Bono is famous not just for being a rock star, a philanthropist and a wearer of weird glasses, but also for being a big investor.Problem is, he’s not very good at it. He’s so bad, that today, 24/7 Wall St named him “The Worst Investor In America.”
Bono’s biggest investment has been in a firm called Elevation Partners, which is named after a catchy U2 song.
It is a private equity firm that invests in both private and public companies, and pretty much all of their tech investments have bombed lately.
Elevation’s first fund has basically almost run out and it’s rumoured to be raising a second one. Our guess is it won’t be easy.
Elevation put around $300 million in Forbes Inc. in 2006, which retrospectively looks like perhaps the worst time ever to invest in an old media company.
The company was valued at around $750 million back then. Now it's worth perhaps $100 million.
Back in 2005, Elevation put $100 million in a publicly traded company called Move.com, which is basically a network of real estate websites. Retrospectively, that also looks like very bad timing for a big bet on real estate, when the bubble was near its peak.
Elevation owns about 15% of Move.com and their shares have dropped 50% since 2005.
Not long ago, Yelp boastfully turned down a $500 million buyout offer from Google, spreading rumours about an impending IPO. Since then things have gone downhill.
It took an investment of $25 million from Elevation, which has said it might increase its stake to as much as $100 million, but since that investment it's been battered by lawsuits from customers. The claimants assert that Yelp is running an 'extortion racket' by threatening them to delete good reviews from their service unless they buy ads. And its core business is threatened by mobile services such as Foursquare, which is building a social city guide, which brings more to users with its gaming and mobile social networking aspects, and to proprietors by giving them real time information about what their customers are doing.