Dan Primack has some good notes on U2’s Bono, and how he was a “double-edged” sword in the fund-raising process for Elevation Partners, the Silicon Valley-based firm launched by veteran investor Roger McNamee.
We ran a story (and blogged more) about Elevation and McNamee when the fund first closed. Among the people we talked with was Elizabeth Obershaw, an investor for HP, and who decided to invest in Elevation Partners — in part because of Bono’s presence as a partner of the firm. She praised Bono’s management skills, for his having kept the U2 together for so long and for astutely preserving its intellectual property rights. “A lot of artists give up…
their rights in exchange for higher royalties,” she explained. “But U2 did things a bit differently, and I think it’s paid off. It keeps them in charge.” She called Bono a visionary, who knows how to change with the times. The more she got to know him, the more she realized he had good business sense: “Look at the deal with iPod and iTunes. They were right on that.”
Bono also brings access to anyone in the media and entertainment world, she said. “There’s no one who won’t pick up the phone when Bono calls.”
Sure, people will be agog when Bono calls, and yes, they’d love to meet with him. But will they do a deal? Stanford University, we heard back in July, did pick up the phone when Bono called, and agreed to meet with him — how could you not meet with Bono! — but nevertheless decided not to invest. (Now we caution, because we heard this before the final close of the fund. We don’t know if they perhaps changed their mind).
Anyway, here’s a snippet from Primack, writing based on conversation with an Elevation insider:
On the one hand, there were many people drawn to the fund because of Bono’s celebrity, but there were others – particularly public pension fund managers – nervous about being perceived as celebrity worshippers. After all, the press would have a field day with: “Bono to invest state’s money” or, even worse “Rock star to collect management fees from public pensioners.” You know, perception becoming reality and all that nastiness.
Rather than slinking away from the challenge, however, Bono became a fund-raising force in his own right, participating in around 80 meetings with potential investors. Many of the meetings were one-on-one, in which his combination of industry knowledge and charm helped secure fund commitments.
Update: Dan Primack has more in comments.