Which Media Companies Stand to Benefit Most from the Rise of Cannabis?
Why Weedmaps, LinkedIn, Clubhouse, Twitter, and Leafly are all positioned to benefit from the rise of cannabis.
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The cannabis industry is growing at an incredibly rapid rate; so which media companies are best positioned to benefit from the green rush?
Set to go public later this year at a valuation in excess of $1.5 billion USD, Weedmaps has amassed millions of followers on social media from creating high-quality cannabis content and sharing it online.
Though the majority of its revenue comes from the marketplace where cannabis retailers pay monthly fees so that consumers can view their inventory and place orders, the success of Weedmaps has had as much to do with its approach to branding itself through high-quality social media content.
As a billion-dollar company, it seems to me that this big bet on content has paid off many times over.
With a treasure chest of capital on the way from going public, I expect to see Weedmaps continue to make investments in this area as it seeks to expand and remain a market leader as they face ever-increasing competition from Dutchie and I Heart Jane.
(📸 / Weedmaps)
The green rush has also led to a hiring boom. As one of the fastest-growing fields, cannabis continues to add jobs and attract talent from other industries.
As the leading professional networking platform, LinkedIn is perfectly positioned to capture much of the upside. Once exclusively a networking platform, LinkedIn has become a content platform/media company in its own right.
Rather than follow in the footsteps of their counterparts at Facebook, LinkedIn has decided to embrace the cannabis industry, hosting a good deal of the conversations taking place between cannabis newcomers and veterans alike.
I commend LinkedIn for taking this route. It’s difficult to say exactly how many cannabis professionals are actively using LinkedIn at present, but I suspect the figure to be in the hundreds of thousands.
Hot take: There will be over a million cannabis professionals using LinkedIn on a weekly basis within four years.
This new Silicon Valley craze has grown exponentially in the last few months, moving from thousands of daily users to millions.
Thankfully, Clubhouse has followed in the footsteps of platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter and has avoided censoring cannabis content.
Clubhouse is new, and it remains to be seen whether this platform can truly achieve mainstream adoption, given that LinkedIn currently has 100x its active users.
That said, if Clubhouse can continue to grow exponentially and cater to its users, there could be an opportunity to move the cannabis conversation to this platform.
Being tolerated is always good, but being embraced would be even better.
I have included Instagram on this list despite the fact that they are actively censoring cannabis content on their platform.
There are 24 million accounts following the #cannabis hashtag, meaning that there is a strong interest in cannabis from a non-negligible number of Instagram users.
24 million people may seem insignificant relative to the billion who currently use the platform, but it’s a large number for any media company.
It’s also worth noting that Instagram is not censoring celebrities who post images of themselves consuming cannabis.
This post from Miley Cyrus has received over 3,000,000 likes—and counting—since she posted it last night.
(📸 / Miley Cyrus)
Leafly is one of the few real media companies on this list, despite the fact that it has branded itself as a technology company.
Leafly has tried to create technologies in the past, but what’s allowed it to become a household name is its decision to create high-quality educational content for cannabis consumers.
The company may have lost some momentum in recent years, with Weedmaps having more active users and a higher growth rate, but Leafly remains one of the best-known cannabis resources in the world.
Even if it doesn’t expand quickly, I’m still convinced that Leafly is a very valuable company and will be around for many years, if not decades to come.
Credit where credit is due, Twitter has been incredibly welcoming to cannabis.
There is a large cannabis community on the platform, in addition to Twitter being one of the very few social media platforms that permits ads from Canadian cannabis producers.
I personally don’t think Twitter is the best platform to go about building a following on, but given the inability to access the advertising features that other large platforms would offer just about every brand outside of cannabis, it has become a go-to resource for the cannabis industry.
What’s the future for cannabis media companies?
Should Weedmaps or Leafly succeed in going public later this year, I foresee a wave of consolidation reaching this vertical of the cannabis industry — similar to what we are seeing on the production side of cannabis.
When all is said and done, there will be a number of cannabis media companies servicing various aspects of the industry with the majority of all profits going to a select number of top brands, many of which already exist: Weedmaps and Leafly.
That said, I remain very confident that some incredible opportunities still exist for entrepreneurs to build cannabis-focused media companies given the demand for high-quality content and the need to localize information for new regions where cannabis can now be sold.
Will these companies achieve billion dollars valuations? Perhaps not, but who ever said success has to be defined as a billion-dollar estimate?
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