Say what you want about Bono, he deserves to be the smuggest person in the world today after news emerged yesterday of his return on an early investment in a little company called Facebook. The U2 frontman and Dubliner has raked in a billion dollar payment after investing $86 million in the start-up in 2009, according to The New York Post. Cue about a billion Beautiful Day puns.
In 2009, Bono secured a 2.3% share in Facebook alongside five other investors for $86 million. A year later his investment group, Elevation Partners, purchased $120 million more shares in the social network. The return on such investing six years later? $1.4 billion. Bono can personally take home $43 million as his share – so those billion-dollar-payout-and-richest-musician-alive headlines you’re seeing are a little bit hyperbolic.
Bono may not be considered richer than Sir Paul McCartney and artists such as Beyoncé and Madonna, but he’s displaying a corporate savvy that may see him joining their ranks soon enough. Like Dr. Dre, he’s looked to technology in order to increase his wealth. The hip-hop singer sold his headphones company Beats to Apple for $3 billion last year, and he’s now worth around $700 million.
In recent years, Bono and his bandmates’ handling of their tax payments have led to criticism from significant swathes of the Irish population. One of the band’s companies managed to dodge paying tax to Ireland by moving operations to the Netherlands in 2006. This was a response to a cap on the artist tax relief scheme which sees certain artists not paying tax on some of their works’ profits.
The controversy has seen campaigners show up at U2’s concerts with placards. On some occasions there have even been skirmishes with security at these events. The 55-year-old has been accused of hyprocrisy in light of his involvement with various campaigns calling for debt relief in third world countries. Bono has excused his financial choices by saying that he didn’t have to be ‘stupid’ in business and could still campaign for a politically and financially fairer society.