CEO of Privateer Holdings: ‘Cannabis in the United States is Bigger than Corn’

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain / Evan-Amos

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain / Evan-Amos

On Dec. 4, 2015, Bloomberg’s Britton Staniar and Peter Robison interviewed Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm focused on the legal cannabis industry, in Seattle to discuss Privateer’s investments in cannabis-related businesses.

Brendan Kennedy, Michael Blue and Christian Groh founded Privateer Holdings in 2010. Kennedy told Bloomberg, “We put together Privateer Holdings because we saw this huge opportunity to build a private equity firm in this industry that was making investments in medical cannabis companies.”

On Jan. 8, 2015, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund invested in Privateer, and to date Privateer has raised $82 million in funding to support its collection of cannabis assets, including Tilray, a licensed cannabis producer based in British Columbia; Leafly, an online resource that connects cannabis consumers to their perfect strain; and Marley Natural, the Bob Marley-inspired global cannabis brand that was announced last year on NBC’s Today Show by Privateer Holdings and Bob Marley’s family.

According to Kennedy, “Annual revenues are $35-$40 billion, right. Cannabis in the United States is bigger than corn—think about that, bigger than corn.”

Kennedy addressed the inherent risk of investing in cannabis, but explained that he trusts his decision to go all in.

“Some people have told us that this project, this company, is either career suicide or it’s the smartest decision we’ve ever made in our lives. We won’t know, we won’t know for three to five years, but we fully believe in it, our families fully believe in it, our friends fully believe in it, and they believe that this is the biggest opportunity that we’re ever going to see.”

With its confidence in cannabis, Privateer continues to ride legalization’s wave of promise, and on Dec. 8, Privateer was shortlisted in the 2016 PRWeek US Awards’ Investor/Financial Communications Campaign of the Year for its campaign on securing $75 million in its Series B Round as the first institutional investor in legal cannabis.

Caroline Cahill is the Managing Editor of MJINews. She earned her BA in Communications from College of Charleston and her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has previously worked in higher education, development and radio. You can follow her on Twitter @CtheresaC.

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