Bruce Linton is fired from Canopy Growth, company clings onto Acreage deal

Linton claims that he was terminated from his role at Canopy Growth - the company he co-founded back in 2013

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The world’s largest cannabis company has abolished Bruce Linton; Canopy Growth’s very own co-founder and Co-CEO. Constellation Brands, which currently owns a 40 percent chunk of the cannabis company, was behind the decision.

Responsible for producing some of the most iconic beer, spirits and wine brands in the world, Constellation’s choice to let go of Linton has been attributed to Canopy’s disappointing sales figures last year.

“Canopy Growth Corporation and Bruce Linton announced that Bruce will step down as Co-CEO and Canopy Board member. Mark Zekulin has agreed to become the sole CEO of the company and will work with the Board to begin a search to identify a new leader to guide the company in its next phase of growth, which will include both internal and external candidates. Rade Kovacevic, a long-serving member of the team currently leading all Canadian operations and recreational strategy will assume the role of President. These changes are effective immediately,” read a company press release published at the start of the month.

Despite the statement released by CGC, Linton doesn’t seem to agree with the wording of Canopy’s press release. He says that the decision was made abruptly and that he was ousted due to a decision made by Constellation, which has four seats on Canopy’s board of directors.

“I think stepping down might not be the right phrase. . . I was terminated,” said Linton, who co-founded the company in 2013. “Creating Canopy Growth began with an abandoned chocolate factory and a vision. The board decided today, and I agreed, my turn is over.”

Bruce Linton grew Canopy to its current $14 billion market cap

From its humble beginnings to its existing $14 billion market cap, Canopy Growth has experienced rapid success since its inception six years ago. Linton played a significant role in the metamorphosis of the cannabis company, where the number of employees has swelled from five to more than 3,000.

“It’s hurtful to be ejected from the thing you created,” Linton divulged during a phone interview with MarketWatch. “The part that’s disappointing to me is to be out of the company but this is not the first time I’ve been fired as a founder. It’s an evolution I didn’t welcome.”

The dismissal has been swift, with Linton already having been eliminated from Canopy Rivers; Canopy Growth’s venture capital investment and operating platform. Linton’s former partner and Co-CEO Mark Zekulin will now lead the company as an independent CEO.

Cannabis company’s former Co-CEO says he has “full confidence in the team at Canopy”

(Pictured) Mark Zekulin will now assume the role of Canopy’s CEO

Following a colossal investment from beverage giant Constellation Brands in August of last year, Canopy Growth’s market capitalization skyrocketed. The $4 billion investment will surely pay off for the cannabis company, but not for Bruce Linton. 

Canopy’s former Co-CEO might have still been working at the company he co-founded in 2013 had Constellation not swooped in and bought a 40 percent stake in the company. This means that his shareholders essentially had more control than him. 

Furthermore, a deal that was contingent on U.S. market legalization involving Canopy buying Acreage Holdings for $3.4 billion seems to have left shareholders feeling impatient. Plus, last month’s poor earnings report Canopy reported C$323 million in losses for Q4 2018has likely prompted shareholders to get rid of Linton.

“While change is never easy, I have full confidence in the team at Canopy – from Mark and Rade’s leadership to the full suite of leadership – as we progress through this transition and into the future,” Linton said in a statement.

His dismissal may be deemed unfair by many, but with a major investor like Constellation on-board, it was only a matter of time before Canopy was steered by the Fortune 500 company. If anything, Linton should be commended for transforming an old Hershey’s factory into the world’s biggest publicly-traded cannabis company by market cap. Well done, Brucey.