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.
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.
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.