Jun 9, 2020
Bruce Linton fired again; readies new global pot fund
If you're a pot firm with a big balance sheet 'you're ready to go' post-pandemic: Bruce Linton
Less than a year after getting fired from his job as co-CEO of Canopy Growth Corp., Bruce Linton is out of another job after Vireo Health International Inc. announced his ousting as the U.S. cannabis company's executive chairman late Monday.
But Linton appears to be taking his latest dismissal in stride, telling BNN Bloomberg that he may have rubbed Vireo's management the wrong way following a $10.5-million financing that closed in March, roughly $1.3 million of which came from Linton himself.
"When you bring the money in, I wanted to make sure we use it and go hard," Linton said in a phone interview. "I am a more demanding person when I and business colleagues own the company."
Vireo CEO Kyle Kingsley wasn't immediately available for comment, but said in a statement that "we wish Bruce well in his future endeavors." Linton's departure was on a without-cause basis, effective immediately, the company said.
Linton stated the March financing was "probably my most challenging" in his career given that the company was looking to close the deal in the middle of a pandemic when markets were in a free-fall.
"I coordinated financing with the company. It closed in March, I participated in it and perhaps my demanding nature was accelerated because of those events," he said.
The announcement marks the end of Linton's brief seven-month tenure as executive director of Vireo, his first major position since he was abruptly fired from Canopy Growth nearly a year ago.
Linton said he was happy to hear Canopy chief executive David Klein, who previously served as CFO of Constellation Brands Inc., describe him as "aggressive and entrepreneurial", but feels that Canada's lack of political will to take stronger enforcement on the illicit market, eliminate red tape to export legal cannabis or ensure a smooth rollout of licensed retail outlets ultimately hurt Canopy's global ambitions.
"Each person that comes in has to put their stamp on [the company] and I think this one is very clear," he said.
"[Canopy] is going to narrow the things they do and they want to be either number one or two. What I simply wanted was to be number one at everything."
Meanwhile, Linton is already eyeing his next move on the global cannabis stage, launching a Dublin-based investment fund named Oskare Capital later this week.
Linton said the fund will raise roughly 150-million euros in three tranches to support early-stage companies that develop medical and pharmaceutical products that could be later incorporated to utilize cannabinoids.
"We're going to be picking up early-stage [intellectual property] used in other fields that aren't cannabinoids and forming companies through something like an incubator," he said. "So we'll try to have some of the early tech that may be a bit out there that Big Pharma or Big [consumer-packaged goods] companies could one day be interested in."
Aside from his work with Oskare, Linton said he is also fielding pitches for his Collective Growth Corp., a special purpose acquisition company that raised US$150 million when it went public on the Nasdaq last month, and is also becoming active in the burgeoning psychedelic space with board positions at Mind Medicine Inc. and Red Light Holland Corp.
He doesn't appear to hold any animosity toward Vireo despite the termination, stating the company has good production assets and is well-positioned in certain U.S. states when they begin to legalize cannabis recreationally.
"It's a good company, but probably when I'm around 82 years old, I'll be more relaxed and that will be easier for me to stop thinking about taking over the world," Linton said.