After having secured 150,000 dollars in seed money from the investors who make up The Arcview Group at the beginning of this year, MassRoots—the first online community dedicated exclusively to the use of, and legalization of cannabis—has grown to a social network with upwards of 170,000 users, millions of monthly photo views, and more than 50,000 new app openings on a daily basis.
Unlike Facebook which requires that new users provide their real names as part of their registration process, people are able to sign up on MassRoots anonymously. The app is most similar to Instagram, and marijuana enthusiasts are able to upload their smoking selfies, stories, weed memes, and everything else ganja related that other likeminded dope smokers and pro-marijuana advocates will appreciate. More importantly, they can do so freely without having to worry about their family members or coworkers looking.
It is also an amazing resource for the ever increasing numbers of dispensaries and other ancillary businesses (rolling papers, bongs, vaporizers etc.) who want to easily reach their target audience. For example, in the last couple of years there has been a boom in the availability of portable vaporizers, compact grow ops, and many other really cool gadgets. MassRoots is a perfect place for these new companies to get right at their consumers.
The site’s owners and founders are in their early twenties, and after the initial cash injection from The Arcview Group, they have in fact gone on to secure more than 625,000 dollars in venture capital.
A Sign Of The Times
Let’s step back from these statements of fact for a second, and examine what they reveal about the changing times we are living in. If someone told you only a handful of years ago that there would be groups of angel investors ready to invest six figures in a social networking site dedicated to all things weed smoking, would you have believed them?
Stop for a minute, and pretend you’re back in the year 2004, a mere one decade ago. George W. Bush is on his way to a second term as president of the United States, and it’s only been a year since he stepped out onto the deck of the Aircraft Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln—looking like a total jackass in a flight suit— to proclaim the “end to major combat operations in Iraq”. This is the year that the media will feign moral indignation at the sight of Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple during the Superbowl half-time show, and millions will gather to watch the last episode of the sitcom “Friends”. At the end of this year, on the day after Christmas, a Tsunami will devastate the Asian continent.
Terms like “social media”, “apps”, “social network” and the like are still years away from being part of every day jargon yet. Sure, it is 2004 and you might have a Myspace page, but it’s mostly so crummy emo bands can send you spam. Facebook has been invented this year back in February, but it is still at least 2 years away from becoming mainstream, and 4 years away from becoming common place. As for marijuana drug law reform, there are some really good arguments for decriminalization and legalization, but those voices are considered to be on the fringe. “Dubya” is still president, and the war on drugs is still in full effect.
A Time Traveler
Now let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re minding your own business in 2004 and a time traveler from the year 2014 pays you a visit.
“Greetings. I am from the year 2014, and I am here to tell you that ten years from now, legal cannabis will be one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. Last year in 2013, the sales of legal cannabis exceeded 1.43 billion. Sales of legal marijuana have only increased this year, and this trend is only going to continue”
“It’s expected that profits in the legal cannabis industry will eclipse those of smartphones. It’s not just the straight up leafy bud you smoke either; different edibles, concentrates, and marijuana extracts that have high concentrations of THC, as well as others that are low in THC but high in COB, are being developed all the time”
“Then there’s the social networking site MassRoots, which allows marijuana enthusiasts to connect with one another, and allows businesses in the legal cannabis industry to connect with their base. The Arcview Group invested 150,000 at the end of 2013. In fact, this group is exclusively committed to managing the investment funds for growth companies in the legal Cannabis industry. Anyway, I gotta go. Bye!”
Imagine all of the questions the 2004 version of you would have for this hypothetical time traveler. “What’s ‘social networking’?” “Cannabis is legal?” “Smartphones?”
Back To The Future
Snapping back to present day 2014, and to say that there has been a major tectonic shift is an understatement. Social media is everywhere, and it is often one step ahead of the “media”. Moreover, it’s not at all uncommon for people today to have more than one online presence—a Facebook account to share videos of goats yelling like humans, a different account to show off artistic creations, one for dating, and one for professional life. But what about an online outlet where you can just be super stoked on weed without judgment?
That’s where MassRoots comes in, and on the very site the mission is clear: ““Just as LinkedIn has become a person’s professional identity and Tinder has become a person’s dating identity, we want MassRoots to be a person’s marijuana identity,”
The financial backing is for real too. The Arcview Group boasts heirs to vast family fortunes and experienced venture capitalists with proven track records amongst its ranks, The minimum investment is 50,000 dollars, and if you want the group to finance your weed related business you need more than just a crazy-idea-that-just-might-work that you thought up while you were stoned. You are going to need a real business plan. The heavy hitting Duchess Capital investment firm has also thrown their weight behind MassRoots.
So yes, we’re living in a world where a mobile app and social network that is devoted entirely to Marijuana has amassed hundreds of thousands of users. It has also received hundreds of thousands dollars in financial backing. It’s a reality. It makes you wonder what’s next. Might a crowdfunding site aimed specifically at financing breast augmentation surgery possibly be on the horizon? Oh wait, never mind, that already exists (NSFW). Who would have imagined that back in 2004.