Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, says we should — and he’s one of those billionaires. In 2018, Soon-Shiong — who minted his fortune by inventing a cancer drug in the 1990s — scooped up the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and a group of smaller newspapers for a cool $500 million. Since then, he’s been obsessed with two things: modernizing his media empire and continuing his medical pursuits, most recently with an experimental Covid-19 vaccine.
In this conversation, Soon-Shiong and Kara Swisher discuss why he bought the L.A. Times, his plans for it and why he didn’t do more to save other local papers from the jaws of a newsroom-slashing hedge fund. They also delve into his medical background, his take on how the Covid-19 pandemic will become endemic in unvaccinated communities and the job he says he passed up in the Trump administration.