High Times Magazine, the New York Times of weed publications and the Playboy of cannabis centerfolds, was acquired by an investment group, as announced by the publication last week.
The publication has had the same ownership since 1974. The new owners are an investment firm called Overa Capital. The face of this firm, and interim CEO, is Adam Levin. Levin made very clear his vision for the future of the company (or “brand”) in press interviews and statements after the purchase’s announcement.
“We are going to build on the strong base they created to bring HIGH TIMES from the authority in the counterculture movement to a modern media enterprise,” Levin said in an article published by the magazine. “It has great brand equity and a solid audience base. But I think most would agree it was not executing business at max potential under the legacy framework established by the founders.”
So what does this mean for the future of cannabis culture and news? It means, for one thing, that the most recognizable name in marijuana culture is going to now be run by very aggressive investment folks.
“To say we are bullish about the opportunities to expand HIGH TIMES would be an understatement,” Levin said. And he told news source Cheddar that Overa’s plans include expanding High Times’ merchandising, as well as planning many new Cannabis Cups around the country and globe.
One clue to how the company will be run in the future may come from the article “New Highs! High Times Acquired by Tech and Entertainment Conglomerate.” The article has no problem with being misleading before you even click on it. For one, it’s not an article, as one might be led to believe considering they found it on a news site.
Instead, it’s a press release filled with self-aggrandizing hyperbole for the publications’ new owners, as can be seen in the headline itself. To call Overa a “tech and entertainment conglomerate” would be an overstatement. Crunchbase, an investment database, numbers Overa’s acquisitions at just one company: High Times.
A similar misleading overstatement is made in Levin’s interview with Cheddar wherein he says that the purchasing of High Times by his firm “was valued at $70 million.” The New York Times says that “Oreva Capital, bought a controlling interest at a price that values the magazine at $70 million,” which means that Overa didn’t necessarily actually spend $70 million, only enough to control a business worth $70 million. Crunchbase values the actual purchasing price of the controlling interest at only $42 million, about 40 percent less than Levin suggested it was.
The release suggests new owners who are very, very into branding and diversification and revenue and self-promotion, and not really into, what’s that word again, oh yeah, weed.
Photo via Flickr user Shinya Suzuku