SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Hip-hop's first billionaire is breaking into the cannabis industry and he's chosen a San Jose company to partner with, the CEO confirmed Tuesday.
"We are so excited," said Caliva CEO Dennis O'Malley. "Today we announced a long-term partnership with Shawn Carter, also known as Jay-Z."
The rapper, songwriter and entrepreneur will be the San Jose-based company's chief brand strategist.
O'Malley said he got a call from the rapper's team after they'd been searching for top cannabis companies to partner up with for several months.
"The first question was, 'How did you get a hold of us?'" he said. "When we started to understand the reason behind Jay-Z getting into the cannabis industry, what he believed in and his success in business, we really felt well aligned."
So what exactly is the hip-hop mogul going to do as a brand strategist? O'Malley said he hopes that the rapper will take the Caliva product to the next level, which he said means taking it nationwide.
"He believes in our vision in bringing plant-based solutions to people's everyday lives, to improve their everyday lives," he said.
In addition, Jay-Z plans to help those who've been improperly jailed for marijuana crimes and integrate them back into the economy. But O'Malley said he also believes that Jay-Z will help breakdown the stigma that continues to surround marijuana.
"I think he'll do something positive for sure," said Caliva customer Luis Hernandez. "Because for one, I actually just came here to get little CBD gummies for my brother-in-law because he suffers from seizures."
"We hope this relationship with Jay-Z does brings awareness to that," O'Malley said. "That this is a very viable safe and trusted way to be able to help your pain, sleep and anxiety and to live a better life."
O'Malley said the partnership with Jay-Z means he will likely make stops in San Jose.
He was able to meet the icon himself.
"As you would expect there was an aura about him in terms of how he carries himself, and he's extremely thoughtful," he said.
Earlier this year, NFL legend Joe Montana's venture capital firm took part in a $75 million investment in Caliva. Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is among the company's board of directors.
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