March 3, 2021

Thiel-backed psychedelic startup Atai raises another $157m

Atai's a competitive player in the global race to commercialise psychedelics

Freya Pratty

2 min read

Psychedelic therapy. Credit: Compass Pathways

Berlin-headquartered biotech firm Atai Life Sciences, which specialises in psychedelic treatments for mental health disorders, has raised $157m amid the global race to commercialise psychedelics. 

The company’s Series D raise follows a $125m funding round in November last year and comes as it’s rumoured to be preparing an IPO. The valuation on Wednesday was not disclosed, but Bloomberg reported that it was $2bn.

Atai is pursuing a range of treatments for mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress, using drugs such as DMT, arketamine and psilocybin — the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms. 


“We continue on our mission challenging the current way mental health conditions are treated,” said Florian Brand, CEO and cofounder of Atai. “We have become better equipped than ever to accelerate the development of more efficacious treatments.”

The company’s a large player in the global psychedelics world — a market that’s expanded significantly in the past 12 months, and one where European companies have come to be clear leaders. 

Atai runs a decentralised drug development strategy: it owns 10 companies which are each working on a different compound to help treat mental health issues. 

At the end of last year, one of those companies, Compass Pathways, which has patented a synthetic version of psilocybin, listed on the US stock market with a $1.6bn valuation.

Smaller players in the market are also raising money fast — Oxford-based Beckley Psytech recently secured £17m, and its CEO told Sifted last week it’s assessing its options for an IPO too. 

Atai’s investors

The investors in Atai’s $157m Series D include:

  • Thiel Capital 
  • Apeirion Investment Group — the family office of Atai’s founder, Christian Angermayer. Sifted chatted with Angermayer about Atai and his other investments earlier this year. 
  • Woodline Partners LP
  • Fearless Ventures
  • Falcon Edge Capital
  • Pura Vida Pro LLC
  • Catalio Capital Management 
  • Subversive Capital, Michael Auerbach
  • Highline Capital 

Atai’s team

Atai, which currently has 49 employees at its parent company, according to LinkedIn, is planning to go on a big hiring spree with this fresh funding. There are over 20 roles currently advertised across Atai’s three head offices in London, Berlin and New York. 

As well as growing the team, the new funding will go towards developing the company’s drugs candidate pipeline and help continue clinical developments of existing drugs. 

Freya Pratty

Freya Pratty is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers climate tech, writes our weekly Climate Tech newsletter and works on investigations. Follow her on X and LinkedIn