BRENDAN KENNEDY received an engineering degree, started a software firm and sold its assets to Boeing, studied for a Yale MBA and then joined a Silicon Valley bank reviewing new-business proposals. His latest venture takes a sharp turn off the beaten path. Mr Kennedy has become an investor in the marijuana business.
The business case for funding the cannabis industry rests on two things. The first is its scale. Many of the novel ideas Mr Kennedy appraised during his job in Silicon Valley, from electric cars (Fisker and Tesla) to daily coupons (Groupon), had potentially large markets. Marijuana is already an established business. After six months of research and interviews with growers, dispensaries, trade publications and political organisations, Mr Kennedy believes the American market to be worth $50 billion.
Mr Kennedy says Privateer has received over 200 investor pitches since November: potential acquisitions include a testing lab and a clothing company. The fund is now raising another $7m privately, and a public offering is possible once the Securities and Exchange Commission finalises new rules on “crowd-sourced funding” and small public flotations. That will write a new chapter in the story of high finance.