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Privateer Holdings co-founders Michael Blue, Christian Groh and Brendan Kennedy.
Privateer Holdings co-founders Michael Blue, Christian Groh and Brendan Kennedy.

Privateer Holdings is well on its way to becoming one of the country’s top marijuana investment firms.

The Seattle-based holding company today announced the closure of a $75 million Series B round, money that Privateer will use to grow its three marijuana-related startups and expand the firm’s portfolio further.

“This positions us to build a family of global brands over the coming years,” Privateer CEO Brendan Kennedy said of the fresh cash.

privateer121Privateer has come a long way since launching back in 2010, when both the medical and recreational marijuana industries looked far different than now. It started with Leafly, an app for cannabis strains coined as the “Yelp for marijuana,” and later added two other companies: Tilray, a medical marijuana producer in Canada, and Marley Natural, an international brand that sells marijuana-related products.

Along the way, the firm has attracted serious investor attention — but it wasn’t always this way. Kennedy said the $7 million Series A round was the “hardest money” he’s ever raised, given how difficult it was to find investors willing to put money behind marijuana-related companies.

But in the past three years, there’s been huge changes in both a legal sense, but also the overall attitude toward marijuana. Even Founders Fund, the well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm led by Peter Thiel, made a multi-million dollar investment as part of the Series B round.

“The velocity of change is far faster than anything we could have possibly imagined,” Kennedy told GeekWire last week.

Kennedy added that when Privateer raised its first $7 million back in July 2013, many wondered how the firm would even deploy that much money in the marijuana industry. Now, he says the company could “easily spend another $200 million” over the next several years.

“People criticized us for being too optimistic, but it’s amazing how quickly this industry is transforming from an elicit industry to fully legal,” Kennedy said.

Privateer did not disclose who led the Series B round. It has now raised a total of $82 million to date and employs 250 across the three holding companies and the firm itself.

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