In the annals of celebrities investing in tech startups, this one’s looking especially smart. Bono and The Edge, the singer and lead guitarist of Irish rock band U2, got into Dropbox’s $250 million second round last year, they said in a tweet today.
It’s the first individual, publicly announced startup investment for the vocalist, to our knowledge. And unlike grandly-conceived social media startups or late-stage investments that celebrities have gone after in recent years, Dropbox is still in its early days. I imagine some khakis-and-blue-shirt VCs are a little jealous of the multiples ahead.
Bono, of course, has something of a track record in tech investing already. He’s the co-founder and managing director of Elevation Partners, which has bet widely over the years with money in Palm, Forbes, gaming companies, Yelp and Facebook. Never mind some of those others, results from the last two have inspired the team to go raise a new $1 billion investment fund, according to reports.
But until now, Bono’s role has been more high-level, not so much in sourcing deals with the latest startups growing out of the Valley floor. The Dropbox investment — and the backstory — suggest that this is could change. Bono and The Edge seem to have gotten into the deal via a relationship that developed years ago, in a different era.
Back in 2007, entrepreneur brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi had just launched a fast-growing music app called iLike on Facebook. They had a new feature they wanted to launch, a way for artists to post videos to fans through the app, so they went through some mutual friends to reach out to U2. The result: a video interview with Bono and the band about a previously-unreleased track, Wave of Sorrow.
The relationship has developed from there, it appears. The Partovis were early angel investors in Dropbox, and have maintained contact. Judging from the photo recently posted to Twitter, they introduced the band members to founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi.
Even if Bono doesn’t get deeper into other early-stage companies, he has a lot of work left here — doing follow on rounds on Dropbox, possibly via Elevation.