Biotech Startup ATAI, Backed by Peter Thiel, to Raise $100 Million in an IPO

By Mariliana Fotopoulou Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Biotech startup ATAI Life Sciences, backed by entrepreneur Peter Thiel, said it is looking to raise $100 million in an initial public offering (IPO).

Hands holding a digital brain.

Focus on Treating Mental Illness

The European biotech startup, which develops psychedelic drugs to treat mental health disorders, said it filed an S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday.

The company is set to list its shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the symbol “ATAI,” while it still hasn’t decided on an IPO date. The biotech startup hired Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Cowen, and Berenberg as lead underwriters for its IPO.

Accordingly, ATAI has secured $362.3 million in total private funding to date. The drug development company was founded to buy, incubate, and make psychedelic and other types of drugs to treat anxiety, addiction, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Currently, the business has about 50 employees across Berlin, New York, and San Diego and holds business partnerships with other 14 drug developers and tech companies. ATAI also helps scientists raise capital, meet regulatory requirements, and perform clinical trials. None of the company’s drugs have obtained regulatory approval yet.

The biotech startup is backed by Peter Thiel, who has injected €10 million ($12 million) into the company through his venture capital (VC) company, Thiel Capital. This business investment was made as a part of a private funding round after the startup raised $125 million in November.

In addition to Thiel, who led the funding round, other investors who participated in the Series C funding round include Apeiron Investment Group, Catalio Capital Management, Future Ventures, Galaxy Investment Partners, Falcon Edge Capital, and Pura Vida.

“ATAI’s great virtue is to take mental illness as seriously as we should have been taking all illness all along. The biotech company’s most valuable asset is its sense of urgency,” Peter Thiel told CNBC earlier.

ATAI was founded three years ago by entrepreneurs Christian Angermayer, Florian Brand, Lars Wilde, and Srinivas Rao. The company has backed Compass Pathways, a mental health care company that is also backed by Peter Thiel. Compass went public on the Nasdaq in September of last year, and it currently bears a business valuation of about $1.2 billion.

The interest in certain psychedelics has been on the rise since clinical trials showed that some of these drugs could help patients with certain mental health disorders, either in combination with traditional drugs or not.

“The current treatments (for mental health issues) which are out there are definitely not sufficient,” said co-founder Christian Angermayer.

“I don’t want to say they don’t work as all because some people are helped by them but they’re not sufficient.”

The startup business said it plans to use the IPO proceeds to invest in the clinical development of drugs it has previously backed. These drugs include ar-ketamine (used for treatment-resistant depression) and ibogaine (used for treating opioid addiction). The biotech business will also use a part of the IPO capital to back new drugs and invest in their development.


Biotech startup ATAI Life Sciences, backed by investor Peter Thiel, filed an S-1 to the SEC as it looks to raise about $100 million in its upcoming IPO.

About the Author

Headshot of Mariliana Fotopoulou

Mariliana has an MSC in Consumer Analytics and Business Strategy. She has a special interest in fast-moving industries and Big Data.

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