First, the vitals: Dan Gilbert … 52 years old … attended Michigan State and Wayne State (law school) … net worth: $3.8 billion (according to Forbes) … is on Twitter:
My 8-year-old: “Daddy, does this mean I can finally wear my Lebron jersey, again?”…Yes it does, son. Yes it does!
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) July 11, 2014
(Sidebar: How does the kid’s jersey still fit after four years? It should be too small now, right? Also, are you seriously telling me that Dan Gilbert’s kid didn’t burn his LeBron jersey? Come on, Dan. Let’s be real.)
Everyone caught up on the basics? Cool, let’s turn to the numbers.
“It’s been a long, long dream,” Gilbert said after the Cavs sale, according to the Associated Press.
“It’s kind of the typical thing,” Gilbert told the Cleveland Scene in 2006. “You realize in high school, ‘Most likely I’m not going to be a professional athlete. So one day, I’ll buy a team.'”
The year after losing James the value of the Cavaliers fell 26%, to $355 million. The Cavaliers were terrible on the court and the team’s local television ratings plummeted 55%. The next year Cleveland’s value dropped another 7%, to $329 million. And the Cavaliers have been lowering their ticket prices to deal with declining attendance.Alas, Gilbert is still worth $1.5 billion. But he’d be worth a lot more if James was still a Cavalier. And [Miami Heat owner Mickey] Arison would be worth much less than $4.7 billion.
Then there’s Fathead, the company that sells life-size wall decals and is part of Gilbert’s Rock Ventures. Although you might already know about Gilbert’s involvement with Fathead because of this: “LeBron James Fathead Price Cut Is Sparked by Birthyear of Benedict Arnold.”
Like so many good stories, Dan Gilbert’s begins with pizza.
“I still claim I hold the worldwide record — 78 pizzas delivered in one night,” Gilbert told ESPN in 2007. “I still ask pizza guys today, I say, ‘What’s your record? 55? 57?’ And then I tell them I once did 78.”
Gilbert reportedly saved about $5,000 from his college pizza delivery career and used it to start a mortgage company in the mid-’80s. That company grew and expanded online; Gilbert’s Rock Financial was then purchased by Intuit, a software company.
Gilbert remained CEO of the renamed Quicken Loans and eventually bought the company back. It’s now the largest online home lender in the country.
“My last semester at college, I only had classes from 8 to 10, then I’d deliver pizzas to office buildings from 11 till 2, and then I’d go take a nap with 150 bucks in my pocket,” Gilbert told ESPN. “But it wasn’t about money for me, I wanted to build. Build businesses, houses, create stuff. For me, and I think this is a secret for a lot of people, if you want to get wealthy you can’t chase money to get wealthy. If you build something, the money will follow you. That’s what happens.”
Quicken Loans is headquartered in Detroit and has about 10,000 employees.
Hey, about Detroit …
Right! Detroit. Gilbert’s connection with the city runs deep, so we’ll direct you to two New York Times features and let them take it from here:
Gilbert also spoke to Forbes about his relationship with Detroit in 2012. You can check out that video below:
Here’s Business Insider, explaining how that developed:
While visiting his parents in Detroit for Thanksgiving, [co-founder Ilan Zechory] wound up attending a Detroit Lions game with a friend. Zechory’s friend spotted the teenage son of Dan Gilbert, the billionaire owner of Quicken Loans and the Cleveland Cavaliers.At halftime they went over to say hi. Both of Gilbert’s sons knew what Rap Genius was. Gilbert and Zechory started comparing notes about communicating with employees in a rapidly growing company. Gilbert talked about his “-ISMs,” sayings that he drilled into every new employee at all his companies. One is “a penny saved is a penny.” Another: “You have to take the roast out of the oven.”Gilbert invited Zechory to come to his office the following Monday to learn about some of the investments he’d been making in downtown Detroit. That Monday, Ilan showed up with his grandfather. Gilbert showed up with a team of executives. It seemed Gilbert had an ulterior motive: to kick the tires on Rap Genius.
The local angle
What, did you think we wouldn’t find one?
Before bids were due, Maryland regulators “relaxed a rule designed to keep people with past gambling transgressions from winning licenses to operate such facilities.” The rule change, The Post reported at the time, helped Gilbert “who was arrested in 1981, while a student at Michigan State University, in connection with an alleged sports bookmaking operation that reportedly threatened violence against some who had gambling debts. Gilbert was not convicted and his record was expunged, but according to published reports, he was fined, put on probation and given community service.”
Can we end with something fun, please?
Okay, sure. Here’s Warren Buffett and Dan Gilbert with Seth Meyers. They are talking about both money and sports, so it totally works.