As Dutchie searched for a PR firm to help tell its story, Lipson looked for strategists who had worked with big-name companies in other industries and could bring that experience to bear in the nascent, but fast-growing weed industry. Riff City’s longtime partnerships with self-driving car company Cruise and micro-mobility pioneer Bird, which just went public, fit the bill. Dutchie has since become one of the fastest-growing technology companies and earned a $3.75 billion valuation.
Led by Brian Purchia and Jess Montejano, communications chiefs and technology and policy advisers for two former San Francisco mayors, Riff City is building a public relations and public affairs firm focused on positive impact first and profits second.
Riff’s leadership has significant tech experience, including helping develop California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s tech and innovation platform for his run for Governor, working with the State’s tech team after COVID hit to create a “central clearinghouse to identify solutions for immediate COVID response needs” and leading technology policy efforts for the City and County of San Francisco, which entailed delivering internet access to all in San Francisco.
“Our boutique agency is very selective about who we work with because time is limited. We prioritize partners that are values-aligned and share our passion for the positive impact we want to have for our communities and planet,” said Jess Montejano, Riff City’s SVP & COO.
Riff City also advised Malcolm Joshua Weitz, a San Francisco native who was previously incarcerated as part of the failed war on drugs, who partnered with MedMen to open their first San Francisco locations under the City’s Cannabis Social Equity Program.
Riff City helped MedMen
and Weitz earn unanimous planning approval for two locations, helping to achieve his dream of being a legal cannabis entrepreneur. MedMen’s first San Francisco store opened this week in the Cow Hollow neighborhood. Riff was also behind Cookies’ Bay Area retail expansion, helping the company earn approval for two stores as well.
While the firm could have elected to concentrate solely on cannabis clients, Riff City says it is energized by working with partners spanning many different industries and issue areas that are values-aligned. The company works with clients from early-stage startups to public companies to top funders and political organizations.
They also partner with clients like Protect Our Defenders to combat the military’s longstanding sexual assault epidemic and Donors of Color Network to shift hundreds of millions in new resources towards racial and economic justice to build a winning climate movement.
Riff City was also named by Inc Magazine as one of the fastest-growing businesses in California and is currently accepting new partners who need help building a movement or brand that can change the world.