Feb 16, 2021

Question of the Day: What was the first Black-owned business listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)?

Answer: Black Entertainment Television (BET) was founded by Robert Johnson, America’s first Black billionaire, and his company was listed on the NYSE in 1991. 


  • How does a company benefit from being listed on a stock exchange?
  • The founder, Robert Johnson, noted that his first job was managing a paper route as a kid. What lessons do you think he learned from that experience?
  • Why do you think BET was such a successful business? 

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (CNBC): 

In 1991, BET became the first black-owned company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, according to CNN Money.

“My big break came when cable magnate John Malone, then CEO of Tele-Communications Inc., the country’s third-largest cable company, decided to invest in my company, even though I had no experience running any business, never mind a national media company,” he told Fortune.

In 2001, Johnson became a billionaire after selling the station to Viacom for $3 billion, which catapulted his net worth to an estimated $1.3 billion. At the time, BET reached 62.4 million homes.


For more Questions of the Day, check out the QoD Library

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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