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NFL Star Joe Montana and Former Yahoo! CEO Invest in NorCal Canna-Brand

What happens when an NFL superhero and a former CEO of a major web service provider invest in a canna company?

A.J. Herrington

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NFL Star Joe Montana and Former Yahoo! CEO Invest in NorCal Canna-Brand
Courtesy of Caliva

NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana and former Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz have invested in Northern California cannabis brand Caliva. The company announced in a press release on Thursday that it had closed its first round of funding after raising $75 million.

Montana, a Super Bowl MVP three times over, founded the venture capital fund Liquid 2 Ventures in 2015. In 2017, the fund was part of a group that invested $4.1 in cannabis technology company Herb. Montana said that he believes that Caliva can provide meaningful benefits while delivering profits.

“As an investor and supporter, it is my opinion that Caliva’s strong management team will successfully develop and bring to market quality health and wellness products that can provide relief to many people and can make a serious impact on opioid use or addiction,” said Montana.

Caliva employs more than 400 people and operates a cannabis cultivation facility and dispensary in San Jose, a distribution center in Brisbane, and a service that delivers marijuana throughout the Bay Area. The company also has its own brand of cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints, and vape pens that are sold in dispensaries throughout California. Its offerings rank among the top ten best selling products in California, according to Headset, a cannabis data analytics platform.

Montana Joined by Tech Exec

Bartz, former CEO of Yahoo! and Autodesk, will also be joining Caliva’s board of directors. She said that she saw great potential in the vertically integrated cannabis company.

“I know great opportunities when I see them,” said Bartz. ” I believe that Caliva will be the first true large scale consumer product company in the U.S. cannabis industry.”

Bartz told Forbes that she was not blindly jumping on the cannabis investment bandwagon.

“This is not an investment in the broad industry–this is an investment in a very good company in a very big industry,” Bartz said.

Bartz plans to work with the marketing department at Caliva to determine ways to counteract the stigma still attached to cannabis and attract “cannabis curious” consumers.

“Not everybody wants to go into a dispensary, but they’d like to try the products,” Bartz said. “We really need to go from word of mouth to real consumer marketing around the wellness products.”

Dennis O’Malley, the CEO of Caliva, said the new funding will be used to develop new products including a new line of cannabis-infused beverages. The company also plans to expand into five new California markets and invest in customer education.

“We’re building a brand that people will look to as a trusted company in terms of our business practices and what our company stands for,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley said the company will serve both the recreational and medicinal cannabis consumers.

“We’re known for products that are fun for you,” said O’Malley. “We’re extending that as well as releasing a product category for pain relief, sleep and anxiety.”

O’Malley told Bloomberg that he had high hopes for Caliva.

“What we’re trying to do is be the No. 1 brand in California,” O’Malley said. “We believe this is where global brands are made.”

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