NEW DELHI: Brendan Kennedy knew early on that his bet on marijuana would take years to pay off—if at all. It’s “either career suicide or it’s the smartest decision we’ve ever made in our lives—and we won’t know for three to five years,” Kennedy told Bloomberg in 2012.
The windfall didn’t arrive for six years, but close enough. In July, Tilray became the first cannabis company to list its shares on a US exchange and rode a wave of investor hype to end 2018 with a 315% gain. That made Kennedy, its 47-year-old CEO, the 2nd-highestpaid executive in 2018 among companies traded on US exchanges, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index. His $256 million compensation package trails only the $513 million Tesla awarded to Elon Musk.
Bob Iger of Walt Disney stood third in the pay ranking. He’s followed by Apple’s Tim Cook and Nikesh Arora, the former SoftBank Group executive who took over as CEO of Palo Alto Networks last year. Kennedy, unlike the other four, hasn’t previously been among the world’s top-paid managers. With Tilray, he joins exclusive club of entrepreneurs whose gambles yielded compensation packages of a magnitude rarely