Can Sodastream’s former CEO take cannabis to a billion dollar business? From a fizz to a buzz? Sodastream’s last CEO Daniel Birnbaum, the one who managed to seal a deal with PepsiCo and sell the Israeli business for $3.2 billion is now going into the cannabis growing business. Using the same “cartridge” or consumables approach where you pop in boxes of nutrients to grow plants (instead of sweet stuff to make soda), Birnbaum will now lead the grow box company Seedo into a mega-business in the US and beyond. That’s the hope.
Seedo, listed in the US (OTC: SEDO), was founded in Haifa in 2013 under the name Enroll Grow Tech. It is one of the many companies from Israel, including flux, working to automate cannabis growing. Seedo has built an appliance that helps people with no experience growing anything, grow cannabis for their own personal supply.
Sodastream’s product is a home appliance that makes it easy for consumers to produce their own soda and carbonated beverages at home. Seedo aims to be the same kind of product that helps people effortlessly grow their own cannabis in places where it is legal.
There is a very interesting constellation of stars now forming around Birnbaum. Two weeks ago he also invested in the Israeli company Cannabit (TASE:CANNBIT-M), poised to export medicinal and recreational cannabis it will grow in Israel. The company listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Market, the TASE, has doubled in share price since Birnbaum’s investment was announced. The world-leading researcher in cannabis, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam’s joining the board as chairman may also have something to do with the sudden interest in the stock.
Birnbaum co-invested about $6.6 million in Cannabit along with Barak Rosen, the controlling shareholder of Israel Canada – according to Globes, a local Israeli business newspaper. This gives them a controlling share. One of the many rumors suggest that Birnbaum will apply his knowledge in the beverage market to create CBD (cannabis without the high) drinks using raw materials that Cannabit will supply.
Birnbaum not only joins as the chairman of Seedo, he also invested about $550,000 in the company. Seedo is a grow box technology that can help people and businesses automate cannabis growing. There are dozens if not hundreds of grow boxes now on the market. There is Grobo, Leaf, and in bigger sizes pod companies like Freight Farms and hundreds of companies that produce tents, lighting, controlling systems (Smartbee) and quite literally so many configurations of equipment that it is too early to say who will come out as the next Netflix or Amazon of growing technology.
Once when someone wanted to grow their own cannabis for smoking the THC Tetrahydrocannabinol or CBD Cannabidiol (there are an estimated 80+ molecules in the marijuana plant) people would build their own stealth-like growing chambers in closets where they could control lighting, humidity and well, steer clear of the authorities. This started as a means to grow cannabis illegal but growers soon realized that controlling multiple parameters such as lighting, nutrients and humidity could grow a superior product out of it.
In countries like Canada where hydroponics was pioneered, cannabis is now fully legal, recreationally and medicinally and in about half of all the States in the US, cannabis is legal in some format. In some states like California and Colorado it is fully legal, and in the remainder, cannabis is accessible if you have a permit from a doctor, which is usually easy to obtain.
Israel, many feel, is going towards full legalization.
The news that Birnbaum is moving into cannabis and medical marijuana only goes to show how the perception of cannabis use and growing is changing in the west. From soda to a business, which is still mired in some ways by seedy smoke lounges and head shops.
Medical marijuana now has chops in the medical world: Research in all manners of diseases and ailments is being performed in reputable labs (thanks to early pioneers like Israel’s Raphael Mechoulam who just joined the board of Cannabit) and new research papers are being published in journals around the world.