Burn Notice: John Prentice, founder of Canadian cannabis technology platform Ample Organics, resigned from Akerna, the cannabis technology company that also owns MJ Freeway and Trellis. He did so with a bang, lambasting Akerna’s CEO and strategy in an exorciating exit letter, citing “serial layoffs, customer and revenue churn and dilutive deals” as well as an incapable executive leadership. The departure comes only two months after the $45 million acquisition closed.
Why It Matters: If nothing else, it’s a saucy story, right? This exit both feels like a huge story, but also portends more drama to come, as Prentice even alluded, saying “I will have more to say in coming days and months”. The bigger question, then, is whether this is a personal beef, or indicative of something rotten in the state of Akerna. The proof will certainly be in the pudding - Prentice’s sizzling exit could lead to a wildfire, especially if similar issues emerge at Akerna’s other acquisitions (solo, Trellis).
New Kids On The Block: A number of big, acquisitive moves went down this week from some of the less focused on MSOs. Columbia Care acquired Denver-based The Green Solution to substantially increase its footprint, Ascend Wellness raised $68 million and expanded its Illinois presence via acquisition of Modern Cannabis dispensaries, and AYR Strategies bought its way into Pennsylvania in a $57 million transaction.
Why It Matters: All three - Columbia Care, Ascend, and AYR - aren’t the headline MSOs you hear us and other publications talk about as frequently as others. But their lower profile might, in some ways, leave them primed to succeed, as these opportunistic but aggressive moves show. All seemingly have the balance sheets (or ability to raise) to support investing in states viewed as attractive - Illinois and Pennsylvania as limited license havens, Colorado as a fragmented, formerly isolated ecosystem ripe for consolidation. It wouldn’t be surprising to see these names more frequently, especially if their moves stay savvy as these.