High Times CEO Adam Levin Talks BIG Acquisition, Wider M&A Strategy: 'I Have A Brand That Everybody Knows'

High Times has built up its property portfolio over the last couple of years, accumulating a number of brands under its leafy umbrella.

“[We are on a] mission to create brand-safe inventory for brands of all sizes," High Times CEO Adam Levin told Benzinga back in September.

Now, what's arguably the best-known weed brand in the world is at it again, this time with the acquisition of a new asset: Buyers Industry Guide (BIG).

BIG runs a publication and targeted buying guide for the U.S. cannabis and smoke industry. In addition, the company is responsible for a number of major events, such as “the BIG Show," a B2B event servicing the ancillary cannabis community.

While the value of the transaction was not disclosed, Benzinga did get the chance to chat with Levin again and ask both about the BIG acquisition and High Times’ wider M&A strategy.

Picking Up Teams

This is High Times’ fourth acquisition in 2018. In April, the company acquired Green Rush Daily for around $7 million in cash and stock. In June, it bought CULTURE magazine from Southland Publishing. And in September, High Times paid $11.2 million for Dope Magazine.

Related Link: High Times Buys DOPE Magazine For $11M: Here's Why And What It Means For The Cannabis Industry

 “With our acquisition of the different media brands, such as Dope, Culture and Green Rush Daily, we were able to pick up different assets. Whether it’s sales teams, writers, different forms of distribution,” Levin said. “Today we have around 9 million unique [readers] and we cover more than 80 percent of the cannabis consumers in the market today." 

The acquisitions help High Times expand its presence in the states where cannabis is legal to some degree.

“We now have a sales team of 30-plus people and some presence in every state where there is some form of cannabis. As our company continues to grow, the synergies are obvious. When we add ‘the Big Show’ we are just adding another media product that we will be able to sell through our entire sales force," Levin said. 

More Opportunities For Advertisers

High Times’ sales force is turning into a “distribution machine,” Levin said. 

Acquiring more publishing brands means that High Times can provide more venues for advertisers, he said. Even though all the publications the company has acquired so far are cannabis-focused, the audience crossover is smaller than expected, he said. 

“Each brand has its own specific demographic. With Dope, we only had an audience crossover of almost less than 50 percent," the CEO said. “50 percent of Dope’s advertisers have not advertised in High Times. And now we are going to find different services ... that we can offer as trusted partners to these businesses.”

Levin said he expects High Times to start offering new services for cannabis companies in the near future.

Why The Acquisition Of ‘The Big Show’?

Aside from publications, High Time has a large event production business that produces festivals such as the Cannabis Cup and Reggae On The River, as well as business events such as the High Times Business Expo.

Related Link: How One Entrepreneur Built A Cannabis Business And Sold It For $7M In Less Than 2 Years

The acquisition of BIG will help High Times grow its presence in the event business.

High Times positions itself as much more than a cannabis event company.

“I have a brand that everyone knows,” Levin added. “When you are looking at 50 percent of the growth in this industry and where it’s coming from, it’s from people who know High Times.”

The acquisition of BIG is subject to certain conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Disclosure: The author is a High Times contributor.  

Posted In: Adam LevinBuyers Industry GuideCulture MagazineDope MagazineGreen Rush DailyHigh TimesThe BIG EventCannabisNewsManagementM&AMarketsInterview

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