Last week, the cannabis media platform Herb, announced it had raised $4.1 million in seed funding.
Some of those who invested in this round included Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke and Liquid 2 Ventures, which is a firm led by football great Joe Montana.
There was a real appetite for this capital raise, and I’m not surprised.
While there are plenty of options for investing in the cannabis space, media and lifestyle brands could be some of the most profitable.
Herb is actually a pretty solid operation, offering timely news stories and a pretty active social media presence. I also like it because it doesn’t look like some amateurish stoner site with a bunch of annoying pop-ups and Google ads. Herb also has a decent roster of contributors, including Steve Elliot and Christopher Teague.
Of course, Herb isn’t the only media platform with a focus on cannabis. But it’s definitely one of the best in terms of content and credibility.
The only other cannabis-related media and lifestyle platform that has really raised the bar – and could probably raise $4 million in a heart beat, is PROHBTD.
PROHBTD Sets a New Standard
The one thing I really like about PROHBTD is that it’s really more of a vertically-integrated, e-commerce company that not only owns its own content platform and content studio, but also maintains an impressive content distribution network and original talent productions.
To put this in perspective, if PROHBTD were in the comedy business, it would be the Funny or Die brand. A company, by the way, that utilizes a similar platform and pulls in an estimated $40 million a year in revenue.
The bottom line on PROHBTD is that its original video content really sets it apart from everything else.
I particularly like the company’s “Smoking Pot” series, which features short cannabis cooking videos. PROHBTD also runs a series called “PROHBTD Cities,” which quite frankly could rival any big-budget documentary series. One of my favorite episodes is the one they did on Havana.
What PROHBTD has put together is something that still doesn’t really exist yet in the cannabis space. And I suspect a lot of this has to do with the fact that it’s run by folks who have a long history of creating media and lifestyle success stories.
Co-Founder Drake Sutton-Shearer has a 20+ year track record of building branded digital media and lifestyle driven marketing businesses with billings in excess of $50 million. This guy’s done partnerships with Warner Bros., Universal, SONY, The Walking Dead, Mountain Dew, MTV, Pepsi, Hard Rock Hotel, and Target.
Co-Founder Kieve Huffman has a 20+ year track record of scaling product-focused digital businesses inside large and small organizations. He led the digital business at BMG US, and led the $250 million digital distribution business for post-merger Sony BMG.
Then there’s Co-Founder Josh Otten, who’s developed, financed and produced TV shows and documentaries that have been licensed globally to FOX, CBS, Spike TV, Discovery, and IFC.
Bottom line: You’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-connected, best-of-breed management team in this space. And in terms of little more than the ability to make a lot of money, PROHBTD has built, and continues to develop a very impressive operation with a very long shelf life.
It should also be noted that PROHBTD does quite well in terms of in-market traffic comparables, beating out some of the bigger names on “time on site,” page views, and bounce rates. In other words, they’re incredibly valuable to advertisers.
Truth is, given the talent, content, and the fact that the company simply has strong engagement and considerably high retention rates, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a major media company just simply acquire the whole operation.
This isn’t to say media platforms like Herb and High Times and a handful of others aren’t valuable, too. They absolute are. To suggest otherwise would be foolish. But make no mistake, the good folks at PROHBTD are definitely raising the bar. And when it comes to the legal cannabis market, we definitely need more of this.