Saturday Finances—Why David Bowie Was a Smart Businessman

Way before it became popular, David Bowie created an investment bond, his own Internet service provider, and his own bank.

front of a Brixton 10-pound note 

back of a Brixton 10-pound note

The Man Who Sold the World

Very talented people tend to be smart in more ways than one.  

This was the case with David Bowie, who was not only a brilliant musician, but also a financial innovator and an online entrepreneur.    

In 1997, he launched his own asset-backed security, giving his fans a chance to invest in bonds backed by revenue from his albums recorded through 1990 as collateral.  

Known as "Bowie Bonds" or Pullman Bonds (originally backed by Prudential Insurance), they were one of the first instances of a bond using intellectual property as the underlying collateral.  They were 10-year bonds that paid 7.9% interest.  Compared to current rates of 1 to 3 percent, that's a respectable return.

In March 2004, Bowie Bonds were downgraded to near-junk status due to weak album sales related to the rise of online music sharing.  

He recognized the power of social media, so in the summer of 1998, he launched his own Internet service provider called, "Bowienet."  The ISP was created to provide his fans with a forum where they could connect.  

This was 5 years before MySpace (founded August 1, 2003) and 6 years ahead of Facebook (founded February 4, 2004).

In January 2000, Bowie decided to expand his business enterprise into banking by opening his own branded online bank., part of, collected a marketing fee based on the number of accounts.  The Brixton pound was a hyperlocal currency used in the Brixton district of London where he lived with his family from 1947 to 1953.

Behind his many stage personas was a very smart businessman.  

Brixton 20-pound currency

A Brixton 1-pound currency

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