German investor Christian Angermayer—a 42-year-old billionaire who bears a not-negligible resemblance to Jared Leto in Blade Runner 2049—has made a fortune betting on a host of sci-fi-sounding finance fads. Among them: space travel, crypto, psychedelics, movies, weed, SPACs, and “life extension.”
Those ventures have done pretty well for him. In the past year alone, seven companies Angermayer’s family office funded went public, raising a combined $1 billion; another 10 companies are slated to issue IPOs this year, according to Bloomberg Wealth. But in a recent profile, Angermayer cited a single experience as having paved the way for his billions: doing hallucinogenic mushrooms.
When the investor Zoomed with Bloomberg last month, he called in from his home in London, where he’d hung an “ancient statue of Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft, in the background.” From there, Angermayer detailed his conversion from life-long straight-edge to something out of a Phish festival, after a revelatory chat with a neuroscientist eight years prior.
Angermayer said the doctor confirmed his instinct to avoid hard drugs, but suggested psilocybin mushrooms were less dangerous than other vices, like alcohol. British researcher David Nutt, for example, published a chart of drugs ranked by harmfulness, which lists alcohol at the top and shrooms dead last.
When Angermayer went on a trip to the Caribbean with some close friends in 2015, he gave shrooms a try. The experience, the billionaire said, “was the single most meaningful thing I’ve done in my whole life.”
In the ego death of his hallucinations, Angermayer “finally understood Bitcoin.”
The Bloomberg piece describes Angermayer as “a German version of Chamath Palihapitiya, the serial SPAC-dealmaker who views himself as the Warren Buffett of the Reddit era.” And like Palihapitiya, the billionaire has been bullish on SPACs or “special purpose acquisition companies”—the blank-check companies that soared in popularity early this year, drawing warnings from the SEC and financial advisers. One of Angermayer’s is looking to raise some $200 million.
He has also gotten involved in some murky corporate deals. Last summer, Angermayer collected multimillion-dollar fees for brokering a Softbank deal with the German financial company Wirecard, not long after the latter collapsed and was accused of widespread fraud. A friend whom Angermayer had helped get a board position at Deutsche Bank AG was later served with a criminal complaint for charges related to the Wirecard scandal.
On Tuesday, one of Angermayer’s investments filed for an IPO. It was a company called Atai Life Sciences–a biotech company backed by Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel, the guy who paid for Hulk Hogan to sue Gawker into non-existence. The firm, valued at $2 billion, focuses on psychedelics.