Icons gotta be iconic.
Over a three-decade celebrity career, Snoop Dogg has proven time and again that he is a man for the moment. Whether it’s topping the charts, hosting dinner with Martha Stewart, or co-headlining the Super Bowl, his show business trajectory has demonstrated a genius knack for keeping with the times, however wacky they may be.
In investment, it seems the same ability applies. At the peak of last year’s startup and IPO bull run, we reported effusively on Snoop’s portfolio. At the time, Klarna and Robinhood were two of the buzziest names in fintech, and Snoop (AKA Calvin Broadus) had stakes in both. Other holdings included Reddit, cannabis delivery provider Eaze, and even an up-and-coming maker of vegan pork rinds named Outstanding Foods. It was the sort of portfolio mix—kinda crazy and kinda brilliant—of which great returns are made.
Search less. Close more.
Grow your revenue with all-in-one prospecting solutions powered by the leader in private-company data.
But times change, and often quickly. And while being a man of the moment in 2021 meant raking in big paper gains on buzzy deals, 2022 is all about losing money on those same investments.
Then and now
Sixteen months after our original glowing critique of the Snoop portfolio, things are looking down. Shares of Robinhood, which went public last July, have fallen around 90% from their peak. Klarna just cut its valuation to $6.7 billion—down from $46 billion last year. And Eaze has shifted from fast growth-mode to cutting staff.
Now, Snoop invested in most portfolio companies at below peak valuations, so he’s not seeing the biggest losses. Not all of his startup stakes even required an upfront investment.
In the case of Klarna, for instance, Snoop inked an agreement with the buy now, pay later platform to star in a promotional campaign in exchange for shares. This culminated in a series of shorts also featuring afghan hounds, enormous bejeweled bling and an exceedingly long piece of toast. Today, even if the fintech unicorn is only a $6.7 billion company, it still looks like a pretty good return on labor.
Getting in at early stage also helps ease the pain of post-IPO declines. It was way back in 2014, for instance, that Snoop was a Series A backer in Robinhood, when it was valued far below even current levels.
Then there’s cannabis. Snoop has long cultivated a public image as a devoted marijuana consumer, which he has parlayed into the investment realm. The famously chill rapper was an early entrant in the legal cannabis space, backing companies out of his fund, Casa Verde Capital, which holds stakes in dispensary operating platform Dutchie, cannabis recruiting platform Vangst, and Eaze, among 33 known investments to date.
While a penchant for pot hasn’t dented Snoop’s celebrity brand, cannabis has been a poorly performing investment of late. Broadly, the legal cannabis space is grappling with a protracted downturn, as public companies see shares plunge and budget-conscious consumers eschew dispensaries in favor of cheaper black market options. Oregon-based Dutchie, one of the more heavily funded startups in the cannabis space, joined the layoff list last month, cutting about 8% of staff.
When life hands you limes …
So, overall, it looks kind of bleak out there. It’s enough to make a certain kind of investor despair. Another, however, might have a bigger appetite for deals amid a downturn.
In the case of Snoop and Casa Verde Capital, that appetite seems to translate into actual food. The firm’s last U.S. investment—disclosed early this year—was a seed round for TSUMo Snacks, a maker of cannabis-infused tortilla chips that seems intent on plowing ahead with the disruptive premise of combining pot and salty snack food into a single consumable product.
The moral here is pretty straightforward: When life hands you limes, one way to cope is to make lime-flavored cannabis chips (alongside ranch and cheese varieties). It probably won’t deliver the kinds of returns to make up for other valuation cuts across the portfolio. But perhaps the real goal is to be too satiated to care.
Photo: Snoop Dogg speaks onstage during day one of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 at Pier 70 on September 21, 2015 in San Francisco. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch; used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)
Blogroll image: Li-Anne Dias
Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.