High Times, the venerable marijuana magazine turned media company, has been undergoing a radical transformation since an investor group led by Adam Levin acquired it about a year ago.
High Times has announced a string of acquisitions (mostly of competing marijuana publications) and expansions in the booming “canna-business” sector. It has added high-profile board members such as former Mexico President Vicente Fox Quesada. And now the company is checking off even more boxes in the game of Media-Tech Buzzword Bingo.
For the past six weeks, the parent company High Times Holding Co. (HTHC for short; get it?) has been selling shares to investors through Reg. A+, the SEC’s equity crowd-funding rules. HTHC is conducting what the SEC calls a “mini IPO,” raising required capital before a public offering expected later this year on NASDAQ.
The company said that more than 1,000 people have already bought several million dollars worth of its shares through the Reg. A+ process. Today, HTHC announced it would make those purchases even easier, allowing buyers to use the popular cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum to pay for shares.
“As a company, we looked at all avenues for raising money,” Levin said. “From an entrepreneur’s perspective, one has to have looked at the growth in (cryptocurrency Initial) Coin Offerings and be aware of it. But we weren’t sure it was the right path for us necessarily. We believe that we are using some of the best elements of both (approaches) in now accepting cryptocurrencies.”
Yes, the company is still taking good old fiat currencies from willing buyers. And even the cryptocurrency transactions will be handled by a third-party clearinghouse, FundAmerica, in much the way traditional credit-card purchases are handled for millions of merchants every day.
But opening the share sales to the two most prominent cryptocurrencies offers several possible advantages, Levin said. It makes the process simpler for some international buyers. And given the many banking headaches facing most cannabis-related companies because of conflicting state and federal regulations, cryptocurrencies can sidestep other problems facing some in the sector.
And besides, Levin said, this approach might also build bridges with a like-minded and even more buzzy community of technology investors:
“We thought this was a hybrid approach of sorts where we can allow the coin investor to invest in High Times, and allow us to embrace a community that we think shares some of the same values that High Times has had for the last 40 years.”