As the cannabis market becomes one of the largest grossing sectors of the economy, companies like Apple, Google and Bose are losing some of their high-up executives to the booming industry. After working for these top-tier businesses, these individuals bring a unique set of skills and impressive knowledge that is helping to advance the cannabis industry more quickly than ever. Their well-known names also help to bring legitimacy to an area that many people have previously questioned. These 10 big business executives left their jobs to pursue their dreams of growing the cannabis industry.
1. Ross Bradshaw
After spending three years working for the premier sound company, Bose, Ross Bradshaw wanted a change. What started as a side project, which he worked on during his time off, quickly grew into a full-time job.
Bradshaw developed Healthy Headie Lifestyle, a new way for online shoppers to purchase and browse cannabis smoking accessories.
After assuming the position of Director of Operations, Bradshaw left Bose to peruse the website with his full attention.
I wanted to be part of history. I know we hear it all the time, but this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a revolution. I wanted to chart my own course and make a name for myself.
2. Mark Williams
After meeting his partner, Sasha Robinson, at Burning Man in 2007, Mark Williams knew it was time to take his 25 years of experience in Silicon Valley to a different platform.
Working with companies like Apple left him with a vast amount of experience and knowledge is many different sectors of business, so it was only logical that he go on to form his own company. Along with Robinson, Williams went on to create Firefly, a high-end vaporizer that has changed the way smokers vape.
Entering the cannabis industry was never the intention. We thought we could make a really great vaporizer that could deliver something way better than anyone has ever had before, no matter what people choose to put into it.
3. James Kennedy
James Kennedy founded Apothecanna in 2009, after spending four years working for Aveda in product development. He wanted to bring an all-natural topical line to the cannabis world and that’s exactly what he did.
After spending a year being mentored by Aveda’s founder, Horst Rechelbacher, Kennedy was certain he had the required knowledge to bring his ideas to life. By developing the cannabis industry’s lead topical line, Kennedy has combined his time in the beauty industry, with his love of the cannabis industry, seamlessly.
Horst taught me about plant synergies and creating harmonic balances and was also very influential in helping me to understand the importance of fair trade-sourcing agreements and why it’s important to have a ridiculously high bar for quality control. The values I learned from him stay very true to how Apothecanna operates today.
4. Paul Campbell
After working as the global social media campaigns lead for Microsoft, Paul Campbell decided to pursue different dreams and became the president of Leafly, the world’s largest cannabis website. He helped to take the website from a strain catalog to so much more.
My experience at Microsoft gave me valuable experience in both business and technology, and now at Leafly, innovation is at the core of everything we do. We’re moving at an unbelievable pace to create new ways for people to learn about cannabis and share their experiences.
5. Lance Galey
Lance Galey left his chief cloud architect job at Autodesk to head up the social media app, MassRoots. This cannabis-friendly platform allows users to interact and share their cannabis experiences on a global scale.
Galey has been the VP for Salesforce and worked with Disney and Amazon prime. He believes his expertise will help to elevate the cannabis industry by bringing people together.
There is a massive market opportunity in cannabis right now. The long game has already started, and there is enough fear around the industry that tells me this is actually the very moment to be here.
6, 7, 8. Peter Bain, Jonathan Bernbaum and Tania Goulart
This group of three made up much of the leading workforce for GoPro. After being poached by Pax, the premier vape company, they left their steady jobs to become the VP of marketing, director of international sales and marketing operations manager.
On a leap of faith, Peter Bain, Jonathan Bernbaum and Tania Goulart ventured into the cannabis market with their technology knowledge to help form some of the most sought out vapes on the market today. Bain explains:
I personally feel strongly about helping to mainstream and normalize the conversation about cannabis, and working with vapor products allows me to do that. Pax, as a company, is so well-positioned with some of the most talented engineers I’ve worked with, we have first-class customer service and an innovative approach to marketing.
9. Alan Gertner
As a corporate strategist for Google, Alan Gertner spent six years of his life traveling the world and learning the ins and outs of operating a successful business.
During a trip to Ghana, Gertner made the decision to go into his business with his father, Lorne Gertner, who had already become the co-found of Canada’s first publicly traded cannabis company, Cannasat Therapeutics.
The two merged together to form Tokyo Smoke, a coffee bar and cannabis showroom, that combines people’s love of caffeine, cannabis and clothing.
Leaving the corporate world was about finding something to work on that was more important than me. I connected with the cannabis movement, and believe that bringing elegance, thoughtfulness and normalization to it can change our world.
10. Eric Eslao
After spending six years working as Apple’s senior producer for the worldwide marketing of iTunes, Eric Eslao left the company to pursue a sweeter adventure.
Eslao began the high-end chocolate company, Défoncé Chocolatier, which produces exquisite cannabis-infused edibles of the highest quality.
I absolutely loved working at Apple, but I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I felt I could make a bigger impact by starting my own company. I founded Défoncé because my passions for both chocolate artisanship and cannabis connoisseurship found a home in one pursuit.