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79. "startup uBiome just filed for bankruptcy"
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...well this sounds familiar...

Poop-testing startup uBiome was once valued at $600 million by Silicon Valley’s top VCs. It just filed for bankruptcy.
Erin Brodwin and Emma Court 22h
uBiome Toilet Paper 1
Microbiome testing company uBiome came under scrutiny after an FBI raid. Hollis Johnson / Business Insider
uBiome filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, after months of challenges and setbacks for the poop-testing startup.
Founded in 2012, uBiome raised $105 million from investors like 8VC and Andreessen Horowitz to explore the microbiome, a "forgotten organ."
8VC now owns about 20% of the company while Andreessen Horowitz owns 11%, according to the bankruptcy filing.
The FBI raided uBiome's headquarters in April, reportedly related to the company's billing practices. Then, the company's top executives departed.
uBiome built a big set of data based on the human microbiome, but the data was flawed in ways that risked making uBiome's tests unreliable, Business Insider previously reported.
Click here for more BI Prime stories.
Silicon Valley gut-health startup uBiome has filed for bankruptcy protection, capping months of challenges and setbacks for the once-buzzy startup.

uBiome filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in US Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.

Court documents said the company may owe millions of dollars to health insurance companies, and could also face criminal and civil penalties from ongoing investigations.

The poop-testing firm, which counts 8VC and Andreessen Horowitz as its biggest investors, said it hopes to entice an investor to purchase it for its scientific knowledge of the microbiome, even as it grapples with the investigations.

"uBiome's business will be better positioned for success under new ownership," acting CEO Curtis Solsvig said in a statement.

"This step builds on the decisive actions the Board and new management team have recently taken to stabilize the Company and leverage the substantive value of our advanced microbiome testing and analysis assets," he added.

The company has been in hot water for some time: uBiome is currently under federal investigation related to its billing practices and laid off half its staff earlier this summer. In addition, insiders told Business Insider that key science was flawed from the start, prompting the company to start an internal investigation. A top science journal where uBiome published its basic research is also investigating.


inRead invented by Teads
The Wall Street Journal first reported on uBiome's bankruptcy filing earlier on Wednesday.

Read more: uBiome convinced Silicon Valley that testing poop was worth $600 million. Then the FBI came knocking. Here's the inside story.

"We have taken significant action to put the company on stronger footing and believe in the strength and potential of uBiome's scientific achievements and IP," Kimmy Scotti, 8VC partner and a uBiome board member, said in an emailed statement to Business Insider.

uBiome convinced Silicon Valley that testing poop was worth $600 million
Over its seven-year history, uBiome raised $105 million from high-profile investors including Andreessen Horowitz, 8VC, and OS Fund. At one time, it was valued at $600 million. 8VC now owns about 20% of the company while Andreessen Horowitz owns 11%, according to the bankruptcy filing. OS Fund isn't mentioned in the filing.

But uBiome's value had long been precarious, according to insiders.

As uBiome advanced from citizen science project to clinical-testing company, it overstated the medical value of its tests and prioritized growth over patient care, insiders previously told Business Insider.

The bankruptcy filing confirms that these practices helped lead to the company's problems, and it places the blame on uBiome cofounders Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte.

On the heels of the FBI raid, uBiome's board of directors created a special committee to investigate. Shortly after, the committee placed Apte and Richman on leave. Both cofounders continued to be paid until they were removed from the company in July, according to the filing.

"The Founders implemented certain business strategies with respect to the SmartX products that were highly problematic, contained significant operational (but not scientific) flaws and, in some instances, were of questionable legality," the filing reads.

A representative from Andreessen Horowitz declined to comment on this story.

According to the filing, "issues included improper insurance provider billing practices, improper use of a telemedicine physician network (known as the External Clinical Care Network), overly aggressive and potentially misleading marketing tactics, manipulation of customer upgrade testing, and improper use of customer inducements."

The document notes that "inadvertent billings to Tricare, Medicare, and Medicaid" totaled roughly $4 million. In addition, uBiome must also address "over $10 million" worth of refund requests from other insurance companies related to its clinical tests.

ubiome 3
A uBiome Explorer test kit. Erin Brodwin
Throughout the bankruptcy filing, uBiome says that the company's value is linked to the scientific knowledge and intellectual properties that it's developed.

But some insiders previously told Business Insider that uBiome's basic science was flawed as well.

Read more: uBiome insiders say key science at the buzzy startup was flawed from the start. Now, the company and a top science journal are investigating.

A plan to sell uBiome kits at CVS and 'save 100 jobs'
In the bankruptcy filing, uBiome's current leadership says it believes parts of the company can be preserved, albeit with some big changes.

"Simply put, uBiome needs a clean slate and a fresh start to save the business and 100 jobs," the document reads.

Part of that fresh start involves a plan for uBiome to start selling its sole remaining test — the Explorer— at CVS Pharmacy following a purchase order agreement. The deal would involve an "upgraded version" of Explorer, according to the filing.

uBiome also said in the filing that it has contacted 180 potential buyers, of whom 13 had shown initial interest. None has moved forward with a deal.


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Anyone see this Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes HBO documentary? [View all] , Marauder21, Wed Mar-20-19 09:05 AM
Subject Author Message Date ID
never underestimate the ability of people to run a scam.
Mar 20th 2019
Yeah, I was lowkey rooting for her when they talked to
Mar 20th 2019
I’ve been waiting for this to drop
Mar 20th 2019
RE: Anyone see this Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes HBO documentary?
Mar 20th 2019
But again, the stakes with Fyre and Theranos are hugely different
Mar 20th 2019
Right? This is some truly evil shit
Mar 20th 2019
RE: But again, the stakes with Fyre and Theranos are hugely different
Mar 20th 2019
Correct. It's disingenuous at best to compare the two.
Mar 20th 2019
Fyre Fest is not the same thing.
Mar 20th 2019
I read the book by the WSJ writer last summer.
Mar 20th 2019
The whole Steve Jobs clothing made me despise her
Mar 20th 2019
RE: The whole Steve Jobs clothing made me despise her
Mar 20th 2019
The voice has to be an affectation
Mar 20th 2019
      It is.
Mar 20th 2019
           These types always lying... so she has a fake accent too?
Mar 20th 2019
                No accent that I know of. Just deepened her voice like a psycho.
Mar 20th 2019
                     Why she sitting like a dude on the subway on the Fortune panel
Mar 20th 2019
                          Hahaha it's wild right
Mar 20th 2019
                               She had no chill once she was found out
Mar 20th 2019
she is white-manning her way thru life
Mar 20th 2019
Quite literally. Fuck was up with her voice ?! What a weirdo.
Mar 20th 2019
Nah.. just being white.
Mar 20th 2019
Mar 20th 2019
           Black shirt and a deep voice tricked them all
Mar 20th 2019
I heard "The Dropout" podcast about it. Will watch HBO doc for sure.
Mar 20th 2019
Did she stash any money? Did she really go from 4.5 Bill to zero?
Mar 20th 2019
I'm not certain if she ever had that much to beign with
Mar 20th 2019
Any of her stashed money is going to the government
Mar 20th 2019
      Listen to the podcast. It dives into the trial(s) a little bit.
Mar 20th 2019
      No way she didn't grab cash for herself, her Pop was an Enron VP.
Mar 20th 2019
Don't make the mistake of thinking this is an isolated incident
Mar 20th 2019
That's interesting.
Mar 20th 2019
A direct competitor of my current company
Mar 20th 2019
      Damn. That's terrifying.
Mar 20th 2019
           Drug companies do that shit all the time
Mar 20th 2019
                They did that shit on House of Lies, lol
Mar 20th 2019
I have to imagine it's common across industries
Mar 20th 2019
RE: I have to imagine it's common across industries
Mar 20th 2019
more about that site visit please...sounds like a GREAT read...
Mar 20th 2019
      The commercial for the doc jogged my memory...
Mar 20th 2019
She looks like she'd stomp on a kitten and giggle about it
Mar 20th 2019
Where there's drama look for trauma
Mar 20th 2019
Nah... we don’t need to hear about her “harsh” childhood
Mar 20th 2019
Well I'd say want instead of need but we're free to cherry pick
Mar 20th 2019
^ has a crush
Mar 20th 2019
LoL narcissisim and sociopathy/psychopathy are not good looks
Mar 20th 2019
There's always a story
Mar 21st 2019
You don't know why people would want to know if they have a disease?
Mar 20th 2019
I think that having a machine in your home telling you
Mar 20th 2019
      RE: I'd rather be examined WITH the blood test
Mar 20th 2019
      Fair enough, I hadn't really considered that part of it
Mar 20th 2019
      I think the physician made a good point in this doc
Mar 21st 2019
           I think you're underestimating advancements in technology
Mar 28th 2019
      That's your rationale for why *you* wouldn't want it
Mar 20th 2019
what's wild is how much shit isn't in the documentary
Mar 20th 2019
I bet. & it kind of let's her off the hook by vaguely insinuating
Mar 21st 2019
All that money and her hair is ALWAYS FUCKED UP
Mar 21st 2019
looking like she didn't care about her appearance
Mar 21st 2019
I don’t have time to do my hair... I’m married to my company!!!
Mar 21st 2019
Hopefully one day we treat people who brag about
Mar 21st 2019
      INDEED. Although ...
Mar 21st 2019
           eh, it's one of those things where even in the best cases
Mar 22nd 2019
Her hair was more annoying than her gruff ass voice.
Mar 21st 2019
Mar 21st 2019
red flag
Mar 21st 2019
bet that cooch stunk too
Apr 01st 2019
What do you think happened to homeboy with the half beard's face?
Mar 21st 2019
Looked kinda like skin grafts, so maybe a burn?
Mar 21st 2019
Burnt by a flare in his teens, most of his body is scarred
Mar 21st 2019
the thing about dude, is that if he didn't grow out the beard
Mar 22nd 2019
Thing is, I just can't see America sentencing this blonde woman to life
Mar 25th 2019
No way she goes to jail.
Mar 25th 2019
Maybe she'll get some kind of Martha Stewart deal
Mar 28th 2019
This chick would definitely try to Peg you
Mar 28th 2019
trying to put a dudes legs up in the air.
Mar 28th 2019
      I could hear that voice so clearly right now..
Apr 01st 2019
           Been saying that in here.
Apr 01st 2019
Great story, terrible documentary.
Apr 01st 2019
I test poop for a living
Sep 05th 2019
      shit job
Sep 05th 2019
Sentencing today. Faces up to 20 years
Nov 18th 2022
prolly get 3 to 5 years..
Nov 18th 2022
I just really don't see them sending that type of white woman to jail
Nov 18th 2022
Hope she gets it. the timing of her pregnancy is so gross too
Nov 18th 2022
11.25 years
Nov 18th 2022
      More than I expected. Good
Nov 18th 2022
           my coworker made a good point. She wasn’t a rich woman stealing from
Nov 18th 2022

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