High Times is still accepting cryptocurrency in its IPO
A happy compromise between inappropriate ICO and leaving crypto money on the table.
Update 15/8/2018: High Times will not be accepting cryptocurrency in its IPO, and in an SEC filing says the initial "press release was distributed in error."
Update 6/9/2018: A High Times representative told CoinDesk something like "sike, we're doing crypto after all." But only functionally, if not technically. For regulatory reasons the crypto payments will be going through a third party to be converted to USD, because it would be a real shame if an upstanding counterculture icon like High Times sullied itself with anything less than good, honest US dollars. In short, crypto is still a go.
Update 19/9/2018: High Times has removed the crypto payment options from its investors page. Non-credible and nonexistent sources say the High Times legal team has barricaded itself in the IT department to prevent the marketing team from putting it back.
The choice to accept cryptocurrency for its initial public offering (IPO) is a happy compromise, says Adam Levin, CEO of High Times, one of the world's best-known and most-venerable marijuana and counterculture media companies. It will be accepting bitcoin and Ethereum with shares going from $11, an estimated 10% discount on the estimated strike price of the Nasdaq listing scheduled for later this year.
An ICO didn't seem right for the company and might have given the wrong vibe to the investors who just want a strong and legitimate public offering rather than a cryptocurrency. At the same time, there's a solid emerging investor base in cryptocurrency, and High Times didn't want to leave them out.
"Cryptocurrencies have created a new investor base across the world—we’re just giving them more stable opportunities for investment," Levin said. "Beginning with our Reg. A+ crowdfunding, we've been focused on giving everyone from retail investors to long-time fans more ways to own a piece of High Times. While we didn’t believe that the ICO process was the right move for our brand, it would've been foolish to leave this emerging investor base out as we continue to transform into a diversified media, events and merchandise giant."
Legalisation is opening doors within doors
It's probably a good time for the IPO as well, with "cannabis stocks" being another circle of investment hype in their own right, and legalisation around the USA and elsewhere opening an enormous opportunity for businesses of different kinds to capitalise on.
As High Times will demonstrate, assuming all goes well, the opportunities go well beyond just the cannabis growers and sellers. It also opens up an ecosystem for events organisers, logistics companies, marketing firms and others to serve them, medical cannabis researchers, specialised equipment manufacturers, lab testing facilities and many more.
"High Times has been at the forefront of popular culture for more than four decades,” Levin said. "Now we’re taking another step into the future, not only as one of the first cannabis-related brands to go public on the Nasdaq but also as the first to allow Bitcoin and Ethereum as part of our public capital raise."
The inherent connections between drugs and cryptocurrency
Given bitcoin's long history as dark web drug money, it's probably going to be hard to separate the stuff from the emerging legal cannabis industry. The cryptocurrency's enormous rise in 2017 would have made a lot of millionaires out of drug professionals and hobbyists alike, who are now looking for things to do with their money and starting their own businesses.
This initial cryptocurrency use case might have also left its fingerprints on the community makeup and political inclinations of today's cryptocurrency users.
At the same time, many of these new cannabusinesses are turning to cryptocurrency and blockchain to solve some of the problems caused by the substance's fractured regulatory state, such as difficulty with banking solutions and ensuring compliance in a complex and quickly-changing ecosystem.
It's hard to separate cannabis and cryptocurrency, and both are simultaneously making their way over a regulatory grey area. A cryptocurrency-friendly IPO might be smart business, as well as a poetically-appropriate hybrid fundraising model for two relatively uncertain industries.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC, ADA