High Times changes CEOs again as iconic cannabis brand seeks profitability

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Hightimes Holding Corp. has reshuffled its chief executives, the latest development in the saga of a 46-year-old magazine publisher struggling to evolve into a mainstream, diversified cannabis company.

The company appointed Stormy Simon, former president of the online retailer Overstock.com, to replace Kraig Fox, a media heavyweight who left Los Angeles-based High Times on Dec. 24 after only a nine-month stint.

Fox’s resignation was announced Monday.

Simon served in various roles at Overstock.com for 15 years and has been on the High Times board of directors for the past two years.

The change comes as High Times said it is looking to develop its distribution businesses and take advantage of its acquisitions over the past couple of years, including Dope Magazine, Culture Magazine and Green Rush Daily.

The company also has had plans since early 2018 to issue public stock, a move announced shortly after Adam Levin’s Los Angeles-based private equity company, Oreva Capital, purchased High Times for $42 million in 2017.

High Times recently extended the long-delayed initial public offering date to March 31, 2020, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a news release Monday, Levin, High Times’ executive chair, praised Simon as revolutionizing Overstock.com’s marketing department and added that she is “highly skilled at breaking down and rebuilding departments.”

Said Simon: “I’m honored to take on this role at such a pivotal time for this iconic brand. The cost of customer acquisition has plagued the cannabis industry thus far, but utilizing the High Times brand’s global audience, we should be able to monetize our traffic by connecting consumers to cannabis products at an unprecedented scale.”

It was unclear from the news release what exactly High Times means by developing its distribution businesses and whether it is planning new business lines. The company didn’t immediately respond to Marijuana Business Daily requests for clarification.

High Times has struggled to become profitable and successfully absorb its acquisitions, despite the growing cannabis industry.

In late October, High Times closed the Seattle office of Dope Magazine and laid off most of the magazine employees as part of a restructuring to reduce costs. High Times bought Dope in late 2018 for $11.2 million.

High Times reported revenues of $10.7 million in a six-month period ending June 30, up from $8.8 million during the same period of 2018, according to a November filing with the SEC.

But operating expenses more than doubled to $14 million during the first six months of 2019.

The company derives nearly two-thirds of its revenue from festivals and events, such as the Cannabis Cup, and a little more than a third of its revenue from publishing.

Fox, who had worked as an executive at LiveNation, Core Media (“American Idol”) and Guggenheim Partners, came on board at High Times last April to high acclaim and with plans to steer the company to its next stage and complete the IPO.

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeffs@mjbizdaily.com