The United States is the world’s largest cannabis market, but as more European countries consider legalizing recreational use, investors are looking for opportunities in production, distribution and retail.

Much like the U.S., laws governing this plant-based drug differ across the EU, which means entrepreneurs must navigate complicated legal frameworks even as they compete with an enormous black market.

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But for those with a high tolerance for risk, starting up in a largely unregulated industry is an easy choice: Europeans spend an estimated €9 billion per year on illegal cannabis, and the market for unlicensed medical cannabis is predicted to reach €354 million in 2022.

For our latest investor survey, we contacted eight investors who are actively signing checks for cannabis tech companies and asked them to tell us what they’re looking for, how they measure success, and the best way founders can get their attention.

  • Todd Harrison, founding partner and CIO, CB1 Capital Management
  • Yoni Meyer, partner, Casa Verde Capital
  • Viken Douzdjian, managing partner and co-founder, Argonautic Ventures
  • David Bonnier, founding partner, Enexis AB
  • Will Gibbs, principal, Octopus Ventures
  • Oliver Lamb, co-founder and investment manager, Óskare Capital
  • Leah Fletcher, founder and director, Arbutus Innovation Centre
  •, investor, Sanity Group

Thanks very much to Frederique Dame at GV and Glen Evans from Greylock for joining me yesterday at TechCrunch Early Stage in San Francisco.

I spoke to Frederique about the journey to finding product-market fit, and Glen and I discussed hiring top talent in a competitive environment. I’ll share a recap of both conversations on TechCrunch+ next week.

On Tuesday, April 26, at 2:30 PT/5:30 PT, I’m hosting a Twitter Space with Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley-based immigration law attorney who writes the weekly “Dear Sophie” column for TechCrunch+.

We’ll discuss recent developments in U.S. immigration law, H-1B visas and other issues that are relevant to the tech industry before taking audience questions, so I hope you’ll join us.

Thanks very much for reading, and have a fantastic weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+

How social commerce is bridging Southeast Asia’s infrastructure gaps

Stepping Stones bridging River

Image Credits: António Sousa / EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Southeast Asia is home to the world’s fastest growing e-commerce markets, but even as mobile and internet penetration in the region explodes, large portions of many countries’ rural areas are left grossly underserved.

Due to the varied landscape, in some rural towns, infrastructure is so fragmented and poor that basic necessities can cost three times as much as in urban areas.

One answer to this is social commerce, which leverages social media to let businesses liaise with local resellers to market and sell their products while also empowering smaller businesses and underserved communities, writes Amit Anand, founding partner at Jungle Ventures.

“Most social commerce platforms don’t require any upfront investment, and resellers can rely on startups’ supply chains, payments infrastructure and logistics networks. This lets them focus on leveraging the assets they do have: their social circles.”

Dear Sophie: I didn’t win the H-1B lottery. What are my next steps?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I earned my master’s degree in business analytics last year, and have been working for a company while on OPT since then.

My employer entered me in the H-1B lottery last month, but I haven’t been selected. I heard that my degree now qualifies as a STEM field, making me eligible to continue working under OPT.

How can I stay in the States?

— Astute Analyst

Is Elon Musk undervaluing Twitter in his unsolicited bid?

twitter pattern

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Elon Musk’s $43.4 billion offer to take Twitter private didn’t paint a target on a struggling company: the social media platform’s revenue on track to hit $6 billion in 2022.

That progress, taken together with the fact that its stock traded above $60 for most of 2021, might mean Musk’s $54.20 per share offer could disappoint many long-term shareholders, reported Alex Wilhelm.

“If you already owned Twitter stock, you believed in its growth story, else you would have left when the CEO chair turned over last year,” writes Alex.

“That means that Musk is effectively arguing that current Twitter shareholders are sad and want to cash out, not expecting to see 2021 prices for their company return anytime soon.”

Why EV startups should’ve hit the brakes before merging with a SPAC

Vibrant purple powder explosion

Image Credits: Jonathan Knowles (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

It’s clear why so many EV startups merged with special purpose acquisition companies: SPAC cash can be used to scale up operations and fund R&D, key considerations for electric vehicle companies.

But since their debuts, Nikola, Canoo, Lucid Motors, Lordstown Motors and Faraday Future have seen their valuations deflate like a punctured tire. Making matters worse, they’ve also drawn the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“When you fail to live up to your projections, you really get hammered,” said John Loehr, a managing director at consulting firm AlixPartners. “That’s when investors start filing lawsuits.”

Blue-chip NFT owners explore alternative uses as sales decline

Image of the physical artwork of "Bored Ape #2967" created by Bored Ape Yacht Club, left, and "Mutant Ape #1933" created by Mutant Ape Yacht Club, both available for sale as an NFT, displayed at a CoinUnited cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Image Credits: Paul Yeung / Bloomberg (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Blue-chip NFT projects like Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Azuki and Bored Ape Yacht Club are soaring in value, but the global sales volume for non-fungible tokens fell from $4.6 billion in January to $2.4 billion in March.

Many lesser-known projects have become stranded assets, but owners of high-value NFTs are borrowing against their tokens “to gain liquidity and, in turn, generate additional yield elsewhere or purchase more assets,” reports Jacquelyn Melinek.

“While overall NFT sales might be down, the top-tier projects still retain considerable value,” said Stephen Young, CEO of marketplace NFTfi.

“Found” receives Webby nomination for best technology podcast

Found, TechCrunch’s podcast where founders share the stories behind their startups, has been nominated for a Webby in the best technology podcast category.

Cast your vote before April 21 to help it win the People’s Voice Award!

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