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HubSpot Legal Chief Takes New Role at Cannabis Fintech Dutchie

Sept. 27, 2022, 5:31 PM

Dutchie LLC, a cannabis industry payment services provider backed by high-powered investors, has hired John Kelleher as its general counsel.

Kelleher comes to Dutchie after more than a decade as legal chief for HubSpot Inc., a sales software company he joined in 2012 and helped take public two years later. Kelleher left Cambridge, Mass.-based HubSpot as of Sept. 6 but will assist in the search for his successor, according to a securities filing.

Dutchie was valued at $3.75 billion last year after completing a $350 million Series D fundraising. The Bend, Ore.-based company’s backers include asset management giant Tiger Global Management LLC and Casa Verde Capital LLC, a cannabis investment firm co-founded by the rapper Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus Jr.

VIDEO: How Marijuana Is Both Legal and Illegal in the US

Cannabis is legal for both recreational and medicinal use in Canada and a growing number of US states. It has not been legalized at the federal level in the US and is among the more highly regulated substances in North America.

Dutchie’s legal, government affairs, and compliance teams work closely together to navigate issues like traceability, taxes, and purchase limits, Kelleher said.

“It’s core, it’s critical to the company,” said Kelleher of helping customers “meet their compliance obligations” across a shifting regulatory landscape.

Kelleher, 57, said a confluence of factors drew him to privately held Dutchie, including that he’ll be able to work remotely from his home in the Boston area.

John Kelleher

He joined Dutchie, despite having no experience—either personally or professionally—in the legal weed space, Kelleher said. He spoke with family members using cannabis to offset the side effects of chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

“There’s a mission-driven aspect that I love,” said Kelleher about his new job.

Making Connections

At HubSpot, Kelleher earned more than $2.7 million in total compensation last year, per the company’s most recent proxy statement. He currently owns roughly $16 million in HubSpot stock, according to Bloomberg data.

He previously spent nearly nine years as general counsel for Endeca Technologies Inc., a software company sold for $1.1 billion in 2011 to Oracle Corp. The close-knit technology scene in Boston—Kelleher jokingly called it “incestuous”—saw Endeca’s co-founders start Toast Inc., a restaurant software startup whose former chief business officer, Tim Barash, is now executive chairman at Dutchie.

Kelleher connected with Barash, whose brother, attorney Bryan Barash, now serves as Dutchie’s head of public policy, strategy, and compliance, as well as Ross Lipson, Dutchie’s co-founder and chief executive.

The executives told Kelleher that Dutchie is committed to social justice and a pure play technology company that isn’t “plant touching,” he said, instead providing the e-commerce infrastructure for cannabis dispensaries to sell and deliver their products.

“We make the tools so they can safely and legally sell cannabis in a compliant way,” Kelleher said.

Kelleher succeeds Dutchie’s first-ever general counsel, former Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz associate Lauren Thomas. She left the company in January to take the top legal job at online marketplace Faire Wholesale Inc.

Goodwin Procter advised Dutchie on its most recent Series D fundraising round in October 2021. Kelleher said Goodwin, whom he previously worked with at Endeca and HubSpot, does most of Dutchie’s corporate work. Boston-based Goodwin partners Gregg Katz and Joseph Theis Jr., both of whom are part of the firm’s technology practice, spoke with Kelleher before he moved to Dutchie, he said.

“It’s great to have that built-relationship and connection with outside counsel,” Kelleher said. Other law firms representing Dutchie include Perkins Coie and Vierra Magen Marcus, a Daly City, Calif.-based intellectual property boutique.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com