The founder of startup Bonobos hid a bipolar diagnosis for decades. Now he’s on a mission to destigmatize mental health at work – Fortune

How can companies better help support employee mental health?
It’s a question that’s top of mind for Fortune 500 execs and perhaps even more pressing for startup founders where the move fast and break things pace can be both incredibly inspiring—and a fast track to crisis. 
That’s exactly where Andy Dunn, cofounder of men’s clothing startup Bonobos and author of the 2022 memoir Burn Rate: Launching a Startup and Losing My Mind found himself several years back. Actually, the story is so dramatic, let’s pause to set the scene. 
In short, the hyper successful entrepreneur had been hiding a bipolar diagnosis since college. While CEO, a manic episode resulted in him being taken to the Bellevue hospital psych ward and held there for a week as the psychosis gradually lifted. Upon release, he was greeted by a welcoming committee of NYPD officers who informed him he was being arrested for stripping naked in the throes of mania and assaulting his then girlfriend and elderly mother-in-law, an incident he can barely recall. 
It’s hard to square that image with the Dunn who several of us were lucky enough to see the other night at a dinner in downtown Chicago sponsored by Fortune and ServiceNow. Polished, charismatic, funny, and brutally honest, he spoke to an assembled group of CHROs about mental health and the workplace in conversation with my Fortune colleague Matt Heimer—and it was an amazing ride. He traveled back through the onset of his condition in college, through the wild startup years where the manic life of an entrepreneur served as a screen to mask his underlying condition, all the way to the point where he had to inform Walmart—the company that had agreed to buy his startup—that when they performed a background check they would find the felony arrest. 
In recent years, Dunn has partnered with execs such as ServiceNow’s Chief People Officer Jacqui Canney to help destigmatize mental illness. As Dunn wrote in Burn Rate, “The truth, though, is that the stigma is here, and it is profound. Mental illness is one of the final taboos. The business community values stability. When it comes to leading teams, shepherding capital, and governing enterprises, a steady hand is what is sought. So even as we have entered a new era, one where assumptions surrounding race, gender, and power are being interrogated more deeply, issues of mental illness in the workplace go largely unmentioned. For most of my professional life mental illness has felt unspeakable: a fast track to an awkward silence, a closed door, or a lost opportunity. The thing is a lot of us have it. A lot.”
He goes on to say that bipolar is seven times more prevalent in entrepreneurs, which may mean some 20% of entrepreneurs have the condition. While Dunn recognizes that his “exited startup” good fortune allows him to speak more frankly than most, such disclosures are, as he puts it, “contagious.” If a leader admits vulnerability and talks about their own struggles, employees will feel a door has been opened. Though the rest of the dinner table conversation was off-the-record, I can say that the personal stories, ideas sparked, and questions raised (How much should a company cover for ER visits? Which mindfulness shows meaningful benefits?) got everyone strategizing about how they can do more to help employees who are struggling. 
And truly, whether you’re a CHRO, startup founder, or just someone who appreciates a rip-roaring read, if you haven’t read Burn Rate, pick up a copy—I cannot recommend it highly enough. 
See you tomorrow,
Lee Clifford
Joe Abrams curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.
Employment Hero, a Sydney, Australia-based human resources and payroll platform, raised AUD$263 million ($167 million) in Series F funding. TCV led the round and was joined by Insight Partners, AirTree, Seek, and OneVentures
Debut Biotech, a San Diego, Calif.-based developer of bioactive skincare ingredients and products, raised $40 million in Series B funding. L’Oreal led the round and was joined by others.
SynFutures, a Singapore-based crypto derivatives exchange, raised $22 million in Series B funding. Pantera Capital led the round and was joined by HashKey Capital and SIG DT Investments.
Overstory, an Amsterdam, Netherlands-based vegetation management platform for electricity companies, raised $14 million in Series A funding. B Capital led the round and was joined by The Nature Conservancy and others. 
Luzia, a Madrid, Spain-based personal AI chatbot, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Khosla Ventures led the round and was joined by Abstract Ventures, FJ Labs, and others.
Mediatool, a Stockholm, Sweden-based platform for media budget management, raised €7 million ($7.4 million). Fairpoint Capital and eEquity led the round and were joined by others.
Upland, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based platform for purchasing metaverse properties, raised $7 million in a Series A extension from Network Ventures, C3 Venture Capital, Animoca Brands, and angel investors.
Cyviation, a Herzeliya, Israel-based cybersecurity solutions provider for the aviation industry, raised $4 million in new funding from a group of private investors from Stonecourt Capital and Highline Capital, and others.
Airwallex, backed by Hermitage Capital, agreed to acquire MexPago, a Mexico City, Mexico-based payment service provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
JPA Health, backed by Great Point Partners, acquired True North Solutions, a Cambridge, Mass.-based commercial, clinical, and medical consulting firm for pharmaceutical companies. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Opta Group, a portfolio company of Speyside Equity Advisers, acquired NuFlux, a Cortland, Ohio-based provider of engineering materials and products for the steelmaking and foundry industries, and Nupro Corporation, a Lewsiton, N.Y.-based designer of technology for metal work. Financial terms were not disclosed. 
Sequoia Financial Group agreed to acquire M Capital Advisors, a Nashville, Tenn.-based asset management firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
CARGO Therapeutics, a San Mateo, Calif.-based biotechnology company developing cell therapies for cancer, filed to go public. Samsara BioCapital, Red Tree Venture Capital, Perceptive Advisors, Third Rock Ventures, Nextech Invest, and James Henderson Investors back the company.
Invea Therapeutics, a Guilford, Conn.-based biotech company developing inflammatory disease therapeutics, filed to go public. InveniAI backs the company.
Abivax, a Paris, France-based developer of chronic inflammatory disease therapies, raised $236 million in an offering of 20.3 million shares priced at $11.60. The Chernin Group, Truffle Capital, Sofinnova Partners, Invus Public Equities, Deep Track Capital, and Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners back the company.
Acuity Partners, a New York City-based alternative investment firm, hired Christine Winslow as a partner and Pan Li as an associate. Formerly, Winslow was with Grafine Partners and Li was with Bank of China. 
Volition Capital, a Boston, Mass.-based private equity firm, promoted Jim Ferry to partner. Formerly, he was with Fidelity Investments.
Correction, Oct. 23, 2023: The online version of this newsletter has been corrected to reflect that Sequoia Financial Group is not backed by FGA Partners.
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