Eaze CEO Rogelio Choy departs

By Alex Halperin
Sep 23, 2022
Photo credit: Getty Images

Rogelio Choy, who led delivery service Eaze for four tumultuous years, has stepped down. He’s been replaced by executive Cory Azzalino.

“With a hyper focus on expanding retail and profitability, the company needs greater clarity and strategic vision in areas outside of my expertise,” Choy wrote in a parting email, the text of which was obtained by WeedWeek.

  • The note says the company, which operates in California, Colorado, Florida and Michigan, has $200M in revenue.
  • As of several months ago, Eaze accounted for one-third of the deliveries in California, but was struggling to reach profitability in the state’s hypercompetitive market.
  • In July, the company received a $15M credit facility to focus on growth in Colorado and Florida 

One of the industry’s original darlings, Bay Area-based Eaze launched in 2014 and has raised more than $250M from high profile investors including Silicon Valley technologist Jim Clark.

  • Described as the “Uber of weed,” the company initially operated a tech platform that enabled customers to buy cannabis online and facilitated delivery without touching the plant. In 2020 it pivoted to become a plant-touching company.

Choy joined Eaze in 2018 from the tech world and was promoted to CEO the next year. As Choy led the pivot, he cooperated with federal prosecutors as two former Eaze consultants faced trial, and were convicted, of conspiracy to commit bank fraud for a scheme that tricked credit card companies into processing transactions on Eaze’s non-plant touching platform. 

  • Former Eaze CEO Jim Patterson pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy and testified against the consultants.
  • Under Choy, Eaze was not accused of wrongdoing.

Eaze’s acquisition of Green Dragon, a profitable, family-owned operator, which closed early this year, initially looked like a comeback story. 

  • Green Dragon operated in Colorado and Florida.
  • However, in an April meeting, a recording of which was obtained by WeedWeek, Green Dragon executive Alex Levine said the deal did more to improve Eaze’s “entire situation.” “I don’t know where this company would be if this did not happen.”

In that meeting, Levine’s father Alex Levine described Eaze’s engineering team as its key asset and the smartest people at the company.

“We live or die by [the engineering] team,” Choy said.

  • The company has since reportedly laid off members of its engineering team. It also brought in a new CTO, Mervyn Lally, who previously worked for Experian.
  • Trey Handley, who previously worked for Green Dragon, remains the company’s CFO.
  • At the April meeting, a member of the engineering team who is no longer with the company said she believed it was the Green Dragon team, not Choy, running the company.
  • At the time, WeedWeek reported that Alex Levine and his stepmother Lisa Leder held two of the company’s eight board seats.

The April meeting took place against a backdrop of tense relations with Eaze’s workforce.

Before the Green Dragon acquisition, Eaze had relatively warm relations with California unions. But in April, the company faced picket lines at a Colorado grow house where the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 accused it of hard-edged anti-union tactics. At the same time, delivery drivers in San Francisco who had voted to unionize sought to negotiate a contract.  

Jim Araby, an organizer with UFCW Local 5 in the Bay Area said the San Francisco workers and Eaze had reached an agreement due to be ratified today. It is similar to a contract negotiated by Eaze drivers in Oakland but without a $1 payment for each completed delivery, he said.

“It’s the best we could get given the difficulties of the cannabis market,” Araby said.

  • Araby said the union is now working to organize Eaze workers at an Element 7 location in South San Francisco, which would give the union four of the six NorCal depots owned or operated by Eaze.

Eaze declined to comment for this article or make its new CEO Azzalino available for an interview.  

  • UFCW’s Araby said he believes the Levines and Lisa Leder, formerly of Green Dragon, still call the shots at the company.