The founders of Green Market Report, a cannabis financial news website, weren’t actively trying to sell their company when the right opportunity came along at the right time.

“I was suffering from founder fatigue and was struggling with creating a steady flow of revenue,” said founder Debra Borchardt. “I didn’t have the money to invest in the company and was just running it hand-to-mouth.”

She and her two co-founders, Cynthia Salarizadeh and Vince Pitetti, had three to five freelancers contributing to the site, but Borchardt said she was exhausted from putting in long hours and needed additional help.

When Crain Communications, a Detroit-based business media company, contacted the founders with an offer to buy their website, they decided to take the deal.

Crain Communications acquired Green Market Report in October 2021 for an undisclosed price that worked out to 3x annual revenue.

Growing Green Market Report

Borchardt, Salarizadeh and Pitetti started Green Market Report in 2017 to change how the media reported on the cannabis industry.

“I wanted to write towards a sophisticated cannabis audience, and when I couldn’t find one that existed, I chose to create it,” Borchardt said in an interview with BudsFeed, a cannabis-focused online platform.

At the time, Borchardt was a freelance journalist covering the cannabis industry. She teamed up with Salarizadeh, a serial entrepreneur with a background in public relations, and Pitetti, who had created several websites for companies in the cannabis industry.

They bootstrapped their New-York based business and didn’t take on any debt while carrying out their mission of producing reliable, unbiased news, Borchardt told us.

Yet like many other independent news outlets, creating a consistent revenue stream was a challenge. The pandemic didn’t help things.

“We had really begun to build a revenue stream from events, and then when the pandemic hit, we had to do a hard pivot to digital ads,” Borchardt said.

Though the business had its share of highlights — like winning a Gold Stevie Award for website of the year in 2020 — Borchardt said she was excited to receive the offer from Crain Communications. The site was seeing about 50,000 pageviews/month at the time.

She told BudsFeed, “I would have to say that getting acquired by a storied, mainstream news organization was pretty fantastic.”

How Green Market Report sold to Crain Communications

Selling Green Market Report to Crain Communications was a relatively quick process that took four to six weeks. Borchardt told us her contract doesn’t allow her to disclose how much the company sold for but said it was a 3x multiple of annual revenue, which is about average for content sites.

“They offered a very reasonable price, and they looked to be good partners,” she said. “They wanted to grow the company and keep me on to do that.”

As part of the deal, Borchardt stayed on as executive editor while the other co-founders were bought out. She said the most difficult thing about the acquisition was staying on board without her former partners.

Borchardt has one key piece of advice for other founder groups looking to sell their businesses: Be clear about your desired exit with your partners.

“Some business partners want to build, sell and move on, while others want to build, sell and stay a part of the business,” she said. “ I think it is important to make [sure] these goals are made clear when creating the company. The excitement of building tends to drown out the conversation of what happens if the business doesn’t succeed or what happens if someone wants to sell.”