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No, Facebook did not make Bono world’s richest musician

May 18, 2012

FORTUNE -- There have been a lot of silly things written about Facebook (fb) in the past 24 hours, but this item over at HuffingtonPost takes the cake:



Of course, HuffPo was not alone. Similar sophistry was posted at MSN, music blog NME and, most egregiously, on NASDAQ's own website.

Here's the reality: Bono is a partner with Elevation Partners, a private equity firm that invested around $210 million into Facebook in 2009 and 2010. At $38 per share, the position is valued at approximately $1.5 billion (including around $175m sold during the IPO).

But that doesn't mean Bono "could stand to make up to $1.5 billion off the widely anticipated IPO." Not even close.

First, Bono was one of just six founding partners of Elevation Partners. So, at best he'd get $216 million (once the original investment is subtracted). But then you have to realize that Elevation only receives 20% of the profits on its deal, with the rest going to its limited partners. So, suddenly, Bono's take is down to $43 million.

Finally, Elevation's debut fund featured an 8% preferred return. That means Elevation's $1.9 billion debut fund must already have returned more than $2 billion before any of its partners begin collecting any profit whatsoever. It probably got there, thanks to Facebook and Yelp (yelp), but it should still be factored into the equation.

So, again, at best Bono gets $43 million. Or, in other words, just more than Britney Spears will make for two years of judging The X Factor. Let alone Paul McCartney's reported $1.04 billion net worth. Clearly Facebook has been good to Bono, but not nearly as good as is being portrayed...

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