Kyle Robertson is out as CEO of digital mental health company Cerebral, the company said Wednesday.
His departure, which he reportedly contests, comes weeks after mounting criticism of the startup's prescribing practices, including three lawsuits by former employees and a federal investigation.
Cerebral president and chief medical officer David Mou will take over as the CEO. Mou joined the company in February 2021 after completing postdoctoral research on the use of smartphone and wearables data to predict suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Mou in a statement praised Robertson for his vision and leadership during the pandemic. Robertson co-founded the company in 2019 and helped it grow to an estimated valuation of $5 billion within two years.
"As Cerebral enters its next phase of growth, we look forward to expanding our services, guided as always by evidence-based clinical protocols, to help those who struggle with mental health concerns in silence," Mou said.
Efforts to reach for Robertson and members of the board were unsuccessful.
Robertson is not going down without a fight. According to Bloomberg News, the ousted CEO read a statement at a Wednesday board meeting that said any efforts to push him out were illegal and he would "pursue all avenues, legal or otherwise" to defend himself.
Robertson called the actions of the board of directors nefarious in his statement and suggested the board was forcing the company to continue prescribing controlled substances.
"This would make sense given that the board has repeatedly stated to me that we are underperforming our business goals and pressured me to find ways to increase revenues," Robertson said in the statement, the copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg.
Investors have internally been pushing for a leadership change, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Cerebral recently suspended prescribing Adderall and Ritalin to new patients as the DOJ investigated possible Controlled Substances Act violations.
The company is also battling off three former employees in court, including former vice president of product and engineering Matt Truebe, who alleged the company sought to boost customer retention rates with ADHD medication prescriptions.
In an interview with Digital Health Business & Technology, Mou said the scrutiny shouldn't take away from its work to make mental health treatment more accessible.
"There are a lot of things we get really right, there are some things we are working on and we're going to get it right, and we're open to feedback, we want to get better at it," he said last week.