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Yelp! It's another €165m for Bono

HE was once derided as the "worst investor in America" -- but now it seems U2 frontman Bono can do no wrong.

The singer was celebrating on the stock markets again yesterday as a second major investment in a technology firm paid off.

Bono's investment company Elevation Partners paid $95m (€70m) for a 22pc stake in website Yelp just two years ago.

When the company floated on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, the shares soared 60pc and by last night the €70m investment was worth a staggering €235m -- a paper profit of €165m.

Yelp is an online advertising and review guide that competes with the likes of Google for local ads -- it is the equivalent of a modern "golden pages" but with users also writing reviews of the businesses that advertise.

It is the latest social networking website given a massive valuation by investors -- even though the sector is in its infancy.

Bono is becoming as well known for his hits in the markets as he is for hits in the charts.

Accurate

Elevation paid $120m for a 1pc stake in Facebook in 2010, and that investment could now be worth a cool $1bn (€760m) if estimates of a $100bn valuation for the social networking site prove accurate.

Facebook is due to launch on the stock market later in the year.

It is a huge turnaround because Bono and Elevation were described as the 'worst investor in America in 2010' by online publication '24/7 Wall Street'.

At the time, detractors said Elevation had earned the title for what looked like a disastrous investment in Palm, a company that makes smart phones.

Palm was being bashed aside in the smart phone market, first by Blackberry and then by the Apple iPhone.

Even so, Elevation eventually managed to break even when Palm was sold to Hewlitt Packard -- and that was before the latest big scores on social media shares.

Bono is just one a number of players in Elevation Partners.

The singer is the only professional musician on the team. The rest are well-established big hitters in California's Silicon Valley, the global home of high technology investing.

The team includes Fred Anderson, who was once the top finance man at Apple Computers, and John Riccitiello, former chief operating officer at video games maker Electronic Arts.

Marc Bodnick and Roger McNamee, formerly of Silver Lake Partners and Bret Pearlman, formerly of the Blackstone Group, make up the rest of the team.

Elevation raised a €1.4bn war chest from an even bigger group of investors back in 2004, who will all share in the profits on the Yelp and Facebook investments.

The 2004 funds have almost all been invested, and Bono and the team are understood to be considering raising a new fund for future investments.

Irish Independent