Virtual Therapeutics Levels Up in Digital Mental Health With $276M Akili Deal

0 min read

One of the pioneering players in applying video game technology to treating mental health conditions is going all-in on its digital therapeutic ambitions. Virtual Therapeutics announced Monday it has struck a deal to acquire Akili, Inc. in an all-cash transaction valuing the digital therapeutics firm at $276 million.

The acquisition marks a bold consolidation move as Virtual Therapeutics aims to establish itself as a diversified leader in the rapidly evolving digital health landscape. Akili shareholders will receive $0.4340 per share under the terms of the agreement, representing an 85% premium to the stock’s closing price in late April before a strategic review was announced.

Virtual Therapeutics has built a portfolio of virtual reality and immersive game experiences explicitly designed to provide mental health and cognitive fitness solutions. By adding Akili’s clinically-validated mobile software products to its platform, the combined company can offer a multi-modal suite of digital therapeutic offerings across multiple therapeutic areas.

For Akili investors, the all-cash bid comes as a welcome event after a turbulent stretch for the newly-public company. Shares had plunged over 80% from their 2022 IPO price amid slower-than-expected uptake for its flagship ADHD treatment. The $276 million deal price provides Akili shareholders with a rare exit opportunity in the cash-burning digital health space.

Founded in 2011, Boston-based Akili pioneered a new category of medicine it calls “digital therapeutics” – video game-like software programs prescribed by doctors that are clinically validated to treat medical conditions directly through cognitive engagement and video inputs. Its lead product, EndeavorRx, was cleared by the FDA in 2020 as a treatment for children with ADHD.

Take a moment to discover more emerging growth biotechnology companies by taking a look at Noble Capital Markets’ Research Analyst Robert LeBoyer’s coverage list.

Virtual Therapeutics has been taking a different tack, creating visually-rich, immersive game worlds as mental health interventions for conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD and cognitive decline. The two approaches could prove complementary, with Akili’s mobile experiences providing one delivery mechanism and Virtual Therapeutics’ VR worlds offering an alternative modality.

Combining platforms may allow the merged company to deliver a truly multi-channel digital therapeutic offering spanning mobile, console and virtual reality environments. Cost synergies from eliminating redundancies in technology, R&D and sales infrastructure could also drive improved profitability over time.

For Virtual Therapeutics CEO and co-founder Dan Elenbaas, the Akili merger represents a major milestone in his mission to “bring behavioral health services to as many patients as possible” through engaging, accessible digital experiences. With clinical validation and regulatory clearance already in hand for Akili’s products, the road to scaling distribution and driving adoption may become clearer.

Weighing the deal’s benefits, BTIG analyst Mark Westbrook called the transaction “highly complementary” and stated it positions Virtual Therapeutics as a “clear leader” in delivering validated digital mental health solutions through novel experiential mediums like gaming.

While the digital therapeutics space is still in its infancy, the Virtual Therapeutics-Akili merger creates a formidable platform anchored by real-world clinical data and evidence. Akili gets taken private at a meaningful premium, while Virtual Therapeutics absorbs validated products to accelerate growth in its core mission of delivering modern, scalable solutions to the mental health crisis.

For healthcare investors seeking new frontiers, the combined digital mental health company resulting from this deal could be an enticing way to capitalize on gaming technology being repurposed for medical applications. Virtual reality video games may be just what the doctor ordered.


Inbox Intel from Channelchek.

Informed investors make more money. And it’s all about timing. Get it when it happens.

By clicking submit you are agreeing to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy