Meet Brendan Kennedy, ceo of the private equity firm Privateer Holdings. He arrives at our meeting carrying a bowl of nuts. He’s been up with his nine-month-old daughter since dawn. He is, like seemingly everyone else at Privateer, an exercise enthusiast. He has completed six Ironman competitions and generally comes across as someone who isn’t frivolous about what he puts into his body. Pot? “It’s not a part of my life,” he says in his soft, deliberate manner. “I’m more of a have-a-beer-on-a-Friday-night guy than a cannabis guy.”
But more than anything, Kennedy is a big-money guy. This spring, he closed a $75 million round of funding to continue building his massive, game-changing marijuana company—including the first-ever backing raised from institutional investors, a very big deal in what wonks call an “emerging market.” He is turning pot into a legit investment, because he sees a fortune to be made when control of a $40 billion industry moves from those who are passionate about smoking pot to those who are passionate about making money. And to accomplish this, he intends to do away with pot as you know it. No more cliché names. No more Baggies. No 4/20 jokes. He envisions beautiful packaging and branding and logos. He wants to build the Budweiser of bud, the Wheaties of weed, the McDonald’s of Mary Jane—products that are “the big, bright, shiny brands that people can point to and say, ‘That’s what the end of prohibition looks like,’ ” he says.
Read “Inside the Corporate Takeover of America’s Marijuana Industry” by Chris Kornelis: http://www.maxim.com/maxim-man/article/big-pot-corporate-marijuana-2015-8
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