Scott Kveton, co-founder and former chief executive of Portland mobile software company Urban Airship, says in a post online that he’s shifting away from tech and pursuing business opportunities created by marijuana legalization.
Marijuana is growing rapidly in social acceptance, writes Kveton, who was an early leader in Portland’s tech renaissance. He suggests Oregon voters’ legalization of the drug last fall gives the state an opportunity to get a jump on the resulting business opportunities.
Kveton was among Portland’s most prominent tech entrepreneurs until last year, when a former girlfriend accused him of a series of sexual assaults. He quit his CEO post at Urban Airship in July.
A Multnomah County grand jury later declined to indict him. The former girlfriend has brought a civil suit against Kveton, seeking $3.3 million in damages. The case is still in the discovery phase, an early stage.
Kveton has kept a low profile in Portland’s business community since leaving Urban Airship, emerging in recent weeks with occasional tweets and topical posts on the blogging platform Medium. He’s giving a public talk February 5 at Ignite Bridgetown, a startup forum at OMSI.
In his post last week, Kveton wrote that he’s spent several weeks exploring opportunities in marijuana.
“As a serial entrepreneur,” he wrote, “I love emerging markets that haven’t been fully-defined. They have so many challenges and opportunities.”
Businesses are springing up across the West to capitalize on potential opportunities in legalized pot. Kveton notes in his blog post that PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested in a private equity firm focused on the marijuana market.
Last November, Oregon voters made the state the third to approve legalized marijuana, joining Washington and Colorado in a closely watched vote. The new law, which takes effect July 1, allows adults over 21 to possess an ounce of marijuana in public and up to 8 ounces at home.
In his post, Kveton writes that he is still exploring opportunities, looking in particular at the interaction between established growers and distributors and mainstream investors and entrepreneurs. He declined to elaborate on his plans beyond what he posted online.
“Oregon has a reputation as a premier producing state. People talk about the marijuana that is grown here all over the world,” Kveton wrote. “I’ll be damned if we’re going to let this massive market pass us by like tech did in the 90’s.”
In a subsequent post, Kveton wrote about visiting marijuana businesses in Colorado and a fading “stigma” associated with the drug.
It’s “becoming a thing you do now before going to a show or at the dinner party with friends,” he wrote, acceptance he ascribes to legalization. “I find this fascinating and think it is a trend that is only going to continue.”
— Mike Rogoway
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