This L.A. cannabis startup blew $164 million in less than two years

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"Not one person at the top knew what they were doing," one former employee told dot.LA.

A new series from dot.LA is chronicling the demise of the cannabis-focused startup Genius Fund. 

The company was financed by Russian oligarch Dmitry Borisovich Bosov, who invested roughly $164 million. The venture was run by two twenty-somethings, Ari Stiegler and Gabriel Borden.

The structure of the business included more than 50 corporate entities, including THC and CBD manufacturing processes, and employed more than 300 people. Stiegler and Borden had aspirations of building a cannabis empire in California, the world’s largest legal cannabis market.

But, as dot.LA reports, the company was beset with poor financial decisions, such as five-figure bar tabs, a lack of general business experience, and a toxic culture, former employees say, which included sexist and demeaning comments from Stiegler. Stiegler has denied those characterizations.

In less than two years, the company had blown through its funding, leading to a lawsuit from a former senior employee. Weeks after the lawsuit was filed, Bosov was found dead at his home in Moscow.

“Not one person at the top knew what they were doing,” one former employee told dot.LA.

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