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NBA legend Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson this morning announced that he is joining and investing in Detroit Venture Partners, a VC firm that invests in seed and early-stage technology companies primarily located in the heart of downtown Detroit, as its fourth general partner.
The Hall of Fame basketball star will be working with the founders of the firm, namely Quicken Loans founder (and Cleveland Cavaliers owner) Dan Gilbert, ePrize founder Josh Linkner and investor Brian Hermelin, and invest ‘millions of dollars’ in the fund, according to the PR.
Detroit Venture Partners was established in 2010 and has made investments in startups like Are You A Human, FLUD News, Stylecaster and Sociocast. The fund will invest exclusively in digital media, mobile app development, cloud computing, e-commerce and social networking companies.
Magic, who played basketball for Michigan State University before being drafted by the LA Lakers, in a statement says he believes strongly in the “Detroit 2.0 movement”.
I’m not entirely sure what that means, but according to the LA Times, Johnson is referring to the initiative launched by Dan Gilbert in which he relocated Quicken Loans and its 1,700 workers to the Detroit suburbs.
Detroit Venture Partners, along with some of its portfolio companies, will be located in Gilbert’s downtown Detroit Madison Theatre Building, which is currently being transformed into an coworking / incubator hub where tech companies can work together.
Magic Johnson joins Dan Gilbert, Josh Linkner in Detroit Venture Partners investment fund (Via Mlive.com)
Magic Johnson announced today that he’s investing in Detroit Venture Partners (DVP), a local high-tech venture capital fund led by ePrize’s Josh Linkner and Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert, at an event this morning in Quicken’s downtown offices in the Compuware Building.
Johnson said when he was raising funds for Mayor Dave Bing’s campaign, Bing challenged him to come and invest in Detroit. Johnson told the crowd today that this partnership with DVP is his way of making good on the promise to Bing, whom he called a hero and mentor.
“The only reason I’m a businessman is because of Bing Steel,” said Johnson. “He set the example. You could wear the little, tight shorts, and from that from that you could also wear a suit and become a businessman.”
Bing welcomed his fellow NBA Hall of Famer’s commitment to Detroit, calling this investment the “the beginning of a real love affair.”
“You guys love Detroit,” said Bing. “There are a lot of people in this room who probably don’t know Detroit as well as we do. But those of you who are newcomers, I can guarantee you, you’re going to fall in love with this city also.”
Linkner described the DVP strategy as “full contact investing,” providing not just funding, but mentoring and networking resources.
Linkner said securities regulations prevent DVP from publicly disclosing the size of the fund, but he said their goal is to invest in 12-15 new ventures annually, offering each on up to $3 million.
“We are funding and investing in seed and early-stage technology companies, start-ups,” said Linkner. “They, in turn, will grow and create jobs and hope for the city of Detroit. That’s exactly what we’re all about. We’re on a mission to transform Detroit into a technology hub. We hope to make a difference through entrepreneurial fire. We have an all-digital strategy. The types of things we’ll invest in are social media, mobile apps, cloud computing, internet, ecommerce.”
Detroit Venture Partners was founded by Gilbert and Linkner in 2009. Linkner cited DVP’s investment in the local firm Are You a Human? as an early DVP success.