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.

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

1 Comment »

  • Comment by TRH — July 22, 2011 @ 7:23 am:

    “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.”

    Translation: Low capex, lean businesses – very attractive to investors as there are equity exits and trade sale markets. Largely employs highly educated knowledge workers (engineers who can code). However unless you know what Ruby is you need not apply.

    These are not engines for job growth and we can’t hold Groupon up and say “see, 7000 jobs in Chicago!” since 1) Groupon is the one in a million success story (plus look at Ann Arbor’s hundreds of high-tech firms, they don’t create jobs for the rank and file) and 2) I find it highly unlikely that that Groupon payroll has many folks that used to work on the line in Dearborn. None of these efforts are doing anything to address the current blight of the 700,000 of Detroit’s current residents. It demonstrates the level of disconnect with ground realities, and if Tom Friedman is correct (below), it’s probably a good recipe for class warfare:

    See Tom Friedman’s outstanding piece on this topic:

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