The PayPal Of Recreational Pot: Startup Aims To Eliminate Cash From Washington State Marijuana business

WASHINGTON: Recreational marijuana may be legal in Washington state, but in many ways, it’s still a risky business.

The biggest risk is that nearly all transactions happen with cash. And not just customers buying marijuana, but much bigger transactions when retailers buy from the producers that actually grow the pot.

Everyone uses cash because banks, which are federally regulated, aren’t keen on the idea of getting into business in an industry that is still federally illegal.

Now, there’s a company that’s bringing electronic payments to the world of recreational marijuana, and it could be a game-changer.

Pitching Marijuana Startups Brings New Meaning To High Tech

CALIFORNIA: Investing in a social network closely tied to a booming industry sounds great, until Apple kicks the thing you invested in out of the App Store because the platform is all about marijuana.

It’s one of the many things that can happen when two of the fastest growing industries in America come together, as is taking place this week in San Francisco, where several dozen entrepreneurs are pitching 200 or so investors, Shark Tank style.

Organizers of the investor-pitch forum cite as legitimacy the recent multimillion dollar investment by Silicon Valley titan Peter Thiel‘s Founders Fund in a holding company of several marijuana-related firms. The entrepreneurs at the Fairmont Hotel are pitching startups selling marijuana-growing equipment, apps that help with medicinal marijuana delivery, and even a spray that an entrepreneur says was developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that coats marijuana with grower information, acting as a kind of DNA bar code.

“It’s more suited to what cannabis would be in the future,” says DNA Trek founder Anthony Zografos.

Since Colorado and Washington first voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in late 2012, the legal cannabis market has grown from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. That kind of velocity gets the attention of investors, many of whom focus on tech.

Peter Thiel’s Fund Invests In Marijuana Equity Firm

WASHINGTON:  Peter Thiel, one of the early investors in Facebook, Lyft and Spotify, is turning his attention to marijuana.

Founders Fund announced Thursday that it has made a multi-million-dollar investment in Privateer Holdings, the world’s first private equity firm investing exclusively in the legal cannabis market. Founders Fund is backed by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal. Founders Fund has more than $2 billion in assets under management.

“Founders Fund is known for making some of the most lucrative and radically transformational investments of the past decade,” Privateer Holdings CEO Brendan Kennedy said in announcing the deal. “With this investment they are signaling that they, like us, believe that the end of prohibition and the social harms it causes is inevitable.”