In October 2018, microbiome testing startup uBiome was riding pretty high. Less than a month before, the company had announced a shift to more therapeutic products, raised $83 million in a venture capital round, and added a former Novartis CEO to its board.
Fast forward a year later: the company’s co-founders have resigned, it faces law enforcement scrutiny over its billing practices, it’s currently in bankruptcy proceedings, and it filed a motion Tuesday to move from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would mean liquidating its assets and shutting down.
A lot can happen in 12 months.
The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2012, and its first product was an at-home kit where people could provide fecal samples and send them in for genomics testing. The company then purported to provide a report about its customer’s microbiome—the bacteria present in the intestines that can have a big impact on people’s health.
The company then began offering a test for irritable bowel syndrome and a test for vaginal health. These tests required a doctor’s order. The company’s practices involving doctors who ordered those tests are reportedly under scrutiny by law enforcement, and its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing included notes about millions of dollars owed to insurance companies as refunds. In July, the company’s cofounders and co-CEOs, Jessica Richman and Zac Apte, resigned from the company.
During the company’s Chapter 11 filing, the company had indicated that it would be looking into a sale. However, according to the motion it filed in court today, the company wasn’t able to secure lending that would enable it to continue operations. As a consequence, it has requested the court allow it to cease operations and liquidate its assets in order to pay off its creditors.
The bankruptcy court still needs to approve the motion. If it is accepted and the company moves to Chapter 7, the liquidation of uBiome’s assets will happen under the supervision of a court-appointed trustee.