Are Bono and the Edge among Ireland’s best tech investors?

3 Apr 2012

U2’s Bono and the Edge have emerged as something of tech-investment supremos. Last night, it emerged via a tweet that both Bono and the Edge took part in the US$250m second-round funding of Dropbox.

And let’s not forget Bono’s track record from having invested in both Facebook and Yelp through the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm he is a partner in, Elevation Partners.

Yesterday, Dropbox tweeted: @Dropbox is excited to welcome Bono & The Edge as investors. Thanks for the support and look forward to great things!”

Dropbox is one of Silicon Valley’s most enigmatic start-ups. It is a cloud-based, file-hosting system you can put on any iPad, PC or smartphone and simply store documents in the cloud and retrieve them off any device.

It was started in MIT in 2008 by graduates Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi and took part in the Y Combinator accelerator programme.

Dropbox uses a freemium model in which it offers users the first 2GB of storage for free and users who refer Dropbox to others get an additional 8GB for free.

The company’s annual revenues are believed to have been around US$240m. Globally, the service has attracted 50m users.

So are the U2 boys Ireland’s most successful tech investors to date? That’s a hard one to argue because there are many worthy investors in technology in Ireland that no one hears about and some would like it to remain that way. But certainly Bono and the Edge have the highest profile, without a doubt.

Bono is set to enjoy a Beautiful (pay) Day when Facebook goes public. The rock star is one of the lead investors in Elevation Partners, a venture capital firm that spent more than €156m for a 1.5pc stake in the social network.

Elevation has seen its stake increase more than sevenfold in just more than two years. The shares are now worth between €1.1bn and €2bn.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years