Emerald Enters Cannabis Industry with Acquisition of Event and Content Platform MJBiz
New York-based B2B event and media company Emerald Holding, Inc., acquired MJBiz, a leading event producer and content platform serving the large and rapidly growing cannabis industry, for more than $120 million.
According to Emerald officials, the addition of MJBiz further accelerates the company’s strategy of delivering year-round customer engagement, while also enhancing its portfolio optimization efforts by providing a preeminent platform to expand into one of the highest growth business sectors in North America.
“We have long admired MJBiz’s sterling reputation for being the most trusted event and content producer serving the business side of the cannabis and hemp industries and their respective participants,” said Hervé Sedky, president and CEO of Emerald, which organizes more than 150 events annually spanning the retail, design and construction, technology, equipment and safety sectors.
He continued, “MJBiz’s leading event and content portfolio coupled with their 365-day engagement platform, which connects the entire cannabis supply chain, will diversify our collective product offerings, enhance our growth profile and enable us to deliver even greater value to our customers over the long term.”
Founded in 2011, MJBiz produces MJBizCon, the oldest and leading B2B cannabis trade show in the U.S.; The Emerald Conference, a cannabis science event acquired by MJBiz in 2020; and related media brands, including MJBizDaily, Hemp Industry Daily and MJBiz Magazine.
As the largest gathering of cannabis business professionals in the world, MJBizCon brings together executives looking to enter the industry or expand their existing business, investors seeking potential opportunities in cannabis and dedicated industry professionals, to drive the industry forward. The show’s most recent edition, which took place Oct. 20-22, 2021 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, attracted more than 1,200 exhibiting companies and 27,000 attendees, rivaling pre-pandemic levels.
Coinciding with the rapidly growing industry it represents, MJBizCon has demonstrated robust growth since its inception, winning multiple TSNN Awards for Overall Fastest-Growing Show – Net Square Footage in 2021 and in previous years. Additionally, the show ranked No. 75 in 2019, No. 110 in 2018 and No. 164 in 2017 on the TSNN Top 250 U.S. Trade Shows list.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be joining such a well-respected events team,” said Jess Tyler, senior vice president, events and sales, MJBiz and MJBizCon. “MJBizCon has experienced tremendous growth with the cannabis industry over the past 10 years and we now have the opportunity to take the show, and the brand, to the next level with Emerald behind us.”
In addition to operating the leading cannabis industry trade show, the MJBiz brand is known as the leading source for actionable business intelligence in the cannabis industry. In 2021, MJBiz’s revenues were approximately $27 million, which were near pre-pandemic levels, and in the three years prior to the pandemic (2017-2019), the MJBiz platform delivered 38% compound annual revenue growth.
“Our organization has experienced massive growth since its inception, initially as a how-to resource to help dispensary owners run their businesses better, into our position today as the leading commercial resource for the cannabis sector,” explained Cassandra Farrington, co-founder and board chair of Denver-based MJBiz.
She continued, “Integrating with a larger organization provides the additional resources and channels to unlock the next phase of MJBiz’s growth and is the right next step in our evolution as a business. We chose Emerald because they clearly value the unique aspects of our brand and are committed to serving the industry’s expansion.”
Emerald paid $120 million as initial consideration upon closing of the transaction, with potential future payments contingent on MJBiz’s performance through 2022.
MJBiz management, including CEO Chris Walsh, Senior Vice President of Events and Sales Jess Tyler and Senior Vice President of Content and Audience Development Pam Moore, will continue to lead the day-to-day operations of the business.
MJBiz co-founders and board members, Farrington and Anne Holland, will continue to consult with the business.
MJBiz’s upcoming events in 2022 include The Emerald Conference, taking place Feb. 27-March 1 at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, Calif., and MJBizCon, set for Nov. 15-18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.