Skip to Content

Bono’s firm still hasn’t found what it’s looking for

The nation’s No. 4 business magazine recently published a rip-roaring-read of a profile of Roger McNamee, the famed technology investor. Like almost every journalist who’s been around Silicon Valley, I’ve known Roger for years. I even wrote a profile of him myself about a decade ago, in the San Jose Mercury News‘s defunct Sunday magazine, West. I’d link to it if I could find it.

The new profile is definitely worth reading. There’s rich detail on how McNamee was booted from Silver Lake, the private-equity firm he founded with three buddies; his new band, Moonalice; and the inner workings of his new firm, Elevation Partners, which McNamee founded with the philanthropist Bono.

The article has good tension, pointing out that Elevation may have bitten off more than it can chew by acquiring large stakes in Forbes Media, publisher of another competitor to Fortune, and Palm (PALM), the ailing gadget maker. Considering that Elevation stressed it’d be primarily about entertainment, the article does a good job of addressing the young firm’s strategic drift.

Portfolio (there, I said it) gave Elevation a free pass, however, on perhaps its most curious investment, Move (MOVE), the real estate Web company formerly known as While Forbes and Palm may yet turn out to be dogs, Move arguably already is in canine territory. I wrote in 2006 about how Move refused to die. Since then the company has moved a little closer to accomplishing the task. Elevation invested $100 million in November 2005, in preferred stock that converts at $4.20 per share and carries a 3 percent coupon. The stock trades for $2.30 today, putting Elevation seriously under water on its investment, and with the situation looking like its worsening, not improving.

Move, of course, has nothing to do with media or entertainment. Elevation’s stake currently is worth about $50 million. If the company doesn’t turn around, it most definitely will not be music to the ears of the investors Elevation Partners.