Snoop Dogg, the rapper, entertainer and businessman, can claim another small victory in a long string of career highlights. The venture firm that he co-founded a couple of years ago, Casa Verde Capital, has closed its debut fund with $45 million.
The money was raised in earnest last year, says managing partner Karan Wadhera, an alum of both Goldman Sachs and Nomura Securities who joined the outfit in the summer of 2016 to take over the process of securing capital — as well as investing it along with fellow managing director Evan Eneman.
We talked with Wadhera to get a better handle on the firm, which makes seed and Series A bets on ancillary businesses in the cannabis industry. Our chat has been edited for length.
TC: You have what seems like a pretty traditional banking background. How did you wind up at Snoop Dogg’s venture firm?
KW: I did have a traditional path, joining Goldman out of school and working in San Francisco, Hong Kong and later India for 11 years, where I ran trading desks [for numerous investment firms]. But I’m also an avid musician and fan. In college [at Babson in Wellesley, Ma.], I worked on a site and radio show about U2 that kind of got me connected to U2’s management and label and I soon started coming out to L.A. as a consultant working on projects for artists and labels. And Snoop was one of the first people I started working with. I was helping out on the new media side and helping a small team of people sort of run the Snoop show — not just his label but his clothing line, film, TV projects…
TC: That sounds very entrepreneurial for a college student. Did you head to Goldman to make your family happy?
KW: Exactly. [Laughs.] But that career path did take me around the world, which was super exciting. In India, too, I was able to dig into some of those interests. I helped start the sort of Us Weekly of India called Miss Malini. I kept on doing entertainment stuff. In 2008, I helped put Snoop in a big Bollywood movie. So we kept our relationship going.
TC: Then you moved to L.A. to run this fund.
KW: When I left the institutional finance world, I knew I wanted to focus more on the private end of things. And as I started to dig in and understand the work that Snoop and [firm partner Ted Chung] and Evan — who I’ve known for 20 years — were laying out for the cannabis industry, I realized it was a huge white space and that not enough people were focusing on it. Of course, that’s changing.
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