’t correct. Patrick had one rule and a very specific thought on investing with others; ” Invest in yourself and the people you believe in.”
With the sale of his two companies, he now has an estimated net worth of roughly $10 billion. He is one of only three biotech billionaires in the U.S. who is also a physician. Patrick remains the only Forbes 400 list who is also a physician, although he has other interests outside medicine most notably in sports. This was evident when he increased his investment in the LA Lakers, Patrick famously bought his stake from Magic Johnson–supposedly because he wanted better seats, so he now owns 4.5% and is a fixture at the arena.
Soon-Shiong remains deeply invested in the healthcare industry, and currently oversees his own non-profit with his wife, the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health (CSS). His goal is to find ways to reform the healthcare industry, by connecting doctors, scientists, and academic centers. Aside from his own non-profit, he and his wife Michelle continue to invest and donate their money to various health IT projects, aimed at improving the medical system across the globe.
In 2011 he founded a new company, NantWorks. This company’s mission is to use ultra-low power semi-conductor technology with supercomputing to transform the way we “work, play, and live”. Patrick epitomizes the pursuit of excellence and value creation, like many billionaires he has adopted the Buffet pledge and plans to give at least half of his fortune away. If Nantworks is typical of Pt’s other work he may have a hard time meeting his commitment.