Lakewood, CO

Lakewood cannabis publisher, event company sells for $120 million

Matt Whittaker

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Marijuana buds with marijuana joints and cannabis oil.Freepik

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Lakewood, Colo.) A New York-based trade show and conference operator paid $120 million for a Front Range-headquartered cannabis industry publisher and event producer.

Emerald Holding, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company that hosts more than 140 business-to-business events a year, said this week it had completed the acquisition of Lakewood-based MJBiz. The Colorado company produces MJBizDaily, Hemp Industry Daily, MJBiz Magazine and MJBizCon, the oldest and largest cannabis trade show in America.

“Our organization has experienced massive growth since its inception, initially as a how-to resource to help dispensary owners run their businesses better, into our position today as the leading commercial resource for the cannabis sector," said Cassandra Farrington, MJBiz co-founder and board chair.

Business approaching pre-pandemic levels

Founded in 2011, MJBiz rode the increasing demand for information and business connections that came with the wave of state-level cannabis legalization across the country.

Last year it brought in revenues of about $27 million, approaching pre-pandemic levels. From 2017 through 2019, the MJBiz content platform increased revenue at a compound annual rate of 38 percent.

The MJBizCon event in October hosted more than 1,200 exhibiting companies and 27,000 attendees in Las Vegas, rivaling levels seen before the pandemic.

"Integrating with a larger organization provides the additional resources and channels to unlock the next phase of MJBiz’s growth and is the right next step in our evolution as a business," Farrington said.

Emerald may pay more

To acquire the company, Emerald paid $120 million on closing of the transaction and may make additional payments depending on how MJBiz performs this year.

Farrington and MJBiz co-founder Anne Holland will continue to consult with the business.

“We have long admired MJBiz’s sterling reputation for being the most trusted event and content producer serving the business side of the cannabis and hemp industries and their respective participants," Emerald's CEO Hervé Sedky said.

"MJBiz’s leading event and content portfolio coupled with their 365-day engagement platform, which connects the entire cannabis supply chain, will diversify our collective product offerings, enhance our growth profile and enable us to deliver even greater value to our customers over the long term," Sedky said.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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