Episode 53: uBiome the Poo-Poo Startup That Could... Poo

Tuesday, June 7th 2022 | 00:51:13

We are doing a whole episode on poop. Yes, you read that right, poop, and the startup built on it: uBiome. In this episode, we talk about how Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte scammed people with the promise of improving their health. The startup got to a point where it was worth $600 million dollars. Oh sh*t!  But how did they manage to do it? Where did they get the money? How far can a pair of fraudsters go? Tune in and find out how data and citizen science can take a nasty turn if they fall into the wrong hands. 


(03:16) - Our favorite topic, the grand democratizer… fraudulent capitalism: The power of data and citizen science.

(05:04) - That’s right fellas, there’s a map for sewer system in NYC - Leif Percifield and the “Don’t Flush Me” project.

(07:56) - Information: the currency for today’s economy and all about the startup that was built on shit (literally).

(9:51) - How uBiome started off as a very well and civilized citizen science project in 2013 and funded their pilot project through Indie Gogo (the best and most honest crowdfunding platform…) 

(23:59) - Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte a pair of geniuses that know how to raise the money.

(34:33) - “We’ve got this new microbiome that we can test for! Wanna get a retest?” - The various ways Jessica and Zachary cooked their numbers and kept the money coming in.

(41:22) - A startup full of shit! The great unraveling of uBiome: from insurers flagging it to the vanishing of its founders. 


Leif Percifield on Twitter

Leif Percifield on LinkedIn

Jessica Richman’s Ted Talk - Could a citizen scientist win a Nobel Prize?

episode image
Show Contributors
  • Seena Ghaznavi
  • Justin Williams