In the Internet age, a catchy website URL can be the difference between a successful launch and a complete failure, which is why some people and companies pay tens of millions of dollars for them.
When it comes to cannabis websites, the running assumption is the catchiest URLs are short and use a colloquial term to refer to cannabis, which is a logic that Bud.com fully epitomizes. Bud.com is the brainchild of Justin Hall, a longtime resident of San Francisco who originally came out to the Bay Area in 1994 to become the youngest writer for Wired Magazine as they launched HotWired.com, host of the first online ad banners.
Back in the infancy of the internet, Hall was a blogging pioneer who acquired a few short URLs when they were free for the taking. After registering Bud.com in December 1994, Hall held it for over 20 years, imagining it might make a good cannabis website. It took until California’s adult use legalization in 2018 to make Bud.com a reality. Hall likes to say he has “been in the online cannabis industry since ’94 but just made his first money last week.”
In 1998 and again in the early 2000s, Hall rebuffed attempts by Budweiser to purchase Bud.com from him for $50,000, which he says is “a ridiculous price for a three-letter domain.”
I first met Hall in 2014 when we were both part of an anti-NSA comedy night, drawing attention to the issue of government spying through humor. We lost touch until 2017’s International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in San Francisco, when we reconnected around his hopes to launch Bud.com as a cannabis website. For a while, Hall was considering using it as a social networking site for cannabis users (similar to MassRoots), and then he was thinking about using it as a platform to buy and sell homegrown product, like a Craigslist for cannabis. Instead of either of those ideas, Hall took Bud.com from concept to launch as a new delivery website, competing with other California delivery services such as Meadow, Green Rush and Eaze. In an amusing twist of fate, a former Budweiser executive (who was not involved with either purchase attempt) is now working for Hall’s competitor, Green Rush.
Coming full circle, Hall was asked to moderate a panel on technology at 2018’s ICBC, graduating from an attendee with an idea and a badass URL to a successfully launched company on stage, speaking to dreamers hoping for successful launches of their own. His panel ranged across many big picture topics including the massive electricity consumption of indoor grows, child safety, issues of oversupply and the need to use biodegradable materials.
Hall was not shy about discussing some of the issues Bud.com faces. “As a delivery service, I am left drowning in a tidal wave of vape cartridge waste,” Hall says. (Though, in his defense, cartridge waste isn’t just an issue for delivery services.)
Like all other major delivery services, Bud.com uses your zip code to help connect you to nearby cannabis for both medical and adult use market. Currently, Bud.com only serves customers and patients in Northern California, primarily the Bay Area. Also, like the other major delivery services, Bud.com doesn’t just deliver cannabis, it also delivers education, helping buyers understand the medical benefits of THC and CBD, as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes. In a change from other big competitors like Meadow, Eaze and Woahstork, Bud.com does not offer to connect would-be medical patients to doctors.
“We welcome medical patients, but we are focused on the recreational market,” says Hall. “We want to help an entirely new range of folks develop a relationship with this incredible plant.” So, if you are already a medical patient, or just an adult in need of some bud, then Bud.com has you covered.
For Hall, it was worth the wait. He couldn’t be happier to have launched Bud.com as a cannabis business, rather than selling to Budweiser or anyone else over the years.
“After 2013, cannabis industry people began approaching me with business ideas, asking if they could purchase the domain with money or equity,” Hall says. “I realized I didn’t want to sell Bud.com for money, I wanted a ticket to adventure. Working in legal cannabis today is the adventure of a lifetime.”
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