Jul 3, 2019

'A sad day for Bruce': Linton finds his zen after Canopy dismissal

Bruce Linton 'not bitter' about abrupt ouster at Canopy Growth


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Outgoing Canopy Growth Corp. co-chief executive and chairman Bruce Linton says he’s not upset with being ousted from the pot firm he co-founded.

“The good news is I’m getting older,” Linton told BNN Bloomberg the day Canada’s largest cannabis producer announced his departure and that co-CEO Mark Zekulin will become the company’s sole boss.

“If I was 27 I’d probably be pissed off and upset. I’m 52, and this isn’t the first time I’ve been fired for being the entrepreneur after five or six years of creating value. My guess is: [Canopy]’s going to do really well and if it was totally dependent on me, it’s probably screwed anyhow.”

The board-level decision to remove Linton from the company he co-founded in 2013 comes days after alcohol giant Constellation Brands Inc. – which made a $5-billion investment in Canopy last August – expressed displeasure with the pot firm’s year-end results.

"While we remain happy with our investment in the cannabis space and its long-term potential, we were not pleased with Canopy's recent reported year-end results," Bill Newlands said on a conference call discussing Constellation's quarterly earnings on June 28.

Newlands added that the company will “aggressively support Canopy on a more focused, long-term strategy to win markets and form factors that matter while paving a clear path to profitability."

Linton said that he understands Constellation – which made a $5-billion investment in Canopy in August 2018 to increase its stake to 35 per cent – wanting to have more say on how the company is led.

“To write a $5-billion cheque for 17 per cent of the company is an incredibly bold move,” Linton said. “I think they’ve earned the right and deserve the right to have more decisive input as to how it’s run. And, sometimes that’s more easily achieved through the next person, rather than the first person.”

However, Linton reaffirmed his belief in the company he started, musing that the job posting to find his replacement will prompt stiff competition.

“Who would not want that job?” Linton quipped. “(It’s) the fastest growth sector on the planet, the only sure-growth sector on the planet, and the company with the most advantages.

“I think the company’s in great shape. It’s just kind of a sad day for Bruce, because you don’t get here by working Monday-to-Thursday.”

As for his future in the cannabis space, Linton said he may pursue working with a pot company, but not one operating in Canada.

“I’ll probably get involved with some cannabis companies that I can support in other jurisdictions,” he said.

“Not Canada. I’m not permitted, nor interested to participate in Canada.”