It’s been awfully quiet over at Pledge Music. After declaring in May they were going into administration (UK equivalent of bankruptcy) I can find no reporting that indicates Pledge has even started the process.
Here is the current website notice. Completely lacking in specifics. Nothing about administration. Maybe this is normal. Maybe it’s not. I will say that publicly available documents indicate the financial history of Pledge Music is extraordinarily complex. And if I were an administrator or creditor I would have a lot of questions. This could be the reason for the delay.
My colleague here at the Trichordist, David Lowery published this extensive overview of the Pledge Music fiasco two months ago. In the article he goes beyond the SEC charges against one of Pledge Music’s current owners and looks into the strange structure of the company; the multiple sub companies; the related entities; the offshore “panama papers” shell companies; and an SPIV (special purpose investment vehicle). Quite a complex structure for a company of its size.
Go read the piece: The Pledge Music Fiasco is Weirder Than You Think.
I’ve been looking at another loose end with Pledge Music. Who was the original investor that funded the company? Here is an excerpt of an April 2015 interview that Benji Roger (Co-founder of Pledge Music) did with Andrew Warner of Mixergy.
Andrew: Where did you find the angel investors who funded this and allowed you to actually bring it to fruition.
Benji: It was somebody I knew. I basically pitched them the idea and I said, “Who should I send this to?” I sent out, I think, five business plans originally and I said, “Who would you send this to? Who do you think this is a good idea for?” One guy wrote back and he was like, “I love this. This reminds me of how Obama was elected.”
Andrew: Who was the guy?
Benji: He was just a friend. He’s a private guy. He doesn’t want to–
Andrew: He doesn’t want–can you tell us what he does for a living that he can suddenly do this? Is he a musician? Is he an entrepreneur?
Benji: No. He’s in a totally other space. He’s in a totally other space. He’s a very private lad. I don’t want to–
Andrew: But you can’t even say what his background is?
Benji: No. He went to business school.
Andrew: That’s it?
Benji: That’s what I will say.
Andrew: Is it his dad’s money? His parents money?
Benji: No. It’s his.
Interesting. Go to the UK website where UK companies file required corporate documents. Look up Pledge Music LTD. By process of elimination (all the other original investors are listed by real name) it seems the silent investor is represented by an anonymous Panamanian company called Dolan Services Inc. This is from the 2010 Shareholder list.
Here is one installment of the money coming into the company. This document was filed March 25th 2009.
Notice the share amount matches Dolan Services Inc. So it’s reasonable to conclude this is the “silent” investor, and clearly the source of the startup capital for Pledge Music. So who is Dolan Services? An archive of the Panamanian Corporate registry seems to provide an answer. Notice the company was formed approximately 3 months before Pledge Music declared the investment and shortly after Pledge incorporated. And this seems to be the company’s only investment.
So It’s these folks right?
Probably wrong. These corporate officers are listed on hundreds if not thousands of Panamanian companies. This is a classic shell company registration operation. Just drill down on one of the officers.
He is listed on all of theses companies as an officer. This is only a partial list. Hundreds of companies.
I’m using this archive of the Panamanian companies because I can’t seem to find Dolan Services in the Panamanian registry any longer. It’s possible that I’m not searching properly as I do not speak Spanish. Strange. (Any help here is appreciated).
Dolan Services Inc. continues to be listed as the largest Shareholder in Pledge Music until late 2015. Then the filings at the UK Company House become a mess. At one point UK officials target Pledge Music with a form of “delisting.” Probably for not filing proper paperwork. But as far as I can tell Dolan Services seems to disappear from the Pledge Music financial documents after 2016. I could be wrong. Like I said the filings are a mess.
I don’t know what any of this means. And I’m not implying anything, other than the fact Pledge Music was originally funded by an anonymous Panama registered company that seems to have disappeared.
PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG. Leave comment if you have more information.