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Startup Company Iterable Fires CEO for Using LSD Before Meeting

Justin Zhu claimed that he experimented with the drug to improve his focus.

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Iterable Inc., a marketing startup, has fired its CEO Justin Zhu for microdosing on LSD before he attended a meeting held in 2019.

Zhu had taken a certain amount of the drug as an experiment to help him focus better, he told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Launched in 2013, Iterable is a company that connects consumers with brands such as DoorDash and Zillow. It provides services that help marketers build relationships with customers, according to its website.

Related: A Crash Course on Opportunities in Psychedelic Medicine

In a letter to employees, the company didn’t specify the reasons for Zhu’s dismissal and only mentioned that he had violated Iterable’s employee handbook, policies and values. In the note (which was obtained by Bloomberg), Iterable co-founder Andrew Boni, who replaced Zhu as the company’s CEO, said that Zhu’s behavior “undermined the board’s confidence in Justin’s ability to lead the company going forward.”

Still, Boni expressed his appreciation for Zhu, saying that the latter was a “world-class innovator and creative thinker” and that his “vision, creativity and passion will remain a core part of our culture.”

Psychedelic drugs have long been controversial, even though some have argued that they improve mental health. Several leaders in Silicon Valley companies have admitted to taking them, according to Bloomberg.

The late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, for instance, previously told his biographer that “taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life.”

At least one psychedelic drug, MDMA, is currently in its third phase of testing by the FDA for PTSD treatment.

Iterable is currently valued at around $2 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing data from research firm PitchBook. The startup didn’t immediately respond to’s request for comment on Zhu's termination.

Fatma Khaled

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Fatma Khaled covers different news beats ranging from tech, finance, retail and international business to human interest and social justice stories. She previously reported for Business Insider, TheStreet and New York Daily News.