Investors High on Cannabis Media Start-Ups
From the very beginning there was High Times. I’m talking way back, before the Internet and cable TV, before legalization was even a thought in this NJ teen’s mind, the underground magazine with a cult following made you feel, well, like you were in on an inside joke that your parents would never get. For the first time, you were connected, “at one” with tokers everywhere, who were also in on the joke. And, that centerfold, oh, that centerfold was a bud to behold, always some exotic varietal that we didn’t even know existed in our 70’s suburban dreams.
Fast forward to present day and High Times is still at the forefront of marijuana new reporting, which has become one of the few bright spots in today’s media landscape. Just last week, High Times Media acquired Green Rush Daily, a 3-year-old online news service that draws 9.5 million monthly page views. While High Times amps up its digital presence, Green Rush is betting that the $500,000 cash and $6-million stock offer will translate into a big pay day once High Times goes public later this year. One thing is for sure, the magazine that first gave voice to cannabis culture, High Times’ greenest days are still to come.
Canadian cannabis media company Lift has also filed to go public, although on the Toronto stock exchange. Lift operates Canada’s largest cannabis product-comparison site and hopes to play a bigger role in guiding cannabis purchase decisions as Canada moves to full recreational legalization later this year. Lift will have plenty of company, as many of Canada’s cannabis-related businesses are filing on the TSX Venture Exchange (the Toronto stock market) these days.
Herb is taking another route to the top of the marijuana media heap. The Toronto-based cannabis media company recently announced a $4.1 million round of funding with big name investors, including Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Bullpen Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, Slow Ventures, Buddy Media co-founder Michael Lazerow, angel investor Shiva Rajarama and executives from Shopify. Herb planted its humble seeds as The Stoner’s Cookbook and has since grown to 200 million video views per month and 5.3 million unique viewers. Eventually, Herb wants to be everything cannabis-related, including ordering and delivery. But for now, content is still king for Herb.
This is just the beginning. We’ll see an increase in media acquisitions, venture funding and public offerings within the cannabis media space. With marijuana sales expected to reach $24 billion by 2025, according to New Frontier Data, a cannabis market research and analytics firm, consumers are hungry for cannabis content across multi formats. As consumer appetite for cannabis continues to grow, so too will our interest in consuming cannabis media. So, the next time you watch that “how to make magic butter” video, or read a “Blue Dream” strain review, or an article like this, you’re doing your part to contribute to industry growth. It truly is high times for cannabis content companies for the foreseeable future.