Former Yahoo, Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz Talks Cannabis Space, Caliva Investment: 'It Was Just Obvious'

It was all over the media: NFL superstar Joe Montana and Carol Bartz — former CEO of Autodesk, Inc. ADSK and Yahoo, now owned by Verizon Communications Inc. VZ — were part of a group that invested $75 million into seed-to-sale cannabis company Caliva.

While Montana has been fairly reluctant to comment on cannabis and his investments in the space — although he did talk about cannabis and the NFL last year — Bartz was more than open about these topics, going on the record about her marijuana use on TV, in print media and on online outlets.

Benzinga decided to catch up with this tech industry legend and ask about her recent investment in Caliva.

Getting Into Cannabis

Bartz said she always was “attuned to who was legalizing cannabis and what they were trying to do.”

The former CEO said she hadn't considered using the drug until a “fellow executive” suggested she tried a cannabis cream for her bad knees.

“You know, he’s a 60-year-old tennis player,” Bartz said. “So, I said, ‘tell me about it,’ and I went into my first dispensary to get some Papa & Barkley’s [products] …  and I thought, ‘man this is crazy.’ I mean crazy good, because people were willing to listen to what your ailment was and offer suggestions." 

Bartz started by buying some rub and had soon visited five dispensaries and then tried cannabis tincture. 

"I was absolutely sold."

Bartz said she's convinced about 50 people to try cannabis products like creams and tinctures, explaining that they've helped her cut down from a dozen Advils a day to none. 

The Caliva Experience

After visiting dozens of dispensaries and preaching cannabis’ properties far and wide for quite some time, a friend of Bartz’s husband invited her to check out a Caliva grow facility. 

“I got to see the growing under the lights, the pressing and rolling, the quality of the people and how seriously they took the testing, the science and so forth," she said. "I said, ‘you know what, this is going to blow open once people realize how many aspects of cannabis can help them.'" 

Having seen Caliva’s operations and tested the company’s products, Bartz said she decided she wanted a piece of the action.

“If somebody had just walked up to me and said, ‘would you invest in Caliva?’ I would say 'I don’t think so,'” she said.

“But the fact that I had actually tried products and then sort of took my business head and looked at the quality of the management and looked at the operation: it was just obvious.”

Caliva will allocate most of the $75 million raised to a “war chest” that will be used to expand the company’s portfolio and customer base. This is Carol Bartz’s first cannabis investment. Joe Montana, for his part, invested in cannabis media outlet HERB in 2017, through his investment firm Liquid 2 Ventures, where he serves as a general partner.

Related Links:

States Push To Expand Cannabis Access: Will The Market Follow? 

Aurora Cannabis Revenue More Than Doubles Quarter-Over-Quarter

Photo by Yahoo! Blog via Wikimedia. 


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