Hightimes Holding Corp. told investors that it accepted the resignation of Kraig G. Fox as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and President Effective December 24, 2019. On January 6, 2020, Stormy Simon, one of the Company’s independent directors and former President of Overstock.com Inc., was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer of the company by the board of directors. Following her appointment, she will also continue serving as a director on the Company’s board of directors.
The change is happening as the cannabis publication prepares to develop its physical and virtual distribution businesses. Having spent the last year acquiring Cannabis media publications and web sites, High Times now looks to monetize its audience of millions of users across the globe. Fox was just hired in April with the intent to finally bring the company public, a move that has been discussed for years at this point. Instead, the launch of the publicly traded stock got delayed again. Fox’s background as a Senior Managing Director of Guggenheim Partners where he focused on Guggenheim’s overall strategy in the media and entertainment spaces as well as the management of its media and entertainment investments was seen as an asset.
Fox was also a founder and Chief Operating Officer of Core Media (previously CKX, Inc.) where he oversaw all operations of this publicly-traded company including Core’s interests in the estate of Elvis Presley and the intellectual property rights of Muhammad Ali as well oversight of its wholly-owned subsidiary, 19 Entertainment, which included American Idol (including television, records, lives tours, artist management and sponsorships) and So You Think You Can Dance. It was anticipated he would capitalize on the name brand of High Times through licensing deals.
Recently, Fox had suggested the company would pivot into consumption cafes and dispensaries and away from cannabis content. Now, it seems there is another pivot away from that idea and Fox has left.
“I’m honored to take on this role at such a pivotal time for this iconic brand. 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,” Stormy Simon stated. “Like millions of other people, I have trusted High Times for years and I can’t wait to use my experience to help develop the next iteration of our business: delivering the best products into consumers’ hands.”
Levin will remain in his role as Executive Chairman. He said, “Stormy Simon, who rose through the ranks at Overstock.com during her 15-year tenure with the company, has extensive international 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.”
According to the company’s filings, Ms. Simon will receive a base salary of $300,000 per year, payable in equal monthly installments, provided that the Base Salary shall initially be fixed at $215,000 and the remainder of the Base Salary shall accrue until, and be payable at, such time as the Company shall have raised an additional $10 million. In addition to the salary, Simon will get an annual bonus of up to $225,000 for each calendar year of her employment with the company depending on the High Times’ ability to achieve certain performance goals. She will also have an option to buy 200,000 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $11.00 per share. One-third of those options vest on January 6, 2020, and the balance of such option shares vesting in equal monthly increments over the remaining two year period.
Simon will also receive a $3,000 travel stipend for company travel between San Jose and Los Angeles for the first six months of employment.
Fox will continue to receive his director and officer insurance policy, and High Times agreed to reimburse Mr. Fox for certain previously incurred business expenses (within five days) of successful completion of sales of an additional $5 million of equity securities or $10 million of proceeds from the sale of debt securities. He is expected to be reimbursed $125,000 with respect to expenses and lease payments for which Fox provided the company with receipts.