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High Times publisher hires former Overstock president as CEO

James Leggate

High Times hired a former president of Overstock as its new CEO, the marijuana magazine’s parent company announced this week.

Stormy Simon will lead Hightimes Holding Corp., the 45-year-old magazine’s parent company, as it looks for new ways to monetize its audience, the company announced this week. She’s been a member of the company’s board of directors for two years.

“I’ve loved this brand for most of my life,” Simon tweeted. “They educated me about cannabis decades before it was cool.”

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The company announced the departure of its former CEO and president, Kraig Fox, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this week.

Hightimes Holding has been buying other marijuana-related properties in the past few years, including media brands like Green Rush Daily, Dope Media and Culture Magazine and events like the Cannabis Cup and Spannabis — Europe’s largest cannabis industry event. The company also launched its own “over-the-top” streaming channel, High Times TV, available on platforms like Apple TV and Roku.

The company’s revenue for the sixth months ending June 30, 2019, were up 20.7 percent compared to a year earlier, driven by a surge in advertising that more than offset drops in festival and merchandising revenues, the company said in its most recent annual report. That steep increase in publishing and advertising was the result of adding new publications to its portfolio, a factor which also contributed to a 122 percent increase in operating costs, according to the report.

Hightimes Holding has been struggling with its IPO. In May, the company said it had sold just $15.2 million in shares out of the $50 million it was seeking, despite plans to accept non-traditional payment forms like cryptocurrencies bitcoin and ethereum.

Simon said in a press release that she’s “honored to take on this role at such a pivotal time for this iconic brand.”

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“The cost of customer acquisition has plagued the cannabis industry thus far, but utilizing the High Times brand’s global audience, we should be able to monetize our traffic by connecting consumers to cannabis products at an unprecedented scale,” she said.

Simon spent more than 15 years at Overstock, serving in a variety of managerial and executive roles after starting there in a temp role. By the time she left the company in 2016, Simon was a member of the company’s board of directors.

Adam E. Levin, executive chairman of Hightimes Holding, said Simon “has extensive internal business relations and marketing experience, and is highly skilled at breaking down and rebuilding departments.”

“Stormy revolutionized Overstock.com’s marketing department, and then its customer service department, during an uncharted time in e-commerce history, eventually leading Overstock.com to increase its revenues from $20 million to over $2 billion,” Levin said in a press release.

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