Elevation Partners is most known for one of its investors, U2’s Bono, and it’s big time play with Palm. Now, the first one is good for the headlines but the second one, not so much. It appears as if Elevation is getting beyond its recent history as it invests $120 million in Facebook in the secondary market. This signals a change in the company and also could be a sign of the much vaunted Facebook IPO being a thing of the more distant future than many would like. TechCrunch reports
Elevation’s premature obituary is a popular story these days. Things haven’t worked out as planned for the firm—at all— but that’s not unique in the venture market these days, and the tide is turning for Elevation. The Palm-albatross is gone, and the firm didn’t lose money on the deal—not a trivial milestone considering it was 20% of the fund.
This turning tide is helping Facebook for sure. It’s interesting to see how these how these high dollar ‘investments’ take place because it appears as if you may need to know some people in some high places.
Facebook controls who buys its shares on the secondary market, and Elevation has tight ties with the company. Elevation founders Roger McNamee and Bono were personal investors in Facebook, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s brother-in-law is Mark Bodnick, another Elevation partner. This isn’t an accidental tie-up.
So even while Ms. Sandberg is proclaiming the end of e-mail she can at least give some reasonable advice to family members.
So what does this mean for the rest of us? Not much really unless you are thinking you have an inside track to any IPO upside for Facebook. If the company can keep generating revenue that has been rumored to be anywhere from $800 million to $1.3 billion recently and get chunks of investment like this there is not going to be a great rush to go IPO and lose much of the autonomy it currently has. Heck, if you did that you may have to put together policies that actually make sense!
It looks like for the foreseeable future Facebook is going to be sticking with things it can control like who gets to ‘buy-in’ on the secondary market. While this may be a discouraging thing to all of those Facebook employees looking for the IPO mother lode it’s very encouraging to those at the top of the Facebook food chain.
Now they only have to worry about the government dictating how they do business. Why introduce the rest of the world to the same possibility?