We get a lot of weed-related pitches at TechCrunch, but most of them don't come with the pedigree of Herb's investors.
Herb is announcing today that it has raised $4.1 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with participation from Slow Ventures, Buddy Media co-founder Michael Lazerow, Bullpen Capital, Shiva Rajarama, Liquid 2 Ventures (the firm led by football legend Joe Montana), Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein and Adam Zeplain.
"During our research into the cannabis industry, it became clear to both myself and our team at Liquid 2 Ventures that HERB was the most professionally run business for relevant, informative, cannabis content,” Montana said in the funding announcement.
Herb's articles and videos cover the latest cannabis-related news, with plenty of how-to and educational content. The site started as something called The Stoner's Cookbook before it was acquired and rebranded by Gray in 2015. Since then, the company has grown to 200 million video views per month, reaching 5.3 million unique viewers, according to Tubular Labs.
And while Herb currently looks like a digital media business, Gray said, "We don't see ourselves as just a website. We were always setting out to build a technology platform."
Eventually, he wants Herb to become a site that you can visit for "everything cannabis-related," including buying weed from local businesses and getting it delivered to your home in just a few minutes.
Gray compared the company to Uber and Airbnb, both in the sense that they're an intermediary between consumers and service providers, and because they've had to fight some big legal battles along the way. He said Herb will respect local laws around cannabis sales, but at the same time, "I think these laws are changing — it’s about time. And as they change, Herb wants to be right there."
To be clear, Herb is still a ways off from launching a marketplace business, but Gray said the site is adding new features that bring it closer to that goal, like creating detailed profiles of local dispensaries.
"There’s a very real stigma that exists around cannabis today and our viewpoint on things here at Herb is that yesterday’s social stigmas become tomorrow's social norms," he added. "We’re trying to present the best face that we can for this industry and bring cannabis into the mainstream."