Atai Life Sciences AG, a German startup looking into ways of using magic mushrooms to treat mental-health disorders, has been valued at about US$2 billion in a funding round ahead of its potential listing, people familiar with the matter said.
Berlin-based Atai plans to hire Credit Suisse Group AG and Citigroup Inc. for a potential U.S. initial public offering that could take place as early as the second quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
The company confirmed in a statement it raised US$157 million in a Series D financing round led by founder Christian Angermayer and Thiel Capital, the investment firm backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel. New investors including biotechnology fund Woodline Partners also participated, according to the statement.
A spokesman for Atai declined to comment on the company’s valuation or potential IPO plans. A representative for Credit Suisse declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Citigroup didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Once stigmatized as hippie drugs, hallucinogenic substances like psilocybin have in recent years gained credibility as medical treatments for depression and other conditions. Angermayer, a 42-year old German investor, has been vocal about their positive effects.
“The funding round highlights the significance and relevance of new ways for treating mental health disorders,” he said in a phone interview.
Atai is acquiring and incubating treatments for conditions including depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health disorders. Proceeds from the fundraising will support the expansion of Atai’s development pipeline. The company has more than a dozen drug candidates in trials including psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms, as well as ibogaine, an ancient African plant it’s testing for its potential to cure addiction.