For South African-born Patrick Soon-Shiong, 2018 was a year of big developments. The Los Angeles Times reported in February that the billionaire would be purchasing both the Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune via his investment firm Nant Capital for approximately half a billion dollars, making Soon-Shiong one of the only Asian-Americans to have a significant ownership stake in a major American newspaper. Soon-Shiong’s NantEnergy, an energy storage solutions company, announced a breakthrough development of a low-cost zinc air battery in September; the battery is projected to cost less than a third of traditional lithium-ion batteries. Soon-Shiong has also stayed close to his health care roots this year, revealing the development of a promising new “memory cancer vaccine” by his NantKwest company at November’s Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer meeting. On top of everything else, Soon-Shiong holds firm at number 68 on the Forbes 400 list with a projected net worth of $6.8 billion, making him perhaps the wealthiest person in Los Angeles.
All of these developments build on Soon-Shiong’s already impressive career and indelible impact on the health care sector. After receiving his medical degree at 23 from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Soon-Shiong completed his surgical training at UCLA Medical School and served on the faculty there until 1991. That year, Soon-Shiong made his first steps into the health care business sector, founding a cancer and diabetes biotechnology firm.
Soon-Shiong went on to found APP Pharmaceuticals in 1997; he later sold his 80 percent stake in the company to Fresenius SE for $4.6 billion. Abraxis BioScience came next, making and distributing the cancer treatment drug Abrazane that Soon-Shiong co-discovered. The sale of Abraxis BioScience to Celgene in 2010 netted Soon-Shiong an additional $3 billion.
Soon-Shiong’s latest ventures mainly fall under his NantWorks umbrella and touch upon several diverse sectors including semiconductor technology, energy and supercomputing. However, his presence in the health care sector remains strong as he continues to spearhead innovations in cancer treatment, genetic sequencing, diagnostics and more via his NantHealth, NantOmics and NantKwest subsidiaries. His next move looks to continue his track record of successful health care companies: he’s announced plans to take new company Nant public and use the IPO funds to develop a new pipeline of cancer treatment drugs.