It’s been no secret that Aurora Cannabis (ACB.C) and I aren’t cracking beers on the patio.
Enigmatic CEO Terry Booth and I have scrapped in the past, publicly and otherwise, and while nobody disputes he’s built the A-1 grow facility in Canada in Alberta, Aurora’s balance sheet, a legal scuffle with former exec Marc Levy, and the CEO’s tendency to burn bridges have kept the company under a cloud that is reflected in recent share price tumbles.
This morning I spoke to new recruit Cam Battley, who is the new VP of Communications, though I think he mandate stretches further than IR, and though the conversation was entirely off the record, talking to him frankly and openly made me feel better about ACB’s future than I have at any time over the last year.
Battley, for those who don’t know, is legit. He was most recently at Bedrocan, where his role was in part to move that company towards more of a pharma tilt, and he has the deep sector background to make that happen, consulting as he does for Big Pharma companies on the regular.
When he showed up at Aurora, my first thought was to contact him and say, “Oh no, Cam, what have you done? Don’t you know?”
But I didn’t because he knows. What Battley is doing at Aurora is taking a company with fixable problems, and cleaning it up from the inside out. Or at least he’s going to try. It’s a classic Moneyball move, and regular readers know Moneyball is my bible.
I would expect, if Battley is allowed to do his thing, the company will show better numbers financially going forward, the patient acquisition numbers are already decent but will keep moving in the right direction – and nobody questions the quality of the product.
Which leaves the Levy/Booth situation and, more specifically, the Booth situation.
What it comes down to, to me, is this: We’ve definitely had our scuffles, Booth and I, but bringing Battley aboard is the best move he’s made to date. If you’re looking for a yes man, Cam Battley is not the guy you pick.
But if you’re looking to flip some tables and make changes, to call some detractors and talk them around, and to bring in new investors – he’ll do.
So I’m prepared to take my foot off ACB’s neck for a bit, give Booth a long leash and see what Battley can make happen in a short time. Popcorn at the ready.