THE MARIJUANA START-UP Ebbu LLC held its 2015 Christmas party at a stylish townhouse in downtown Denver.
As guests arrived, they selected from edibles and vape pens fanned out on cocktail tables. Hired lovelies dressed for Burning Man twirled silently through the crowd. At one point, a man ran into the middle of the room and shouted, “Everybody in here get the fuck out!” — before security showed him the door. The most committed stoners colonized a windowless basement decorated with a pirate flag. It still felt like a work party, with significant others making small talk around a messy taco bar.
For more than two years, Ebbu has promised to unveil a revolutionary line of marijuana products called “Feelings” — Energy, Create, Chill, Giggle and Bliss. Marijuana’s flaw, the company believes, is that it’s unpredictable. Customers want to know how a product will make them feel, and they want it to work every time. Ebbu’s goal is to position consistent marijuana products as the pot equivalent of the Intel microchips that power nearly everything that emerges from Silicon Valley. Imagine: “Ebbu inside” stamped on the packaging of edibles and other manufactured pot products across the country.
The company’s co-founders, Michael “Dooma ” Wendschuh, 39 (above, left) and Jon Cooper, 40 (above, right), met over a decade ago in Los Angeles, where Dooma had co-founded a production company, and Cooper worked in movie finance. Neither of them are heavy pot smokers. They formed Ebbu in 2013, and soon emerged as leaders among a wave of new pot entrepreneurs — technocrats drawn to cannabis more for the potential profits and the excitement of pioneering a new industry than personal devotion to the plant. Before Ebbu had a product to sell, the company was featured in outlets like The Economist, Bloomberg, and the Fox Business Channel. Dooma “saw a problem that nobody seemed to be addressing,” The New Yorker website reported last May. During occasional TV spots and on the conference circuit, Dooma, Ebbu’s public face, personified the image that legal marijuana businesses hope to project: smart, sophisticated and law-abiding.