Kraig Fox (left), to Become President and CEO and Adam Levin (right), to become Executive Chairman
The parent of leading cannabis publication High Times magazine has appointed media industry veteran Kraig Fox as President and Chief Executive Officer as it closes in on the last several weeks of its IPO, which is open to all investors.
Mr. Fox will replace current Chairman and CEO Adam Levin, who will remain at High Times as Executive Chairman. Mr. Fox has experience in the media and entertainment industries both as an operator and a financial investor, which should help the company as it pursues both organic growth and possible acquisitions.
“Kraig’s operating and finance experience with public companies in the live entertainment, music and branding sectors makes him the ideal executive to take the High Times brand, our growing portfolio of assets and our business operations to the next level,” Mr. Levin said. “As our operations expand globally, Kraig will provide both the personnel leadership and operational strategy to bring positive returns to those financially invested in the High Times brand. I couldn’t be more excited to have Kraig join us.”
Mr. Fox’s resume includes roles in senior management at Live Nation, Core Media (owner of American Idol), along with a position as Senior Managing Director at Guggenheim Partners, where he led the acquisition of Dick Clark Productions.
“I believe that High Times is the most valuable and recognizable global brand in the cannabis sector and I am thrilled to be leading this rapidly expanding organization,” Mr. Fox said. “As the leading ‘non-plant’ touching business in the industry, High Times is providing investors with an amazing opportunity to participate in the macro growth of cannabis.”
Hightimes Holding, which also owns the Cannabis Cup along with several other publications and events, is raising up to $50 million in a Regulation A offering that is open until June 30. The company said Wednesday it has generated more-than 20,000 investors but hasn’t updated its total amount raised since December, when it said it raised $13.2 million. IPO Edge published a financial analysis of the deal, explaining how the company is distinguished from cannabis production companies, available here.
In addition to cash from the sale of shares, High Times recently converted $28.6 million of debt to equity. That transaction dramatically reduced the company’s leverage and gave it scope to acquire some complimentary businesses.
For instance, High Times bought Spain’s Spannabis conference in January for $7 million. In March, Spannabis hosted its 16th annual industry conference in Barcelona.
High Times’s conference and event portfolio includes the Cannabis Cup, Reggae On The River and the High Times Business Expo. The company also recently acquired DOPE Media for $11.2 million. DOPE has regional publications along with Dope Cup events that complement Cannabis Cup events. In December, Hightimes bought Buyers Industry Guide, owner of the BIG Show industry conferences. The B2B tradeshows gather twice annually in Miami and Los Angeles with over 10,000 industry guests annually.
A conference rollup strategy is smart for High Times on multiple counts. First, can use its existing sales infrastructure across events, reducing costs. The High Times brand is also stronger than any other in the industry, so more attendees may take interest in the events with the new affiliation.
High Times has several other growth engines beyond conferences. For instance, until current management took over, the company had neglected to pursue a serious digital strategy. The company’s plans include the recent launch of an over-the-top streaming service that’s akin to a Netflix of cannabis, reflecting a fresh push to monetize the High Times brand – the strongest in the marijuana industry.
The cannabis industry has drawn attention from investors and blue-chip companies in recent months as legalization in more U.S. states creates growth opportunities. In December, Big Tobacco leader Altria recently announced a $1.8 billion investment in Cronos Group. Also, beer company Constellation Brands recently increased its stake in Canopy Growth with a $3.8 billion investment in the Canadian cannabis grower, a deal that surprised investors.
Once public, High Times will join other listed, growth-stage companies focused on the burgeoning cannabis industry. Those include MassRoots, which operates a mobile app for marijuana consumers to share and compare reviews. Another is KushCo Holdings, which offers products to marijuana dispensaries and growers. Most recently, Level Brands acquired CBD manufacturer cbdMD as the Farm Bill removed hemp from DEA oversight, clearing a path for broader CBD sales.
High Times also appointed Jon Cappetta as Vice President of Content, a role focused on optimization of content across the company’s publications and event properties. He previously worked as a marketing and digital strategy consultant to various media and technology companies.
John Jannarone, Editor-in-Chief