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Civilized, once a high-flying cannabis-media startup, is relaunching after it was forced to lay off its employees in late 2019 when a takeover offer fell through.
The startup raised $7 million from investors including RIV Capital — the former venture arm of Canopy Growth — and celebrities like Chelsea Handler in 2015. It burned through the cash with a series of business pivots and mismanagement on the part of the executive team, former employees told Insider last year.
Civilized relaunched on Thursday as Live Civilized. A press release said the company was undergoing a “strategic brand evolution” to focus on connecting industry leaders with cannabis consumers.
The company will be led by CEO Terri Riedle and Chief Commercial Officer Tricia Vanderslice. Riedle cofounded the company with her husband, former CEO Derek Riedle, who won’t be involved with the company.
In an interview with Insider, Terri Riedle said Civilized would continue to have an editorial division and a marketing arm. Riedle said that she hoped the new Civilized would serve as a platform to connect leaders from the cannabis and adjacent industries with consumers and that it would develop an e-commerce business in the future.
Civilized found itself at the intersection of two collapsing bubbles: cannabis and digital media. But the company’s attempt to relaunch shows the interest that investors have in cannabis and cannabis-related startups.
Riedle said Civilized was not taking on any new investors as it resumes operations. She said 24 of the startup’s initial investors provided funds for the relaunch, but she declined to say how much money.
As part of the relaunch, Riedle said, Civilized had to negotiate a plan to pay back RIV Capital, Civilized’s largest creditor.
“We do have a deal with them that sees them being patient and allowing us to take this fresh capital from existing investors to relaunch, stabilize the company, get our financial footing solidly grounded, and then we can go back to them and work out terms to repay that debt,” she said.
A spokesperson for RIV Capital confirmed the renegotiation and said the firm had not been paid back.
From private jets with Chelsea Handler to laying off employees
After its founding in 2015, Civilized found success as a well-known media brand of the burgeoning cannabis industry. With offices in Los Angeles and Saint John, New Brunswick, the startup quickly attracted editors, writers, videographers, and marketers, peaking at over 30 employees in the middle of 2018. Canada became the first G7 nation to legalize cannabis federally in October that year.
That year, former employees said, the company had even taken steps to go public and touted its ability to reach over 2 million people a month, Insider reported. Derek Riedle, then the CEO, was touring Canada with Handler, putting on town-hall events about the benefits of cannabis legalization.
“Derek was trying to build up his celebrity, which was sort of foolish,” a former senior employee who worked at Civilized from 2016 to 2019 told Insider last year. There was a “blurry line” between Riedle wanting …read more
Source:: Business Insider