It’s becoming increasingly clear that the cannabis industry will soon become a huge market opportunity for startup entrepreneurs who have the brains and the gumption to navigate a still-murky legal and regulatory environment. And what happens when huge market opportunities open up? Well, venture money is sure to follow.
That’s already true in the case of Privateer Holdings, a company that recently closed a $75 million round of funding. To chat about the funding, as well as the rapid changes facing cannabis industry today, we’ll be hosting Privateer CEO Brendan Kennedy and Founders Fund partner Geoff Lewis at Disrupt NY next month.
Privateer is no ordinary weed startup, and CEO Kennedy is no ordinary “ganjapreneur.” The former COO of Silicon Valley Bank’s non-bank affiliate company SVB Analytics, Kennedy comes to the cannabis market with a keen analytical bent but also a desire to bring the industry out of the shadows.
Operating for just the last five years, Privateer already has two profitable business units in Leafly, which bills itself as the world’s largest cannabis information resource, and Tilray, which has quickly become the largest single supplier of medical-grade cannabis in Canada.
In its attempt to go after the U.S. market, Privateer has also announced plans to launch products from a third business unit called Marley Natural, which was formed in partnership with Bob Marley’s family late last year.
But that’s just the start. When we interviewed him about the close of his funding round, Kennedy told TechCrunch that Privateer is looking to launch a whole bunch of brands to capture different segments of the cannabis market.
“Our thesis was that this will be a mainstream consumer product used by mainstream Americans, and they will be looking for mainstream professional brands that don’t insult or offend them,” Kennedy told us. The funding will surely help the company advance its agenda, as it launches Marley Natural and other brands in the U.S. and other pot-friendly geographies.
But before it was able to secure that cash, it first needed to find an investor that was okay with leading by example. No surprise then that Founders Fund stepped up to the plate and led Privateer’s Series B round. That investment was led by Lewis, who is also an investor in Lyft, Hampton Creek and Oyster, among others.
There will be a lot to talk about between them, such as why we need a P&G for Pot, how quickly we should expect the recreational marijuana use to become fully legal, and how quickly we can expect other investors to embrace what looks like a wide open market.
Kennedy and Lewis will join other notable Disrupt NY speakers, including Periscope’s Kayvon Beykpour, Joanne Wilson, and Vine’s Jason Mante.
Our sponsors help make Disrupt happen. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.