Is Bono, the BlackBerry pitchman, hurting Bono, the Palm investor?

Posted by: Adrienne Carter on July 21

Bono, the U2 lead singer, seems to be the latest pitchman for BlackBerry. His band’s latest album release, No Line on the Horizon, features prominently on the mobile device maker’s home page. The company also is sponsoring the band’s current tour.

But this deal seems like a conflict of interest, as peHUB Wire, a private equity industry newsletter, recently reported. After all, Bono is a managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners. Among the private equity firm’s biggest investments in its $1.9 billion portfolio: Palm, one of BlackBerry’s top rivals. The investment shop owns about 40% of Palm’s outstanding stock. Remember also that Bono was hawking Apple products before his BlackBerry gig, a point several readers pointed out.

As peHUB Wire writer, Dan Primack, puts it: “[Bono] might as well take out a fullpage ad in USA Today, saying: ‘If you’re going to switch to a smart phone, don’t bother with the Palm Pre.’” Put another way it’s akin to the CEO of Coca-Cola making a commercial for Pepsi, Microsoft hawking for Apple, or Tom sponsoring Jerry.

Ironically, Bono’s bet on Palm is the better one right now. Shares of Palm are up nearly 200% over the past 12 months. Research in Motion, which makes the BlackBerry devices, is down nearly 40%.

Reader Comments

Lisa

July 21, 2009 06:15 PM

you neglected to mention that bono was also a pitchman for apple and an earlier version of the ipod. recall the "vertigo" tv ads. did the blackberry marketing dept not know this?

The Universe

July 21, 2009 08:39 PM

I think the self-righteous Bono is the one causing the problems!

Manuel Bautista

July 21, 2009 08:44 PM

It could be that Bono's conduct could be explained in terms of portfolio diversification...

Jerome R

July 21, 2009 08:48 PM

Wasn't Bono on Apple commercials last year? Maybe the guy is to busy to keep up with who he promotes!

copacetic

July 21, 2009 08:57 PM

No matter what though, the out of date, unhip and hopelessly bloated entity out of all of this is actually U2.

A.W.

July 22, 2009 02:47 AM

Personally, I think Bono is a self serving, publicity seeking, ego-tripper, pretty much like Sir Richard B, who sees himself as an equal among the mighty and powerful , while pretending to be helping the needy .

Yes ,he draws attention to some serious issues that have been severely neglected,but I am somewhat sceptical still as to who he is really serving.

ankit

July 22, 2009 05:37 AM

NO comments

TLA

July 22, 2009 08:27 AM

Bono is over payed, out played, and to damn loud. Does anyone really care what he thinks about? Brainless musician, tell him to keep it that way!

CY

July 22, 2009 08:51 AM

I think there is way too much room in this market to be overly concerned that one company's success will be at the expense of another. If this were the case, then Apple would be dead and gone because of Microsoft's dominance in OS software.
Personal data/communications devices are an extremely dynamic growth industry, so diversified investment in the sector is sound. Would anyone have faulted investment in Apple and Microsoft in last 15 years?
Good for Bono to not be swayed by blind product loyalty or the media's insistence that there always be winners and losers.

E.E.

July 22, 2009 08:53 AM

In response to A.W.'s comment, I feel the same way about Bono's charity work. Many rich & famous people are very involved in charity and social projects, but keep it quiet and private which feels more genuine. May be Bono is deliberately trying to use all the fame & publicity for the greater good ?!

BH

July 22, 2009 08:58 AM

Who cares what Bono does, or does not do, and with, or without, which phone? Does he need more publicity?

G L O R I A

July 22, 2009 09:17 AM

BONO is the face of the his generations best rock band. Like an A list athlete or actor, people react differently to him when he walks down the street. He has managed to live with that inflated ego without an expected mistep. If U2 wants to promote NOKIA next year, so be it. If your a member or investor in elevation partners, then you got to take the good with the bad, but you shouldn't rely on BONO for anything short of trend spotting or networking. Looking forward to taking a picture of U2 in Chicago with my cheap Samsung phone.

Fickle

July 22, 2009 11:13 AM

Bono doesn't care what he promotes, just as long as his face is on something recognisable. Way to feed his ego even more by pretending his egomania and idiotic business practices are newsworthy.

PL

July 22, 2009 11:23 AM

Good for the businessman in him but sad for the U2 frontman that I thought he was.....

DM

July 22, 2009 12:22 PM

Bono simply needs to keep his egotistical opinions and actions to himself and stop trying to influence the United States govenment we don't need anymore pinheads steering our sinking ship. Wake up folks, nobody gives a rats donkey

RD

July 22, 2009 01:29 PM

wooow, some of y'all sound quite unintelligent, everyone is pointing out Bono as if he's the only one in the Blackberry ad or that iPod ad from a few years back...it's the whole band, it's called publicity, that's what bands do when they have a new album...and when it comes to charity and things like that, I believe Bono (and this time it is actually him and not the band) uses himself as the means for having problems heard, if we all just realized the issues that existed around us, maybe he and other celebrities wouldn't have to point it out to us...think about that then criticize him

BK

July 22, 2009 01:43 PM

Go Bono, and U2. Best, biggest band in the world.

Bk

July 22, 2009 01:51 PM

Did Bono make this big business decision on his own? Does he make all of the business decisions for the other 4 partners in U2 (Edge, Clayton, Mullen, & McGuinness?)

Gimme a break, what Bono does with his millions his Bono's business. What U2 does to promote their world tour and their most excellent recent album (No Line on the Horizon) is U2's business.

Apple was not in a position to make a decision to go with U2 on this tour due to Steve Jobs health issues. As the story goes, Jobs (still a very good friend of the band) - "Go to RIM. It might a better deal in terms of technology, money and overall timing for U2"

There is nothing more annoying than Bono critics... none of them can match what that man has done.

Jay

July 22, 2009 04:08 PM

Perhaps Bono realizes that BlackBerry is spending WAY too much money to sponsor U2's tour and knows it will hurt the comapny's performance. This way, he not only gets BlackBerry's money for his tour, but he ALSO helps the company sink so that his Palm shares will go up! genius!

Jay

July 22, 2009 04:08 PM

Perhaps Bono realizes that BlackBerry is spending WAY too much money to sponsor U2's tour and knows it will hurt the comapny's performance. This way, he not only gets BlackBerry's money for his tour, but he ALSO helps the company sink so that his Palm shares will go up! genius!

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BusinessWeek's Adrienne Carter, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and David Henry deconstruct the mysteries of high finance, Wall Street, and hedge funds for pros and ordinary investors. E-mail them directly if you've got tips about big deals, a hedge fund, or even securities industry gossip.

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