Tag: social media

MassRoots Board Ousts CEO

Cannabis social media platform MassRoots ousted its CEO Isaac Dietrich from his role in the company on Monday in a vote by the Denver-based company’s Board of Directors.

The development, first reported by Debra Borchardt of the Green Market Report, comes on the heels of MassRoots agreement to acquire cannabis tech company CannaRegs, which tracks changes in cannabis regulations and taxation at the municipal, state, and federal levels.

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Under Dietrich’s direction, MassRoots bought the company for $12 million in stock—a decision that may have ultimately led to his demise. Borchardt wrote:

Some members of the company’s board (and supposedly including Kveton)  had been unhappy with Dietrich’s decision to acquire CannaRegs for $12 million. Several in the cannabis industry complained that the price was too high for the company even though private investors had been willing to pay $10 million for CannaRegs and the company had no debt and was bringing in $500,000 a year in revenues.

Scott Kveton has been named the company’s new CEO, Borchardt reports. The company has yet to make any public statements about the news. Leafly reached a MassRoots representative this afternoon, who confirmed Dietrich’s ouster but declined to speak on the record.

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The last 12 months for MassRoots have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the company. In late May, news reports swirled that the company needed $5 million dollars to stay afloat. At the end of the first quarter, on March 31, the company posted total revenue of $134,721, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The net loss for the same period was $7,447,177.

At the time, Dietrich told Leafly that his company had been making “significant investments” to the company’s technical infrastructures to improve the value of the company’s public stock, which is traded on over-the-counter markets.

Over the weekend, MassRoots stock rose to around $0.44 cents a share. On Monday it plunged over 23%, down to $0.33 cents per share.

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The Rise of ‘Canna-Vlogging’: What to Expect When Creating Cannabis Video Social Media

Thanks to the democratization of video technology and ever-increasing accessibility to video content across virtually every relevant platform, video-based media is now the new normal in today’s social media landscape. Subsequently, the growing permanence of cannabis culture has afforded those interested in utilizing video-based media a megaphone to share ideas and experiences related to this burgeoning culture. Influencers who once fought to support their pro-cannabis lifestyles through social media platforms are now able to do so with much less pushback. The result? An influx of cannabis-related video content and a hungry community of likeminded consumers to support it.

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Yet, the fight is far from over for people who want to start crafting their own cannabis-themed video content. They still face an uphill battle to receive the same benefits of social media success as their peers in other genres. Learn more about how cannabis video content has permeated social media, plus glean some takeaways for those interested in exploring cannabis vlogging.

Strict, Yet Vague, Content Guidelines

Perhaps the largest setback to creators within the cannabis genre has (and still remains) stringent yet often overtly ambiguous content guidelines. These restrictions stifle creativity and prohibit information about cannabis and the future surrounding it. Entire social media platforms have been known to discriminate against cannabis-based content on the grounds that they violate user agreements and content rules established by the sites’ administrators.

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For creatives aiming to share cannabis-related content, these restrictions have become the greatest setback. Nevertheless, through perseverance, social media influencers have emerged to share their voice and, despite opposition, have persevered in growing the community to what is is today.

An important distinguisher in the emergence of the cannabis genre in video-based social media culture has been YouTube. This platform has been the epicenter of video-based content since its inception, and YouTube continues to dominate the space in terms of user acquisition and engagement.

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YouTube has emerged as a uniquely important destination for cannabis-based content due to its (passive) acceptance of creators looking to explore this unique sector. Compared to its competitors, YouTube has had a history of being notoriously soft on restricting cannabis-related content, offering creators a safer space to share their videos without fear of takedowns or other forms of censorship.

…that is, until recently.

One major aspect that separated YouTube from other video-based social media platforms has been its incentive program for creators to earn revenue though advertising. Otherwise known as AdSense, this program allows creators to collect a share of the advertising revenue that their content generates.

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A caveat to this program, one that hadn’t affected cannabis content creators until earlier this year, is that the programming must prove to be “advertiser friendly” in order to qualify for AdSense revenue sharing. Due to a series of issues involving ads playing on highly controversial (non-cannabis-related) content, YouTube has since altered not only its policy towards which content qualifies as advertiser-friendly, it’s also modified its algorithms to make this type of content much harder to search for and view. Cannabis content did not make that cut, and revenue sharing for this community has all but been lost because of this change.

Diversity in Cannabis-Related Content

Despite the fiscally devastating impact of the recent AdSense policy changes, creatives continue to persevere by sharing their cannabis-related content. Today, a vastly diverse array of cannabis-themed video creators have succeeded in amassing an impressive community of fans and enthusiasts. Their accomplishments, though shadowed by an inability to share in the financial spoils deserved to them, have not been lost on the millions of engaged fans who continue to watch, like, and share.

Here’s a look at a few accomplished influencers who have pioneered cannabis video-based content and paved the way for others to follow in their paths.

CustomGrow420

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Joel, or “Jolie Olie,” as he has coined on his wildly popular YouTube channel, has amassed a following exceeding 1.4 million subscribers, making his channel arguably the most popular cannabis-themed program on YouTube to date. Since 2013 he has been cranking out weekly content ranging from smoke sessions to product reviews and event excursions.

StrainCentral

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Cannabis strain reviews and educational content is the name of the game for Josh from StrainCentral. His efforts to push this sub-genre forward have succeeded profoundly, and his content is among the highest quality out there. Today , you can see StrainCentral in every corner of the cannabis space. From frequent postings on his main channel to collaborations with other creatives, Josh continues to inspire cannabis education in as many ways possible.

Crutch420

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A true influencer in the cannabis space, Joe Kid has revolutionized long-format videos with his newly renovated YouTube talk show filmed out of his home in Colorado. Perhaps one of the most engaging and polished productions available, his show has gained him a popularity to be reckoned with. Tune in weekly as he and his fiancée traverse the cannabis landscape with a self-produced show that covers everything from reviews to interviews and more.

SilencedHippie

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Based out of Rhode Island, canna-vlogger Sasha (also known as “SilencedHippie“) has made waves in cannabis-related video content. One of the earlier self-described “stoner-vloggers,” her channel has pushed the vlog concept to new heights. Today, Sasha is among the most recognized social media influencers in the cannabis space, where you can find her educating and engaging fans all over the country.

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How to Start Your Own Canna-Vlog

If you’re interested in creating your own cannabis-themed content, there are many ways you can get started. Here are a few tried and true sub-genres to look into if you need a little inspiration on where to begin.

Video Diaries

Chronicling your daily musings or thoughts may be the easiest place to start if you’re new to filming your cannabis lifestyle. Just turn on the camera and organically create, allowing others a window into your life’s adventures. There’s no wrong way to vlog; simply getting out there and pressing record is all you’ll need to get started. This can be anything from smoking with friends to hanging out and sharing your views and opinions on cannabis culture.

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Grow Journals

For those cultivating their own cannabis, whether at home or as an occupation, grow journalling is a terrific way to share experiences with engaging fans. This sub-genre has grown rapidly in popularity over the years, with influencers in this space amassing subscribers at incredible rates. Documenting a grow doesn’t necessarily require you to be a master grower, either—learning the ropes is a valuable element to capture for those who are looking to learn as well.

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Educational Content

If you find that you’re the kind of person who loves educating others about cannabis lifestyle and culture, producing educational content may just be for you. From performing strain or product reviews to providing tutorials, there’s no limit to the amount of content you can produce when focusing on teaching others about cannabis. Sharing knowledge is one of the most powerful tools an influencer can have in this space.

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These are just a few ideas to get you started on your path to creating quality cannabis-related video content. There are many ways you can take advantage of this growing medium, so pick an angle and give it a try. You never know what will resonate with an audience until you put yourself out there!

If you’re a fan of cannabis video content, share down below what you enjoy seeing the most and why. In the meantime, happy canna-vlogging!

Who’s Sabotaging This Cannabis Company’s Instagram Account?

On Saturday, online trolls who’d been quietly running a fake Instagram account in the name of the California-based cannabis company Kiva Confections suddenly began abusing people in comments and direct messages.

People were offended by the messages, ‘and rightfully so,’ said Kiva co-founder Kristi Knoblich.

“At least cancer doesn’t run in my family,” they wrote in one particularly offensive message, directed toward a user with a family member who died of cancer. They followed the note with a smiley face emoji.

These particular imposters were dedicated, setting up the ruse as a kind of sleeper cell. They kept the fake account private and spent months amassing followers. They cribbed copy and high-quality photos from Kiva’s website to make the account look official. As of last Saturday, when the harassment began, the fake account had more than 2,000 followers.

“It was just pretty dark and macabre,” Kiva co-founder Kristi Knoblich told Leafly in a phone interview yesterday. “It makes my blood boil to think about how somebody could, even under the cloak of acting as an imposter to try and hurt us, just be that insensitive to another human being. It just tears you up inside.”

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Fighting Back with Video

As the hateful comments and messages piled up, account followers became increasingly offended, and “rightfully so, because it was disgusting,” Knoblich said. It wasn’t long before another Instagram user, who happened to have over 90,000 followers, posted screenshots of the cancer-related taunt to their own page alongside a note condemning Kiva. That opened the floodgates to an onslaught of vitriol directed towards the company—and alerted Kiva officials to the existence of the fake account.

Kiva co-founder Knoblich: Help us shut down the troll.

As soon as she found out what was going on, Knoblich posted a video to the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages making it clear that the account was fake. She apologized for the troll’s hurtful comments, and asked users to help get the imposter account removed by reporting the abuse to Instagram. Following the release of the video, a number of people appeared to have unfollowed the imposter account.

As of Tuesday morning, though, the fake Kiva account was still up and running—which is especially ironic considering that Kiva’s actual Instagram account has been shut down by the social media site a total of eight times.

“I don’t have a good understanding of what the algorithms are and what they’re scanning for, so it could be that we’re just constantly getting hit by the same troll reporting our account,” Knoblich told Leafly. “But within a few months or even days of us starting a new page with the name Kiva in it, it’s flagged for removal and taken down.”

Knoblich says Kiva lost nearly 60,000 followers as a result, and that for more than a year they were unable to get more than a one-line email from Instagram saying Kiva had violated the site’s terms of service in response to inquiries about their account.

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The Mysterious Rules of Social Media

Strangely, Kiva hasn’t had the same sort of trouble on other social media sites like Twitter or Facebook (which bought Instagram in 2012)—though dozens of other legal cannabis companies have a history of seeing their Facebook accounts banned, too. Facebook’s community standards specifically prohibit content that promotes marijuana sales, even in states where it’s legal.

Fake. Fake. Fake.

Many legal cannabis business owners have complained that on both Facebook and Instagram, the rules are vague and seem to be enforced in a patchwork fashion, creating an uneven playing field among competitors in the same industry.

“What’s so interesting is that you’ll see posts from other companies or users and it’s naked women and paraphernalia and guns and cash,” Knoblich said. “But all the posts we had on our real page were about education. Things like how to keep edibles away from kids, how to store and lock your edibles, pointers and tips for how to use safely. The nature of what we were posting didn’t have anything to do with promoting sales, illegal use, shipping or distribution.”

Instagram Responds, Kind of

After trying for months to get in touch with an Instagram representative, Kiva finally recently received an email that included a more detailed policy around cannabis. The language doesn’t appear to be included in either Instagram’s official community guidelines or terms of service, so it seems the policy hasn’t been made public.

Here is that statement in full:

Instagram does not allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. This is primarily because most federal laws, including those of the United States, treat marijuana as either an illegal substance or highly regulated good. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. We do however allow marijuana advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug. Dispensaries can promote the use and federal legalization of marijuana provided that they do not also promote its sale or provide contact information to their store.

Now that those terms are more clearly laid out, Knoblich is tentatively hopeful that Kiva might eventually be able to get its original account back. She also hopes Instagram might find a way to crack down on imposter accounts like the one that drew ire from the community while posing as Kiva on Saturday.

Instagram’s official policy states that “It’s not currently possible to request or purchase a verified badge,” and that “right now, only some public figures, celebrities and brands have verified badges.” As a result, it’s incredibly easy to create convincing fake accounts—especially when a brand’s real account has been shut down.

“It would be really nice to see some sort of verification feature,” Knoblich says. “I don’t know what the solution is, but there’s got to be a better way than what’s currently happening.”

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Meet the Cutest #DogsofCannabis on the Internet

You’ve heard of winery dogs—but did you know about #dogsofcannabis? First used by one bobby_bongs a couple of years ago, the tag has garnered less than 100 posts to date on Instagram—but the ones it has accumulated feature the cutest pups ever.

Honestly, we can’t quite tell how all these dogs connect to cannabis: some seem to be CBD pup patients, others live at cannabis farms, a few may simply be owned by cannabis consumers, and some seem to have no connection to cannabis whatsoever. Either way, we’re loving this niche hashtag. Check out some of the adorable pups we tracked down on Instagram living the canna-life.

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#dogsofcannabis

A post shared by Andi (@effysax) on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:36am PDT

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Editor’s note: While CBD can benefit dogs and cats with certain medical conditions, never allow your pet to consume your cannabis—THC can make them extremely sick. Here’s what to do if it happens on accident.

What Is Influencer Marketing and How Can It Help Cannabis Businesses?

Leafly is the first ever cannabis company to sponsor SXSW, and as we gear up for this year’s festival, we decided to take a look at one of the most crucial pieces of any successful brand: influencer marketing. With cannabis restricted by the federal government, many standard marketing platforms are off-limits. Because traditional marketing efforts off the table, cannabis brands have to be incredibly creative to ensure their campaigns are successful.

We spoke with Dominick Damico, the founder of Adspire, the world’s fastest growing influencer marketing agency dedicated to cannabis, to see how cannabis businesses can make the most of their brand by using outside influencers to boost their audience and maximize their marketing impact.

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Leafly: What is influencer marketing?

Dominick Damico: Influencer marketing is the usage of people and platforms to drive a brand’s message to a target market. The influencer can be a person, a website, or a social media page. Essentially, any person or platform that has influence over an audience can be considered an influencer.

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What are some examples of different types of influencers?

  • Niched: These influencers are typically devoted to a specific market or subject (ex. Cannabis / beauty / sports / etc.)
  • Celebrity: These influencers are traditional celebrity types (artists, athletes, entertainers)
  • Social: These influencers found their fame through social media platforms
  • Micro: These influencers have a small amount of influence, but they can be useful when brands are looking to activate many niches at once
  • Localized: These influencers and their content are typically localized (ex. “Seattle Stoners”)

Influencers can fall under more than one of the categories above. For example, there are localized-micro influencers, and there are social-niched influencers.

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What are some of the challenges of achieving impact through influencer marketing?

The number of followers does not necessarily equal impact. Bigger is not always better. Many brands make the mistake of judging the value of an influencer based on how much influence they possess. Engagement rate is the holy grail of measuring influencer value. This is because a 100k influencer with a 50% engagement rate gets five times more action than a 1 million influencer with a 1% engagement rate. I’ve seen pages with millions of followers that get less engagement than pages 1/10th their size.

Your content and ads will not do well just because they’re going out to a lot of people. There is a misconception that influencers have the magical allure of getting their fans to do what they want. Just because you post your products, content, and ads on influencer platforms in the same industry, doesn’t mean you will get results. They need to be aligned with your content style, focused on value-add, and consist of a well thought out advertisement or post. It’s no different than any other advertising methods. Bad ads and content will always perform badly.

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When do you think paid digital marketing channels may be available to cannabis brands? What about print/traditional marketing?

Hard to say. I’d imagine even if Google, Facebook, etc. does want to get on board, their legal team will give them the thumbs down due to the current federal standing of cannabis. I would guess 3-6 years for USA advertising only, or whenever cannabis is no longer a federally illicit substance in America. As for the rest of the world, I have no clue.

I do believe that print advertising at a local level is easier to access. This is because local print works within the jurisdiction of state lines, where cannabis is legal. It’s different for these digital companies that have an international presence and have much more pressure to abide by federal law compared to the local print companies complying within their jurisdictions.

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Do you have any tips to run a successful influencer marketing campaign?

  • Keep up with social rules and algorithms: Social media platforms are always changing the rules of the game. Companies that don’t stay nimble and up to date on the latest rules can miss out on changes required to maximize success.
  • Keep up with the latest marketing trends: Take some time out of each day to go through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and platforms of interest. This will help you recognize what is working well for other pages and companies. It helps you to identify successful and unsuccessful marketing strategies without having to spend your own money to find out.
  • Follow page patterns: If an account only does direct photo posts, try to format your marketing campaign so that specific influencer drives your goal with a direct photo post.
  • Be good to the influencers you work with: At the end of the day this is a relationships game. Everyone knows everyone and if you screw over an influencer, other influencers will find out about it and won’t want to work with your company. These influencers get plenty of opportunity. At the end of the day, they are going to want to work with people they like who treat them fairly.
  • If you aren’t sure how to do all of this, outsource it to Adspire: I’ve watched new companies waste thousands of dollars on influencers and campaigns that absolutely bombed due to their lack of expertise. We’ve got the knowledge and experience to make your influencer marketing campaign a success.

You can hear more about influencer marketing at the SXSW Conference. Leafly will be sponsoring a three-part track of cannabis programming, including one keynote speaker and two panels, on March 14, 2017.

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10 Cannabis Instagram Accounts to Follow in 2017

If you’ve noticed a drop in the amount of cannabis-related content on your Instagram feed, it’s probably not just your imagination. The iconic social media site has recently shut down a number of cannabis based accounts in the past few years – even those produced in countries like Canada, where medical cannabis is federally legal.

Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of pages that are still active and updating as of February 2017. Join us on Instagram and restock your feed with images of top growers, beautiful glass art, and insightful information.

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1. Nugshotsnugshots-instagram

@Nugshots is all about professionally photographed buds, specializing in macro shots of flowers. This page takes incredibly high-quality images of different strains, allowing the viewer to compare different types of cannabis side by side.

2. Dankshire

dankshire-instagram

This one’s dedicated to all the dabbers out there! @Dankshire_ specializes in capturing concentrates in their most photogenic form. The page also shows off some amazing macro cannabis photography, and has absolutely radiant live plant shots.

3. Devils Lettuce Photography

You’ve seen the finished product, but how much time have you spent appreciating the whole plant? @Devilslettuceph is dedicated to showcasing the majesty of live cannabis, admiring the variety between individual plants, and cultivating interest in its medicinal value.

4. Karl Kronic

instagram@Karl_Kronic’s page is full of some of the most captivating images of cannabis on the internet. Each photo in the series is truly a work of art on its own. Featuring gorgeous side by side comparisons of purple and green flowers, plenty of sticky trichome action, and joints covered in honey oil  and kief that will make you want to take up aesthetic rolling.

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5. Heady Hawaii

heady-hawaii-instagram

Producing some of the most unique and vibrant glass on the market, @HeadyHawaii is guaranteed to drop your jaw daily. Almost all pieces are for sale, though most, like this gorgeous glass sculpture, look like they belong in a museum.

6. The National Joint League

the-national-joint-league-instagram

The National Joint League: Brought to you by the cannabis enthusiasts who really paid attention in art class. @TheNationalJointLeague is a competition which encourages users to submit their home made, smokeable sculptures. Followers of the page are able to vote on their favorite joints in this elimination style game.

7. Illadelph Glass

illadelph-glass-instagram

@Illadelphglass specializes in one thing: Crafting glass that looks like it’s meant to be smoked inside of a laboratory. Whether you’re into glow in the dark bongs or psychedelic Sherlock Holmes pipes, these meticulously made pieces are sure to find their way onto your wishlist!

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8. Academy of Cannabis Science

academy-of-science-instagram

Get to know your favorite plant a little better with @AcademyofCannabisScience. Here you’ll find facts about cannabis, amazing microscopic images, and profound quotes from some of the most well-respected minds of our time. Whether you grow, sell, or just appreciate the plant, this page is a surefire way to boost your cannabis trivia knowledge.

9. Mothership Glass

mothership-glass-instagram

For dab rigs and glass that are a head and shoulder above the rest, look no further than Mothership Glass. @Mothership_glass specializes in variety-producing pieces to suit anyone’s taste. Whether you’re into space, steampunk, or just plain spectacular art, check these guys out and just try not to get lost in the details.

10. The High Circle

the-high-circle-instagram

Want to learn how to identify quality bud? Then look no further than @Thehighcircle. This page is filled stunning shots of live cannabis plants, expertly rolled joints, and top shelf nugs that will make your mouth water.

That’s a wrap! Enjoy getting reacquainted with the cannabis community by exploring your newly expanded Instagram account!

MassRoots Note Default Raises Questions About Company’s Future

Is MassRoots in a temporary cash-flow pinch, or is the company in deeper trouble?

The CEO of the cannabis-focused social network told investors yesterday that the company is “in a stronger position than ever,” but a number of recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings have raised questions about financial situation of the Denver-based company.

As first reported Tuesday morning in Business Den, the Denver business news website, MassRoots notified the SEC on Sept. 21 that the company had defaulted on a $1.5 million promissory note. When the six-month convertible note, issued in March, came due Sept. 14, the company was unable to make the required payments, it said.

A promissory note is a simple type of loan sometimes used by companies to bridge a temporary financial shortfall. Investor A gives money to Company B, and Company B agrees to repay the money by a specified date. It’s a legally binding IOU, essentially.

MassRoots has raised more than $5 million in capital investments since 2013, and made headlines as “The First Weed Tech IPO” when it went public at $7 per share in April 2015. The company’s stock currently trades on the over-the-counter market at around 50 cents per share under the ticker MSRT. In April of this year, the company applied to become the first cannabis-related stock listed on the NASDAQ. The exchange ultimately rejected that request.

Yesterday, five days after notifying the SEC about the note default, MassRoots Chairman and CEO Isaac Dietrich issued a letter to the company’s investors. Dietrich gave an upbeat overview of the company’s financials, and reported excellent second quarter results: “we generated more revenue in a single quarter than in all previous quarters combined.” Since July, Dietrich wrote, MassRoots has eliminated 14 of its 33 full-time employees and cut $146,000 in monthly expenses. The company recently partnered with the cannabis business intelligence firm Headset to develop business data products.

An earnings report filed by MassRoots earlier this year disclosed that $320,000 in advertising contracts were signed during the first quarter of 2016, the Business Den report noted.

Dietrich’s letter issued Monday made no mention of the promissory note default. The CEO assured investors that “MassRoots is in a stronger position than ever while the 2016 elections have the potential to significantly accelerate the growth of the cannabis market.”

Leafly reached out to MassRoots earlier today for reaction to the recent SEC filings. The company’s spokesperson declined to comment.