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Pledge co-founder comments on sale attempts as liquidation begins

By | Published on Friday 2 August 2019

PledgeMusic

PledgeMusic co-founder Benji Rogers has posted a statement about the various attempts to rescue the crowd-funding and pre-order platform that occurred before a winding up order was granted for the UK Pledge company by the high court in London on Wednesday.

Rogers was no longer working for the company he co-founded when it first admitted it was experiencing financial problems last year. He then returned on a voluntary basis earlier this year as those financial problems escalated, forcing the company to suspend operations.

It was hoped that a buyer could be found for the Pledge business that would be willing to make good on some, or preferably all, of the monies that were owed to artists who had used the company’s website to run crowd-funding and pre-order campaigns. It’s thought various entities expressed an interest in acquiring the firm, including one major label. But in the end no deal could be done.

After the Pledge website was replaced with a simple text statement last week, it emerged that the company’s board had submitted a petition to wind up the UK-based Pledge company back in June. The high court granted a winding up order on Wednesday, meaning the company’s affairs will now be handed over to the Official Receiver, a government official who will sell off the firm’s assets and, with any monies raised through that sale, pay off creditors.

In a message sent to artists and managers, and subsequently posted to Facebook, Rogers says that, although legal papers were filed to initiate the liquidation process in June, efforts to find a buyer for the company continued until earlier this week. Had any potential deal come through, the liquidation would have been called off, and the company likely been put into administration to allow a restructure ahead of a sale.

Confirming his voluntary consultancy with Pledge was now over, the official receiver being in control of the business, Rogers wrote: “This was not the route that I personally wanted for PledgeMusic and I wanted you to know that the last line of the many options that I had to get a sale of the company in administration was cut on the evening of the 28 Jul by text. This was the last viable option that I personally had after all previous attempts failed”.

He went on: “I would have given anything to have found the company a home, and it breaks my heart that you artists and your fans, who did not deserve to be put in this situation in the first place, have been left without what should rightfully be yours. I will forever wonder if I could have done more in my limited role as a volunteer, and I wish that the company would have been more forthcoming with information. The vacuum created wild speculation and misinformation which ultimately, I believe hurt this process. We will never know”.

Although it seems likely that the Official Receiver will now wind up the business, getting whatever money can be got by the sale of any assets, Rogers concluded: “I sincerely hope that the Official Receiver can find a buyer who will make right all of or at least some of what is owed to you and I will make every attempt to help that effort should it be asked for. I will look to get next steps put on the website as soon as I have them from the Official Receiver and am once again deeply sorry that I couldn’t pull off a sale which was always the preferred and best path for all involved”.

Cross-sector trade body UK Music has asked the British government to consider encouraging the Competition & Markets Authority and/or Financial Conduct Authority to investigate what went wrong at Pledge. The trade group says that the regulators should ascertain if any laws were broken, and consider if there is anything that can be learned to ensure other crowd-funding operations don’t likewise collapse in a way that leaves those who raised money via such a site out of pocket.



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