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The Rebel's Handbook: All About High Times' New CEO And His Plans To Turn The Company Around

The Rebel's Handbook: All About High Times' New CEO And His Plans To Turn The Company Around
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Over almost half a century, High Times has undergone radical transitions. Conceived as a single-issue lampoon of Playboy in 1974, High Times has since become a globally recognized cannabis brand.

In the last couple of years, however, the brand has seen periods of turbulence following big management changes, corporate restructuring efforts and aggressive M&A activity.

It seems, nonetheless, that the cannabis behemoth is finally coming out of the storm, as the team puts the finishing touches on what they expect will soon be a publicly-traded media and entertainment holdings company. To put it in the words of the company’s VP of Content, Jon Cappetta: “This rebel’s handbook is going to the frikin’ NASDAQ.”

The New Bossman

Nearing the close of its Reg A+, pre-IPO capital raise, High Times Holding Corp. announced media veteran Kraig Fox would take the reigns as CEO and President of High Times, replacing Adam Levin.

Fox previously held executive positions at Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: LYV), Eldridge Industries and Core Media. Benzinga recently sat down with him to talk about his vision, expectations and High Times’ plans, including the anticipated going-public move.

Fox views High Times as “the only globally recognized cannabis brand.” If you’ve traveled the world enough, and talked cannabis with enough people, you will know this is likely true. There are many companies big in the U.S. and Canada, but most people outside of North America have never heard of them.

Owner of a number of brands, such as Dope Magazine, Green Rush Daily, CULTURE and Cannabis Cup Festivals, High Times can take advantage of its name recognition to connect consumers to brands and products, he explains.

“At the end of the day, that’s what High Times does and it does it really well: it uses the power of its brand and the marketing and licensing and all the money we can make from doing that going forward, to connect consumers.”

'The Times They Are a-Changin'

For 45 years, High Times has been focused on media and events. Fox considers the reason why High Times wasn’t used on more products, such as dispensaries, consumption lounges and hardware, is the illegal status of weed. However, things are changing and the cannabis industry around the world is coming out of the shadows.

“High Times has a place in that – people will want brand differentiation like in any other industry and High Times will be a part of that transformation that will offer people the ability to identify with our IP as they grow their businesses,” Fox said.

In the meantime, High Times is focusing on building the root of the brand itself instead of jumping into putting its name on various products. Once cannabis is legalized across the world, the company will be available “for some of the bigger opportunities.”

High Times’ Value Proposition

As a diversified company with a myriad of media holdings and a presence in the event space, High Times has a number of revenue streams.

Fox sees live events as the main source of revenue for High Times, but is also placing big bets on brand licensing. It’s all about margins.

Everything we do works together, but if I had a pie chart in front of me, those would probably be the two biggest single buckets where revenue would come from,” he added.

When it comes to debt, High Times’ most debentures are convertible and most holders would rather convert it into equity, because “they believe in the story.”

From Outlaw To Vogue?

For over a year, High Times has been raising money from retail investors through a RegA+ offering. To date, more than 22,000 individual investors have chipped in over $15 million to make High Times’ Nasdaq debut a reality.

Now, it seems these investors might finally get their pay-off. Fox suggested the company’s stock will be on an exchange “soon enough,” with the Nasdaq still being the preferred outcome. Their plan is to complete the listing this quarter, but there might be some roadblocks along the way.

Once High Times is trading on an exchange, people looking to get exposure to the cannabis space, will have the opportunity to buy shares of a long-standing cannabis company with a large IP portfolio and a variety of revenue-generating businesses.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of businesses that have the bedrock that we have, that history, and foundational business. That’s the advantage for investors looking for something to invest in within the cannabis space – it’s very rare to be able to reach for that proverbial brass ring, but also have a seat up on the carrousel and that’s what I believe High Times provides,” Fox said.

Beyond its current businesses, High Times is looking into international expansion opportunities. Mexico, South America, and Europe are top priorities, Fox said.

Javier Hasse occasionally contributes to High Times and Dope Magazine. Benzinga staff writers Alex Oleinic and Eric TerBush contributed to this report.

Photos courtesy of High Times.

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Posted-In: Adam Levin Cannabis Cup culture Dope MagazineCannabis Top Stories Markets Interview Best of Benzinga


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