Peter Thiel has a funny relationship with marijuana. In September, he bashed Twitter’s executives and said there was “probably a lot of pot-smoking going on there.”
Now, though, Thiel appears to be putting some cash behind an investment company that is all about pot.
Business Insider reports that Thiel’s Founders Fund is investing in a Series B round for Privateer Holdings, a four-year-old Seattle firm that we first wrote about back in October 2012. Privateer owns and operates a handful of marijuana-related companies, from Leafly — a strain resource app that won GeekWire’s App of the Year award six months ago — to Tilray, a Canadian-based brand of medical marijuana.
Privateer Holdings CEO Brendan Kennedy told GeekWire in July that his company had raised $18 million of its $75 million Series B round. Then, when Privateer announced a unique partnership with Bob Marley’s family in November, Kennedy said his firm planned to close out the Series B round this month.
We’ve reached out to Kennedy about Thiel’s involvement and will update this story when we hear back.
Privateer has come a long way since 2010. It took the company 18 months to raise its first $7 million, funding that Kennedy said was the “most difficult money I’ve ever raised.”
Now, though, investors like Thiel are showing serious interest. While the marijuana industry is still complicated on numerous levels — from legal to political to social issues — the use of cannabis is quickly becoming more mainstream, especially given the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C.
That’s resulted in lucrative opportunities for entrepreneurs. Privateer spent its early days struggling to raise money; now, it’s become much easier as investors are changing their views on marijuana. The firm raised a $22 million Series A round and will have reeled in close to a total of $100 million with this Series B round.
“The investors notice that this could be the next great American industry and are looking to make money,” Troy Dayton, CEO of a legal cannabis-focused angel investor network called The Arcview Group, told us in July. “But they are also looking at this as an impact investment. Many want to see the day when not a single adult is punished for marijuana and they see investing in this industry as a way to make that happen.”