Microsoft is breaking a long-held corporate taboo by teaming up with Californian-based start-up KIND Financial to help the legal marijuana trade stay legit. KIND Government Solutions will take advantage of Microsoft's Azure Government cloud platform to enable authorities to monitor the marijuana trade from "seed to sale".
While Microsoft's venture will not directly involve the sale of marijuana, it is the company's first foray in the industry. KIND is promoting the software as a useful regulatory tool which helps to, "close the loop between marijuana-related businesses, regulatory agencies, and financial institutions."
The announcement does set Microsoft apart from many large US corporations, who have so far avoided investing in legal marijuana. With the drug being legalized in Microsoft's home state of Washington in 2014, and other states including California voting on legalization this year, the barriers to investment are starting to fall.
Microsoft's Kimberly Nelson said the timing was right for the Redmond-based company to get involved.
"We do think there will be significant growth. As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”
It may be a relatively small investment for Microsoft, particularly after announcing it was purchasing LinkedIn earlier this week. But it is a significant step for a newly legalized industry struggling to shake a negative reputation.