Akerna Makes $18M Investment in Anti-Counterfeiting Technology Leader solo sciences
The Deal Strengthens Akerna’s Ability to Deliver Global Supply Chain Transparency

DENVER, Nov. 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Counterfeit goods harm consumers and brands. To strengthen its leading technology platform and increase transparency in the global cannabis supply chain, Akerna (Nasdaq: KERN), a leading cannabis compliance technology provider and developer of the cannabis industry’s first seed-to-sale enterprise resource planning (ERP) software technology (MJ Platform®), has taken a majority stake in privately-held solo sciences inc., a recognized leader of patented anti-counterfeiting and consumer engagement technologies. The investment is another step in Akerna’s commitment to creating the pre-eminent global technology platform to address the entire supply chain and its regulatory bodies through accountability and transparency.

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solo sciences tech platform is complementary to Akerna’s software platforms and is driving consumer safety through its anti-counterfeiting technology and alert functionality. Manufacturers that use a solo*CODE™ proprietary graphic trust mark on their product packaging enable consumers to scan products with the solo* phone app and learn if a product is real or fake and get real-time notifications.

“Akerna’s investment in solo is another step in our commitment to creating the pre-eminent global technology platform, addressing the entire supply chain and its regulatory bodies through accountability and transparency and will help us accelerate our growth and create a new industry standard,” said Jessica Billingsley, chief executive officer, Akerna. “From our perspective, this technology is important to consumer safety and transparency. Using solo*CODE and the solo* app, consumers can confirm product authenticity, get in-depth information about what they’re buying, and view related products.”

solo sciences technology surpasses legacy authentication tools by closing the loop between the user and the manufacturer. Holograms give a false sense of security, but each solo*CODE has a unique fingerprint for every package, augmented by the solo* app, which confirms if a product is real or fake. Beyond authentication, the app offers users a plethora of benefits, including learning about the product and earning rewards. 

“Akerna and solo sciences share a vision to protect consumers from dangerous counterfeit cannabis products and vape cartridges—things that can kill you,” said Ashesh (Alex) Shah, founder, and chief executive officer, solo sciences. “Joining forces with Akerna allows us to accelerate our ability to innovate and deliver technology solutions that can improve consumer safety. We are one of the few – if any – technologies in the space that can actively push a recall notification to our users, which is critical in fighting the current vaping crisis, and in addressing other industry challenges.”

Key Facts:

  • In September, Akerna announced an exclusive partnership with solo sciences to enable brands to track seed-to-sale and provide customers with an easy way to verify product authenticity.
  • The Utah Department of Health and Department of Agriculture awarded Akerna a contract to implement its seed-to-sale tracking platform, Leaf Data Systems® (Leaf Data), for its medical cannabis program. Utah is the first state to use Leaf Data Systems with the solo*TAG as part of its traceability platform for cannabis businesses and regulatory bodies.

How Akerna and solo* tech are complementary: Akerna’s MJ Platform and solo*CODE innovative integrated technology for consumers and brands brings a consumer-facing mark designed to highlight the authenticity and signify transparency. MJ Platform – Akerna’s seed-to-sale system provides:

  • Transparency and accountability throughout the product life cycle, capturing every interaction with the plant and product from cultivation to sales. Now visibility extends to customers with the integration of solo*CODE.
  • solo*CODE (a unique graphic ID or “fingerprint” for each package) can be integrated into ready-for-sale products, scanned via a mobile app free to the public and available so consumers can validate product authenticity and provide accurate information about the product’s life cycle while enabling the consumers to earn rewards across retailers, and give feedback directly to the brand.
  • solo* mobile-first, patented tech platform leverages the power of today’s mobile devices by allowing the solo* app to scan the proprietary solo*CODE graphic mark to create a cryptographically secure closed-loop authentication system.

Akerna’s Leaf Data Systems and solo*TAG – an innovative, next-generation solution for state and national governments to securely track product and waste throughout the supply chain. Leaf Data systems track and trace software provides:

  • Real-time data to cannabis cultivators, infused product producers, dispensaries and collectives; tightly integrated with solo*TAG.
  • More transparency and accountability with Leaf Data’s closed-loop between governments and licensees eliminates alternate data collection sources, which reduces error, improves security, and increases accountability. The advanced solo*TAG technology is also assigned to each plant, batch, inventory item, and provides a chain-of-custody from seed-to-self for detailed transparency.
  • Less cost to licensees through solo science’s patented solo*TAG, a unique digital fingerprint that eliminates the need for expensive technologies like holograms and RFID. The solo*TAG can also cost a fraction of the cost of current tagging technology, reducing some of the compliance cost burdens for cannabis licensees.
  • Mobile capabilities with solo*TAG being mobile-app enabled, Leaf Data is now the first mobile-enabled, seed-to-sale government traceability platform for cannabis businesses and regulatory bodies.

Transaction Details:

A presentation that includes more details about the transaction will be filed with the SEC under form 8-K and will be available soon on our website.

Call for Investors:

The Company will host a conference call on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 4:30 pm ET / 1:30 pm PT. To participate in the conference call, please dial 1-877-407-3982 (domestic) or 1-201-493-6780 (international). The passcode is 13697150. Please dial into the call at least five minutes before the scheduled start time.

The conference call will also be available via a live listen-only webcast and can be accessed through the Investor Relations section of Akerna’s website, www.akerna.com. For interested individuals unable to join the live conference call, a replay of the call will be available through Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at (844) 512-2921 (domestic) or (412) 317-6671 (international). The passcode for the call and replay is 13697150.

About Akerna:

Akerna is a global regulatory compliance technology company in the cannabis space. Akerna’s service offerings include MJ Platform®, Leaf Data Systems®, and solo sciences tech platform. Since its establishment in 2010, the company has tracked more than $16 billion in cannabis sales. As part of its business strategy, Akerna intends to grow through targeted, strategic acquisitions that are complementary to its current business and organically by accelerating its product development efforts. Akerna is based in Denver.

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements made in this release and in any accompanying statements by management are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this press release, the words “estimates,” “projected,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “forecasts,” “plans,” “intends,” “believes,” “seeks,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “future,” “propose” and variations of these words or similar expressions (or the negative versions of such words or expressions) are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, conditions or results, and involve a number of significant known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other important factors, many of which are outside Akerna’s control, that could cause actual results or outcomes (including, without limitation, the results of Akerna’s contracts, strategic initiatives, and business plans as described herein) to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Important factors, among others, that may affect actual results or outcomes include (i) Akerna’s ability to recognize the anticipated benefits of being a public company, (ii) competition, (iii) Akerna’s ability to grow and manage growth profitably, (iv) Akerna’s ability to maintain relationships with customers and suppliers and retain its management and key employees, (v) costs related to being a public company, (vi) changes in applicable laws or regulations, (vii) Akerna’s ability to identify and integrate acquisitions and achieve expected synergies and operating efficiencies in connection with acquired businesses, (viii) and other risks and uncertainties disclosed from time to time in Akerna’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including those under “Risk Factors” therein.  Actual results, performance, or achievements may differ materially, and potentially adversely, from any projections and forward-looking statements and the assumptions on which those vary from forward-looking statements are based. There can be no assurance that the data contained herein is reflective of future performance to any degree. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a predictor of future performance as projected financial and other information, are based on estimates and assumptions that are inherently subject to various significant risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond Akerna’s control. All information herein speaks only as of the date hereof, in the case of information about Akerna, or the date of such information, in the case of information from persons other than Akerna. Akerna undertakes no duty to update or revise the information contained herein. Forecasts and estimates regarding Akerna’s industry and end markets are based on sources believed to be reliable; however, there can be no assurance these forecasts and estimates will prove accurate in whole or in part.

Media Contact: Investor Contact:
D. Nikki Wheeler Jason Assad
303-514-2012 678-570-6791
Nikki.Wheeler@Akerna.Com Jason.Assad@Akerna.Com 

 

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Source: Akerna Corp.

Released November 26, 2019

Jessica Billingsley

Akerna

Jessica Billingsley serves as Akerna’s Chief Executive Officer. In June 2019 she became the first CEO of a cannabis ancillary company to be listed on Nasdaq. She co-founded MJ Freeway in 2010, where she served as President until April 2018, and later as the CEO until MJ Freeway was acquired by MTech to form Akerna. In 2015, she was named as one of Fortune’s Most Promising Female Entrepreneurs, in 2018, she was named one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Female Founders, and in 2019, she was named to Entrepreneur’s inaugural list of 100 Powerful Women.

Prior to MJ Freeway, Jessica earned her degree in Communications and Computer Science from the University of Georgia and later became CEO and founder of Zoco, a technology services firm with clients across the United States. With 20 years of technology and systems experience in rapidly scaling businesses, Jessica is a highly regarded executive in both the tech and cannabis space.

Ray Thompson

Chief Operating Officer

Ray Thompson is the Chief Operations Officer at MJ Freeway. He has 15+ years of corporate management experience including operations, sales, and talent management. From 2008 to 2016, Ray served as the Senior Vice President of VisionLink, a multiagency humanitarian software platform. From 2016-2018, Ray was Head of Customer and Sales Operations at Gloo, a people development platform. With 20+ experience in software systems, Ray specializes in the meeting the unique needs of high growth technology companies and helping them scale.

Ruth Ann Kraemer

Chief Financial Officer

Ruth Ann leads MJF’s financial operations. From 2012 to 2018, she served as CFO of Tempo Financial Holdings, Tempo Financial US Corp, and Unidos Financial Services, subsidiaries of Catalina Acquisitions. From 2010 to 2012, she worked for Linc Energy Operations as Divisional CFO. Prior to that, Ruth Ann was CFO for Allegro Multimedia, and has held various financial roles throughout her career. She was certified as a CPA in 1985.

Mark D. Iwanowski

Global Visions-SV, Inc.

Mark D. Iwanowski is the Founder, CEO and President of Global Visions-SV, Inc. He was previously a Managing Director with Trident Capital, Cleantech and served as Senior Vice Presential Global IT and CIO for Oracle Corporation. Mark also held executive positions with Raytheon and was principal at three successful startups—Applied Remote Technology, Quantum Magnetics, and Neohapsis. He earned his MBA from National University and California Institute of Technology, and B.S. in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Emery Huang

Batu Capital

Emery Huang is senior partner at Batu Capital, which is a multi-family office managed by Emery and Evan Huang. Batu looks for opportunities in cryptocurrency, cannabis, and big data that constitute either game-changing technologies or are late-stage/pre-IPO enterprises that have built wide economic moats. Prior to Batu, Emery was senior partner at Titan Capital.

Matt Kane

Green Shades Software

Matt Kane is the Co-Founder, Board Member, and former Co-CEO from 2005-2019 of Greenshades Software. He is also a Co-Founder and Board Member of Welltality, where he served as CEO from 2014-2018. Matt’s background is in building, growing and scaling software companies. He has been a member of the MJ Freeway Board of Directors since 2015 and earned his MBA from Warrington College of Business at University of Florida and B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Jacksonville University.

Roger McNamee

Elevation Partners

Roger McNamee co-founded Elevation, an investment partnership focused on the intersection of media and entertainment content and consumer technology. In 1999, he co-founded Silver Lake Partners, the first private equity fund focused on technology businesses. He notably was a key early investor in Facebook, and he released his insights on the social media site in a new book called “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe,” published by Penguin Random House.

Tahira Rehmatullah

MTech

Tahira Rehmatullah is President of T3 Ventures, Partner of Big Tent Ventures, and member of the board of directors for Akerna Corp. Tahira has previously held positions at Hypur Ventures, MTech Acquisition Corp., Marley Natural, Privateer Holdings, City First Enterprises, Perry Capital, and Ernst & Young. She is an investor and advisor to numerous cannabis businesses and entrepreneurs, including the advisory board of The Initiative and the Last Prisoner Project, and is dedicated to developing female and minority leadership in the industry. Tahira earned her MBA from the Yale School of Management and BS. in Finance from The Ohio State University. She resides in New York City.

Alex Shah

solo*sciences

Ashesh “Alex” Shah is the founder and CEO of solo*sciences, a leading anti-counterfeiting and supply chain validation company. Mr. Shah founded The London Fund in 2002 and continues to serve on its investment committee. In June 2018, Mr. Shah was appointed Special Advisor to the CEO of Eaze Technologies, Inc., a position which he continues to serve. Mr. Shah is also currently on the board of directors of RevolutionWear, Inc. and EdCast. Mr. Shah’s has 28 years of experience building, integrating, and leading technology-focused companies from concept to an initial public offering and has led successful exits across a range of sectors including: loyalty; category management; data analytics; high-performance computing; payment processing; human resources technology; consumer packaged goods; artificial intelligence and fashion. Mr. Shah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from Williams College.

Scott Sozio

Akerna

Scott Sozio serves as Head of Corporate Development for Akerna. He was the CEO of MTech Acquisition Corp., a Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company that merged with MJ Freeway to create Akerna. He is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Hypur Ventures, a cannabis-focused venture fund and a Partner at Van Dyke Holdings, a family office investment firm. Scott is Director of Hypur Inc., a banking compliance technology business, and Director of Simplifya Holdings, LLC, a cannabis compliance technology business. He received his B.A. in Architecture from Columbia University.