As a life-long Michigander, I’m very pleased to announce the Midwest will be well represented at Disrupt SF 2014. Detroit’s own Dan Gilbert will join me on stage for a fireside chat where we’ll talk about his ongoing plan to revive Detroit through startups and technology. I’m sure he also has some NBA protips for Ballmer.
Dan Gilbert is one of the more outspoken individuals attempting to revitalize Detroit. Gilbert is the founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, plus the majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
Born in the city and raised in the surrounding region, Gilbert never left the area. In 2010 he moved his company, Quicken Loans, and its 3,800 employees to the center of Detroit. Since then, Quicken Loans and its family of companies has grown to over 12,000 employees, all working in the downtown area .
Gilbert’s enthusiasm and rapid acquisition of Detroit’s skyscrapers and nearly whole city blocks has drawn criticism from some. His real estate company owns over 60 buildings in downtown Detroit. Some view his work as whitewashing while others state his land grab is bad for the city by raising the rent in the downtown region.
Still, at least Gilbert is doing something and is encouraging startups from around the country to consider Detroit. Move to Detroit and make a difference, he told me in a previous interview.
Dan has long used startups to fuel his company’s and the region’s growth. With the goal of retaining the state’s talent and bringing more young companies to Detroit, he founded startup accelerator Bizdom in 2007 and Detroit Venture Partners in 2010.
Most recently, Gilbert lead Rap Genius’ $40 million Series B round after meeting the founders at a Detroit Lions game last Thanksgiving.
Gilbert joins Disrupt SF’s impressive roster of speakers, which includes Marc Benioff, Vinod Khosla, Mark Cuban and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen. Best of all, we still have some speakers to announce.
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