Leafly is moving into a bigger headquarters in Seattle as it expands headcount amid a fast-growing cannabis industry.
The marijuana review and discovery website has leased two floors at 333 Elliott West, the former headquarters of Big Fish Games on the Seattle Waterfront, GeekWire has learned. The 50,000-square-foot space is more than three times the size of Leafly’s current downtown Seattle office, and it will have room for 330 employees when it is ready later this summer. It’s the same building where sales automation startup Outreach recently landed.
Leafly, which made slight job cuts about 18 months ago and brought in a new CEO in March, expects to double its workforce by the end of 2019 to nearly 300 people, with a focus on engineering, design and product.
The company launched more than a decade ago and is now riding a massive wave of interest in cannabis as legalization of recreational and medical marijuana increases. Eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and medical use is now legal in 33 states. Funding for cannabis companies more than doubled from 2017 to 2018 to $1.3 billion, according to Crunchbase.
“There is no industry that is more exciting or that will have more innovation over the next three to five years than cannabis,” said Leafly CEO Tim Leslie. “We are at the tip of the iceberg.”
Leafly’s website and apps connect people looking for cannabis with retailers and brands who sell various related products. The company gets 22 million visits per month, and Leafly says it has the most comprehensive database of cannabis strains, with more than 2,900 varieties listed.
“People trust Leafly to help them understand the cannabis landscape, find the products they want, and the best places to buy them,” Leslie said. “That trust, which we work hard to earn every day, is an enormous driver for our business. Trust equals visits.”
Leslie noted that cannabis has evolved beyond “something that gets you high,” pointing to rapid proliferation of CBD as an example. He also said “we are beyond the tipping point in public views on cannabis.”
“You can expect the understanding of cannabis to increase, and you can expect the stigma to decrease,” Leslie said. “And Leafly will be the place that everyone can come to learn about, discover and find these products.”
Leslie joined Leafly six months ago after a 20-year career at Amazon, where he most recently served as vice president of Prime Video International. His appointment followed the departure of former Leafly CEO Chris Jeffery last September, who was removed by the board of directors.
About 125 of Leafly’s nearly 190 current employees are in Seattle. The company has 25 people in Baltimore, a handful in Toronto and Berlin, as well as about 20 remote workers.
Along with adding Leslie, Leafly has made other key executive hires:
- Yoko Miyashita joined Leafly as its new general counsel, coming over from Getty Images. Her duties include compliance, advocacy and government relations, litigation and intellectual property matters and providing counsel for major corporate and commercial transactions.
- Tracie Wurlitzer leads recruiting, developing employees and building culture as the new vice president of human resources. Previously a vice president of HR LivePerson, she has 25 years of experience in the field, including stints at Amazon, BP, Hewlett-Packard and RED Digital Cinema.
- Laura Morarity, a former communications leader at Sonos and Avvo, is Leafly’s new vice president of corporate affairs. She leads all communications and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
- Late last year, the company added Anya Edstrom as vice president of marketing. She spent 13 years at Amazon, most recently leading marketing for Prime Now, and at Leafly she will head up marketing to both consumers and other businesses.
Leafly was founded in 2010 by Cy Scott, Brian Wansolich and Scott Vickers, all of whom left the company to launch another Seattle-area marijuana company, Headset. Leafly was acquired in 2011 Privateer Holdings, the Seattle marijuana investment firm that also owns Canadian cannabis producer Tilray, which has been in the headlines recently after going public.
Though Leafly’s primary goal remains to be the place where people discover cannabis, it is branching out a bit. Following a beta test last year, the company has begun expanding Leafly Pickup, a service that lets customers reserve products from their local dispensary online and then pay for and pick up the items at the store.
Leafly is one of several startups across the Pacific Northwest building cannabis-related companies. Leslie told GeekWire in April that the region been “the epicenter of cannabis culture in North America,” and also a “hub for innovative tech companies.” As a result, Leslie said Seattle is “well positioned” to be a cannabis tech hub.
GeekWire managing editor Taylor Soper contributed to this report.