Bono, the Irish rock star, has put significant money into Elevation Partners, arguably the worst run institutional fund of any size in the United States. Bono is listed as one of the five members of the firm’s investment team. The fund claims that its “mission is to help media and entertainment businesses develop and market great content.” In the process, it has made an unprecedented string of disastrous investments which even bad luck could not explain.
The most well-known of the Elevation investments is Palm (PALM) which made a completely unsuccessful run at the smartphone business dominated by Apple (AAPL), RIM (RIMM), and handsets powered by the Google (GOOG) mobile operating system known as Android. Wall St. had hoped that Palm’s new line of Pre handsets would allow the company to be a modest competitor in the industry. It has, instead, burned through large amounts of money and, ,by its own admission, is in trouble as it tries to reach what were fairly modest sales goals. Elevation was recently quoted by Reuters that it still has faith in Palm, a company in which it bought a 25% stake in 2007. It is astonishing that Elevation would publicly say it still has faith in a company which is close to non-existence. The results of Palm’s latest earnings release drove its shares down to $3.65. The stock traded at over $18 last September. Elevation has a total of $460 million in Palm. Whitney Tilson, managing partner of T2 Partners, a New York-based hedge fund, recently told MarketWatch, in reference to Palm, “There is a 90% chance that they go bankrupt or get acquired within a year.”