Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Joins Detroit Venture Partners

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Earvin “Magic” Johnson — Lansing native, Michigan State University and NBA Hall of Fame basketball star, philanthropist and entrepreneur — announced Thursday  he will join Detroit Venture Partners 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.

Johnson will also be investing an unspecified amount into the fund described as “millions of dollars.”

Detroit Venture Partners was launched in 2010 by entrepreneurs Josh Linker, founder and chairman of ePrize LLC; Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans Inc. and majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers; and Brian Hermelin, founder and chairman of the private equity firm Rockbridge Growth Equity. DVP finances and lends operational expertise to budding entrepreneurs who bring high-potential business opportunities.

“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,” Johnson said. “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 so far has invested in six of the 12 companies it expects to fund in 2011. In the next several years, DVP plans to invest in early stage companies that are expected to create numerous jobs, bring significant economic activity and occupy substantial amounts of office space in downtown Detroit.

“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,” said Linkner, CEO and managing partner of DVP.

“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,” said Gilbert.  “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, and soon to launch a business development office in Detroit.
* HiredMyWay, a Birmingham 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.

More at www.detroitventurepartners.com.

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