Choose Thinking: A Blog by Dan Gilbert

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

- Rudyard Kipling

July 21, 2011

Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Joins Dan Gilbert in Detroit Venture Partners

Magic Johnson Joins Detroit Venture Partners

Entrepreneur and NBA Hall of Famer to join venture capital firm launching tech companies in Detroit.

DETROIT, July 21, 2011Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Hall of Fame NBA star, philanthropist and entrepreneur, announced today he will join Detroit Venture Partners (DVP) as a general partner. DVP is a Detroit-based venture capital firm that invests in seed and early-stage technology companies primarily located in the heart of downtown Detroit. Mr. Johnson will also be investing millions of dollars into the fund itself.

Detroit Venture Partners was launched in 2010 by entrepreneurs Josh Linkner, Founder & Chairman of ePrize; Dan Gilbert, Founder & Chairman of Quicken Loans and Majority Owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers; and Brian Hermelin, Founder & Chairman of the private equity firm Rockbridge Growth Equity.

Magic, a Lansing, Michigan native who played basketball for Michigan State University before being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, said:

I am investing in Detroit Venture Partners and the City of Detroit because I want to have a positive impact on the biggest downtown in my home state. I believe strongly in the Detroit 2.0 movement and creating opportunities to help people get back to work.

Dan, Josh and Brian share my core values and are approaching their venture investing with the ‘hands on’ style I am familiar with because that is how I do business.

DVP is well on its way, already investing in six of the 12 companies it expects to fund in 2011. In the next several years, DVP plans to impact Detroit by investing in early stage companies who are expected to create numerous jobs, bring significant economic activity and occupy substantial amounts of office space in downtown Detroit.

Linkner, CEO and Managing Partner of DVP, said:

Earvin brings so much to the DVP team – entrepreneurial experience, a passion for Detroit and Michigan, additional capital to fund businesses, and the well-respected Magic brand.

Gilbert added:

There is absolutely nothing more important than transforming Detroit to an exciting place for young, eager, wealth-creating entrepreneurs to embark on their business journeys. More and more great people, investors and businesses are joining the initiative to build something very special downtown every single day. And Magic’s involvement will only accelerate this process further and faster.

DVP, along with some of the businesses it invests in, will be located in Gilbert’s downtown Detroit Madison Theatre Building, which is currently being transformed into a hub where tech and creative companies can collaborate and innovate.

DVP is “all digital” – with investments exclusively in the areas of digital media, software, cloud computing, e-commerce, marketing technology, mobile apps, internet and social.

The company’s investments include:

  • FLUD, a news-reader application for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, based in San Diego, California with plans to launch a business development office in Detroit
  • Hired My Way, a Birmingham, Michigan-based company that better connects job seekers and employers
  • Are You a Human?, a Detroit-based business providing a better alternative to the difficult-to-read internet form “CAPTCHA”
  • Detroit Labs, building Web, iOS, and Android applications for businesses ranging from local start-ups to Fortune 500 Companies, with offices in Detroit
  • Gumshoe, based in Detroit, is an alternative reality game of Clue right in your back pocket where players compete against friends and a community of sleuths to solve mysteries
  • Favers, a Detroit company providing a social shopping platform for specialty retailers where consumers can share the products they “like” – plus “follow their faves” to get instant product updates

In addition to DVP, the real estate arm of Magic Johnson Enterprises is in talks with Gilbert’s real estate partnership, Bedrock Real Estate Services, exploring potential investments in downtown Detroit real estate.

By: in Business & Entrepreneurship, Detroit 2.0 | Comments (1)


July 17, 2011

Detroit 2.0: It's Real and It's Happening Now

Let’s talk Detroit.

As you may have read, we (as in our entire organization from top to bottom) are like the pig at breakfast when it comes to Motown:

Fully committed.

Or as those who play Texas Hold Em’ like to say:

“All in.”

Why?

  1. Because we live here and work here (and we’re here, anyway).
  2. Because if we (as in all of us in SE Michigan) don’t create a safe, lively, exciting, technology-focused urban core that brings hope through new (and old) entrepreneurial companies that serve as a magnet for young, smart professionals, the vast majority of whom have made crystal clear they want the experience of living, working and playing in a cool downtown oozing with OPPORTUNITY, then just say “sayonara” to an entire generation of would-be “Detroiters” and “Michiganders.”

And this time, we can turn out the lights for good. (If the electric company doesn’t already do us the favor because we won’t be able to pay our bills.)

It’s not only a generation we are trying to save from fleeing to the likes of Chicago, NY, San Francisco, Boston or South Beach (God forbid!).

It’s THE generation that will and is already creating the most amount of wealth in the shortest period of time of any generation since Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal men walked the earth.

Don’t believe me?

Say “Groupon.”

Groupon was created in the fall of 2008. That’s less than 36 months ago or after most of you signed your last car lease.

In other words, your current automobile (hopefully, an American one) is older than this little company.

Little?

Well, they will likely be public in less than six weeks or so at a “little” 25 BILLION dollar or more market capitalization.

That’s a higher market value than each of these “big” companies:

  • Staples
  • Kellogg
  • Alcoa
  • Gap
  • Sears
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Nordstrom
  • Campbell’s
  • Hershey’s
  • DTE Energy
  • Pitney Bowes
  • Whirlpool

And bigger than the COMBINED market value of Penske, Compuware, Comerica, Lear, Masco, and Goodyear.

In less than three years.

And not only is Groupon creating thousands of new jobs, but they are also creating an entrepreneurial, urban-based, downtown hotbed of spin-off companies and other start-ups near their headquarters located in:

Chicago, Illinois.

Where were two of the three founders of Groupon (who together control over 30 percent of the company) born and raised?

Detroit (and its close suburbs).

Where did they go to college?

University of Michigan.

Who paid for their college?

Partially you, me and every other state of Michigan taxpayer.

Why did they move outside of Detroit and SE Michigan?

Because, back around the turn of the century, downtown Detroit simply was not the place that any Internet- or technology-focused entrepreneur was going to set up shop. This was the same time Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell were beginning down their entrepreneurial paths creating the start-up companies that eventually led them to the launch of Groupon.

Did Detroit and SE Michigan miss out on this one?

Only to the extent that you believe hyper-growth, 25 billion dollar, e-commerce, entrepreneurial, job-creating machines that will further sprout an entire
eco-system of additional start-up, new economy businesses around it should be located in the downtown center of your city.

There is absolutely nothing more important than former rust-belt, manufacturing-dependent, major urban cities like Detroit and Cleveland to become attractive, exciting places for young, eager, wealth-creating entrepreneurs to embark on their business journeys.

How tragic is it that some of the highly talented people who are now doing exactly that in other cities and states not only grew up in the cities that need them most, but were educated by the public universities that the taxpayers of our state partially pay for?

We must create an environment that keeps them here.

That environment is a downtown that is hustling and bustling with young technology-focused people who can find cool lofts to live in, abundant retail and entertainment options close by, safe streets day and night, and most importantly, numerous
start-up and growing entrepreneurial companies where opportunity is endless and creative minds are free to collaborate and do what they do best:

CREATE!

That’s why we are investing heavily into downtown Detroit (and Cleveland as well).

So much is happening. More and more great people, investors and businesses are joining the initiative to build something very special downtown every single day.

It’s happening fast folks. And it’s happening now.

Detroit 2.0 is real.

We can’t afford to lose the next Groupon, created by our own kids coming out of our own universities, to some other town.

How do you measure that kind of loss (or gain) on a spreadsheet?!

Although there have been some major announcements and excitement over the past year or so, the best is yet to come for downtown Detroit.

My gut is we haven’t even scratched the scratch on the surface.

Stay tuned…

-Dan Gilbert

By: in Business & Entrepreneurship, Detroit 2.0 | Comments (40)


December 20, 2010

25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years

Our Quicken Loans family celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. For a quarter century, Quicken Loans has helped more than one million American families in all 50 states realize the dream of homeownership.

In the past quarter century, I have made my share of mistakes and have learned a few things along the way as well.

At a recent all company “huddle,” I gave a 29 minute talk to more than 4,000 of our team members in downtown Detroit, where I presented, “25 things I’ve learned in 25 years.”

For better or for worse, here they are.

Hope you enjoy them…

-Dan G.

#25

Comic Sans…

If you don’t like it, then don’t frickin’ read it.

#24

Throw a curveball once in a while and your fastball will work WAYYY better.

#23

Silo thinking is poison.

#22

Things aren’t always as they seem…

GO DEEEEEEP!!!

#21

The difference between poison and medicine is the dose.

#20

Spreadsheets measure.

They do NOT create.

#19

Winning the hard stuff does not make the easy stuff easy.

#18

You don’t choose the cards.

Play the ones you have been dealt.

#17

Give what the greedy man won’t

and you will get what the greedy man wants.

#16

Write it down.

#15

The one who tells you there is food on your face is your friend.

#14

You now need 5 things to survive…

1. Air

2. Food

3. Water

4. Shelter

5. Technology

#13

If your ideas are any good,

you’re gonna have to shove them down people’s throats.

#12

The price of knowing is too high.

#11

Nothing clarifies like clarity.

#10

You affect the outcome.

(If you choose to do so, that is.)

#9

There is always a plan B.

Find it.

#8

The answers are easy.

Asking the right questions is the hard part.

#7

Melt the “Abominable NO-man”

or be frozen forever.

#6

Simplify it and you will be paid a lot of dough.

#5

Building anything great is messy.

#4

You can’t go WRONG

doing the RIGHT thing.

#3

What’s the name of the cleaning person?

Better find out.

#2

We are in the Downtown Detroit and Cleveland rebuilding business…

And business is a-boomin!!!

#1

The words need music.

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October 27, 2010

Cleveland, The Mission Has Not Changed

I apologize for my absence, but I’m back and ready to blog! To kick off this fresh start, I’d like to share with you a letter I wrote to Cleveland fans, which will be included inside our Tipoff magazine and distributed to everyone who attends the Cleveland Cavaliers 2010-11 season home opener tonight at The Q:

Tipoff Tonight

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; make it hot by striking.”
– William B. Sprague

Cleveland,

The mission has not changed.

In fact, the level of energy, motivation and determination by those of us in every part of your Cleveland Cavaliers franchise has never been higher or stronger.

We will play to win.

Every season. Every game. Every minute.

Why?

You.

The thousands of emails, letters, notes, phone calls and words of support you shared with us this past summer has fueled every one of us with a further heightened sense of will-power and grit to deliver the incredibly loyal and passionate fans of the Cavaliers the ultimate prize.

That prize is an NBA championship.

No fan base deserves it more.

No city deserves it more.

Words will never express the gratitude and appreciation for the overwhelming support and confidence you showered upon this franchise over the past few months.

There will be nothing we do not explore.

There will be no amount of time, capital, brain-power or ingenuity we will not invest if we believe it will contribute to our chances of success.

The train has left. It will not stop until it pulls into “Larry O’Brien Station #1.”

I am looking forward to enjoying the ride with you.

Onward and upward.

Dan

Dan Gilbert
Chairman
Cavaliers Ownership Team
Twitter: @CavsDan

Cleveland Cavaliers: All for One, One for All

###

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July 16, 2009

A New Addition to the "Family" of Companies: StyleCaster

I’d like to introduce you to the newest addition to our “family” of companies and the future of style and fashion: StyleCaster.

StyleCaster is a new website that will change the way you look at fashion.  It’s your very own 24/7 personal shopper that gives you personalized style tips, the low-down on the latest fashion trends, access to a large catalog of cool clothes and the ability to buy your favorite items with a few clicks of your mouse.

StyleCaster.com Home PageThe best part? StyleCaster doesn’t tell you what’s fashionable based on the latest runway style or celebrity endorsement, it actually learns from YOU and serves up outfit ideas, product suggestions and premium content from the top fashion editors and stylists based on YOUR tastes.

How does StyleCaster know what you like? Here’s the magic: With every click and every choice you make on the site, StyleCaster pays attention and remembers for next time. The more you interact, the more your fashion profile grows, offering you a super customized experience and bringing you closer to the styles you want most.

In addition to knowing your tastes, the website serves up outfit recommendations appropriate for the weather in your area (yes, it knows that too). It not only connects you with people who have similar ideas of fashion as you, but you’ll also become part of a social community where you can swap ideas, inspiration and advice with top fashion editors, stylists, models and trend-setters.

We’ve previewed the website to a few select media and fashion insiders, and the response has been AMAZING. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

  • W Magazine: “Its combination of big money, big talk and big ideas seems to have scored points among the fashion set.”
  • ShopBop: “This is the stuff of fashion fantasy, and StyleCaster is making it a reality.”
  • WalletPop: “A free personal stylist, only nicer… StyleCaster will provide you with the dream cyber closet of ideas and network you with stylists, models, and other fashionistas with similar tastes. It’s Facebook meets Elle.”
  • GlamChic: “Stylecaster is essentially catering to every woman’s guilty pleasures and taking you inside the fictitious closets of fashion’s top influencers. And as fun as it is to rummage through your friends’ closets, it’s far more fun to peek inside those of seasoned professionals, like famed celebrity stylist Annabel Tollman and editors Meg Cuna and Carol Han, or to browse through the picks of creative novices with tremendous flair.”

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July 15, 2009

Detroit, Here We Come!

Compuware Building, Downtown DetroitThe halls of Quicken Loans are abuzz this week with the news that the company will move its headquarters and about 1,700 team members to the Compuware Building in Detroit by mid-2010. The move will come two years earlier than originally planned.

In late 2007, our company pledged to move its headquarters into a newly constructed building downtown to be completed by 2012. However, given the turmoil in the economy, obtaining commercial financing for such a large-scale project has become extremely difficult.

So instead, we’re “quickening” our timeline, moving into One Campus Martius with the goal to eventually construct our own building.

“We pledge to fulfill our commitment to the city,” said Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans. “This is an interim step that allows us to begin transforming Detroit into a high-tech hub of business and ingenuity.”

Making the move… Detroit, here we come!

Find out more about Quicken Loans moving to Detroit.

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July 2, 2009

Cleveland Cavaliers #1 NBA Team in ESPN The Magazine's 2009 Ultimate Standings

Our very own Cleveland Cavaliers were ranked the #1 team in the NBA and the #5 team in all pro sports in ESPN The Magazine’s 2009 Ultimate Standings, which measures how the 122 pro sports franchises (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) give back to their fans.

The Ultimate Standings, now in its seventh year, ranks each team based on eight categories: bang for the buck, fan relations, ownership, affordability, stadium experience, players, coaching and title track. The Los Angeles Angels (MLB) grabbed the #1 spot overall.

Click here for more information on the Ultimate Standings categories or to read the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Ultimate Standings profile.

Congratulations Cavs! And THANK YOU CAVS FANS!

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June 25, 2009

It's Official! Shaquille O'Neal Becomes a Cleveland Cavalier

It’s been the source of rumor in the sports world for weeks now. Would 15-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal join LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers? And today, we finally have our answer. The Cavs have officially acquired center Shaquille O’Neal from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for forward/center Ben Wallace, guard/forward Sasha Pavlovic, Cleveland’s second round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and cash considerations, General Manager Danny Ferry announced today.

“It is a really unique and rare opportunity to bring in a player of Shaq’s caliber. We are excited to see how his presence, experience and play positively impacts our team,” Ferry said. “We truly appreciate all that Ben and Sasha gave to this team and community in their time here. They were good teammates and we wish them nothing but success.”

I’m sure I speak for a lot of Cavs fans when I say, welcome to the family Shaq!

Click here for more on Shaq joining the Cavs.

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June 1, 2009

Lessons of A Golden Gut

Dan Gilbert talks to the Kauffman Foundation about entrepreneurialism, “creating” and his Detroit-based entrepreneurial academy Bizdom U.

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April 20, 2009

In the News: Bizdom U Populates Detroit with Budding Entrepreneurs

Although our economy is struggling and our jobless rates continue to rise, a “silver lining” can still be found in the City of Detroit. Enter Bizdom U, an entrepreneurial academy started by Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert that teaches budding entrepreneurs the ins and outs of business from a real-world perspective. The reward — for both the students and the City — is funding and support for new businesses that call Detroit home.

Featured today as the cover story in USA Today’s Money section, the Bizdom U program has already yielded five new Detroit-based businesses and may serve as a model for similar entrepreneurial programs in other parts of the country.

“Entrepreneurs — not government programs — create businesses, jobs and growth for a city,” said Bizdom U founder and Detroit native Dan Gilbert.

While some may caution budding entrepreneurs in these tough economic times, Bizdom’s Executive Director Ross Sanders sees things differently. “These are times when entrepreneurs see opportunities that others do not. As companies downsize, this is about creating jobs and wealth in urban areas. We want brain gain, not brain drain.”

Read the USA Today article: Detroit’s Bizdom U course build entrepreneurs.

CBS News also covered the story, explaining how Bizdom U is contributing jobs, optimism and an entrepreneurial spirit to “The D.” Check out the video below:

Watch CBS Videos Online

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