High Times is preparing to go public later this year with a valuation of $250 million — the same amount Jeff Bezos paid for the Washington Post in 2013.
There’s no guessing whether the Post has gone up or down in value since 2013, but it may well have climbed given its skyrocketing web traffic and subscription growth since Donald Trump became president. High Times focuses on a different type of hard — or smooth — hitting journalism, but could also get higher. In terms of value, we mean.
High Times CEO Adam Levin acquired the business earlier this year, when his Oreva Capital paid $70 million for the marijuana mag’s parent company. Last month, High Times entered into an agreement to merge with publicly traded special purpose acquisition company Origo Acquisition Corp. in a move that would take the magazine public — and that values its existing equity at $250 million.
It’s not a traditional IPO — Origo is essentially a public “shell” that will house High Times — but the effect is the same: marijuana enthusiasts or others who just see plenty of green in the cannabis industry can buy stock in their favorite ganja gazette.
While High Times may be associated with a decidedly analog countercultural vibe, the outlet has become a budding player in the new media world. The publication, which relocated to Los Angeles from New York last year, owns 420.com, hightimes.com and cannabiscup.com and has built properties around them.
The company is also launching a podcast network filled with comedians and industry experts, covering cultivation, finance and everything in between. About 70 percent of High Times’ users connect with the company via mobile devices, giving it a younger demographic than the aging hippies who started reading it when it launched in 1974. The outlet also generates the majority of its revenue from live events.
In a release issued when the Origo merger was announced, High Times laid out a growth strategy including leveraging its brand through licensing opportunities, expanding its events business and using its digital presence to drive e-commerce and data collection. The company is also open to pursuing acquisitions — but don’t expect it to drop $13.7 billion on Whole Foods, like Bezos’ Amazon did. That’s too much green even for High Times.