I ran across an interesting article on the Irish web-site, Joe.ie today. The article highlights how much money U2 have recently made on Facebook. Apparently U2 owns 1.5% of Facebook, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize how much that time sucking web-site is worth. Last year, 1.5% of Facebook cost U2 $210 million. Today that 1.5% is worth $750 million! It’s good to be U2. The article also mentions that u2 made out pretty well having invested in Palm, which has been purchased by HP.
What is fascinating is that few artists have the ability to invest like U2, but when an artist can, maybe those artists are able to tap into, and thus help to move society in ways that their music cannot. I doubt that any of U2 music, up to this point at least, has in anyway influenced Facebook. But I have no doubt that their money has.
So what can we learn from this? Maybe investing in ideas that are positive (not that Facebook is positive!) is a way to create change in the world. Obviously there are socially conscious investing groups out there and there seems to be a trend with those types of funds growing.
The problem becomes can fundamental change happen quickly by working within the system? Given our recent track record—I’d say the answer is no. But maybe investing in a responsible way, is the least we can do. I wonder what the Rolling Stones’ portfolio looks like?