Peter Thiel-backed ATAI is preparing to go to Nasdaq, as interest in psychedelics reaches fever pitch
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The team behind ATAI Life Sciences has ratcheted up momentum over the last few months, and now they’re looking to capitalize with an IPO.
Backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, ATAI filed its SEC paperwork late Tuesday and outlined its plans to take its portfolio of experimental psychedelic medicines to Nasdaq. They’ve listed a $100 million raise for now, though that figure has commonly proved to be a mere placeholder during the biotech boom and the company could end up raising much more.
Take, for example, another biotech that just went public last week in Recursion. The AI drug developers also penciled in $100 million but ended up raising $436 million once their IPO closed, good for the second-biggest IPO raise of 2021 behind only Sana.
The industry will have to wait and see just how much ATAI ends up raising, but they’ll certainly add to the hefty total among biotech so far this year. In 2021, there have now been 46 biotechs to either file or price their IPOs notching a combined $5.46 billion tally across the debuts, per an Endpoints News tally.
If ATAI’s previous two fundraises are any indication, their final IPO total could be significant. Last November, ATAI raised $125 million in a Series C that was co-led by Thiel’s firm, scoring the company a $1 billion post-money valuation. Then in March, ATAI “doubled down” on their strategy, as CEO Florian Brand told Endpoints at the time, scoring a $157 million Series D.
That marked a four-month span in which the company saw nearly $300 million of capital flow into its coffers, bookending the addition of Recognify Life Sciences and its schizophrenia programs into the ATAI family of companies.
ATAI’s business model for developing therapeutics covering a range of mental health disorders involves bringing portfolio companies under one umbrella, something that Brand told Endpoints last month had been driving the heavy interest with the consecutive nine-figure raises. Brand recently brought in the 14th such portfolio firm a few weeks ago with Psyber, which looks to improve mental health disorders and induce behavioral changes through “brain computer interface” technology.
With the funds from the IPO, ATAI has identified programs from six of its companies that will be the primary focus. The S-1 lists the companies as Perception, Recognify, DemeRx, GABA, Neuronasal and Viridia, with ATAI looking to launch either Phase I or Phase II studies for their drug candidates.
The disorders involved include treatment resistant depression, schizophrenia, opioid use disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and mild traumatic brain injury.
Psychedelics are seeing a comeback and investors have flocked toward the field, as evidenced by ATAI’s previous raises and the $146.6 million IPO last September for Compass Pathways. The prominent investor firm RA Capital Management, which participates in a plethora of biotech crossover rounds, also recently led a $125 million Series B for GH Research, an Irish company looking at repurposing the drug known as “toad venom” for therapeutic purposes.
Social: Peter Thiel, AP Images