December 4th, 2012 | University

Yale SOM grads blaze trail into cannabis industry

Two SOM grads are forging a new path into the cannabis industry.
Two SOM grads are forging a new path into the cannabis industry. Photo by Hendrike/Creative Commons.

After the Nov. 6 vote, two Yale grads are taking the marijuana industry by storm, looking to transform the fragmented and largely untapped market into the next great American frontier.

Brendan Kennedy SOM ’05 and Michael Blue SOM ’05 partnered up to form a private-equity firm in Seattle focused solely on the cannabis industry, which they see as an emerging market with great potential.

“It’s the biggest opportunity I’m ever going to see in my lifetime,” said Kennedy to The Seattle Times on Saturday.

Because there is still a federal ban on marijuana, the firm, called Privateer Holdings, does not invest in companies directly growing or selling the substance, Kennedy and Blue said. Rather, they said they see the greatest potential in ancillary companies such as Leafly.com, a website that reviews different strains of the drug.

Kennedy told The Seattle Times that there is a great need for professional management to transform the image of marijuana industry. The firm focuses on companies that have professional, mainstream profiles that would “appeal to a soccer mom,” Kennedy told the Times.

Though last month’s legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington signals the promise of this market, Kennedy said there is still a long way to go.

“I’m waiting for the day when we can go to a conference, and you don’t have to listen to Bob Marley,” he told The Seattle Times.