BIOTECH

Magic Mushroom Firm Tripping Its Way to an IPO

March 4, 2021



Atai Life Sciences is a unique kind of biotech company, and that’s probably why it attracted the interest of a unique investor in Peter Thiel.

Of course, Thiel is famously an early investor in Facebook and a VC billionaire. 

Atai is a startup based in Germany that is exploring the use psychedelic substances to treat mental-health disorders including depression, anxiety and addiction.

Novel substances
Atai is looking at a few different substances to treat mental health disorders:

  • Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms; and
  • Ibogaine, an ancient African plant being tested for its potential to cure addiction.

Mainstream adoption
Once only the domain of hippies, psilocybin has gained credibility as a medical treatment for depression and other conditions.

One of Atai’s founders, Christian Angermayer, actually led the Series D financing along with Thiel for $157 million.  Angermayer said “moments such as this show the importance of our work” to find alternative treatments for mental health disorders.

Series D financing
Thiel invested $12 in the firm during its Series C financing.  Atai’s Series D financing was for $157 million at around a $2B valuation.  According to Business Insider, Atai may be doing an IPO as early as this spring.  

Those mushrooms definitely have some magic.


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