When Alfred T. Giuliano, a Voorhees bankruptcy trustee, held an auction in December for the assets of uBiome Inc., nobody wanted the San Francisco company’s 40,000 test kits used to evaluate “gut” health.
Fast forward three months and Giuliano’s son, who also works at that accounting and consulting firm, Giuliano, Miller & Co. LLC, realized that those uBiome kits used to collect stool samples contained what has become a valuable asset: swabs that could be used instead for COVID-19 testing.
The kits cost uBiome $32,000, and under normal circumstances, it would not be worth the trouble to make another attempt to sell them. But that has probably changed. “In this market, and the fact that they are in short supply, they probably would go for a lot more money,” Giuliano said.
However, instead of trying again to raise money for creditors by selling the kits, Alfred Giuliano wanted to donate them. He sent a sample to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and got confirmation that they could be used for COVID-19 testing.
Giuliano got creditors’ blessing to donate them and secured the approval of a bankruptcy judge in Wilmington, clearing the way for the swabs to arrive at CHOP on Monday, Giuliano and his lawyer, Bradford J. Sandler, said.
CHOP declined to comment.
“Normally, bankruptcy professionals try to save jobs, they try to maximize value to pay back creditors, and here instead of focusing on those primary goals, the focus was on what type of social good can be done and how can we help the health-care crisis," said Sandler, of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP, which has an office in Wilmington.
UBiome claimed to analyze the consumer’s gut biome -- aka gut bacteria -- and make recommendations on diet, weight control, gut inflammation, sleep disorders, and non-dietary supplements. It raised more than $80 million from venture capital firms and peaked at more than 300 employees in 2018.
But it collapsed after an FBI raid about a year ago. A bankruptcy document described activities of “questionable legality,” including improper billing to insurance and “potentially misleading marketing tactics.”
It filed for bankruptcy in September.