Microsoft is trying really very hard to not be the next Yahoo. It’s ticked most of the boxes of a corporate mid-life crisis: buying a social network, failing to make smartphones, and shouting about the cloud a lot.
But after much introspection, Microsoft’s execs have settled on its new moneymaker: making software for the legal weed industry.
A sprawling profile in the New York Times details Microsoft’s plans to offer software that will track marijuana plants from “seed to sale.” As marijuana products go, it’s about as boring as things get: the software mostly helps governments and regulatory bodies track weed plants and ensure compliance. Not exactly the dankest side of the industry, but it’s still a big step forwards for Microsoft.
Even though marijuana is legalized in some form in over half of US states, it remains illegal on a federal level. That’s prevented many big companies from entering the industry, and marijuana growers and sellers still have a serious problem trying to get a bank account. So for such a well-known, non-controversial company to throw its weight and legitimacy behind the weed industry (even in a limited way) is a big deal.
It’s also an interesting look into an industry that is ripe for technological innovation. Marijuana users tend to be younger, more technology-focused, and far more willing to embrace retail models that are different from the established norms. With no particularly established players or rulebook, the retail marijuana is prime for some Silicon Valley innovation. Microsoft might be leading the charge, but there’s sure to be high interest in this budding industry.