Friday 25 April 2014

Bono doubles his money as Yelp eyes €650m flotation

U2 FRONTMAN Bono is set for a major windfall as another massive technology investment pays off. Bono is a partner in Silicon Valley private equity firm Elevation Partners which owns a 22 per cent chunk of social media and review site Yelp, which announced plans for a €650m IPO last week.

All eyes will be on the Yelp flotation as it will be the first major internet company IPO on Wall Street this year.

The Yelp float -- which will raise about €80m for the company -- is seen as a huge barometer of tech investor sentiment ahead of the €100bn Facebook listing in coming months.

Bono, of course, has a keen interest in Facebook, thanks to Elevation's 1.5 per cent stake. The move will also be watched closely by Facebook's 300 Irish staff, many of whom own restricted stock units in the company.

Elevation initially invested around €19m to buy shares in Yelp in January 2010. Another €55m was committed to boosting that stake through the secondary markets as Yelp shareholders offloaded stock in the private company.

The near €75m investment in the company has almost doubled in value in just over two years, representing a spectacular return.

The Yelp and Facebook floats mark quite a turnaround in the fortunes of the sunglasses-wearing rocker.

In March 2010, a well-known US investment website, 24/7WallSt, labelled Bono the "worst investor in America" following a series of share-buying expeditions in handset maker Palm, property website and business magazine Forbes.

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