From basketball to hip hop: Billionaire Dan Gilbert invests $40M in Rap Genius

Dan Gilbert, via Facebook
Dan Gilbert, via Facebook

Billionaire investor Dan Gilbert owns more than 50 properties in downtown Detroit. He also owns casinos, Quicken Loans and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now Gilbert has jumped into the hip hop scene.

Business Insider reports today that Gilbert invested $40 million in Rap Genius, a popular website that decodes and annotates rap lyrics.  The site is reportedly worth $400 million.
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The story of Gilbert’s unlikely involvement in the site began on Thanksgiving, when his teenage son, Nick Gilbert, met one of Rap Genius’ founders, Ilan Zechory, at a Cleveland Cavaliers game. Zechory, who is from Detroit, was visiting family for Thanksgiving.

Nick Gilbert, a fan of the site, invited Zechory to his office in downtown Detroit.

Zechory was greeted by Dan Gilbert and a team of executives who were interested and wanted to hear about Rap Genius, according to Business Insider.

Impressed, Gilbert arranged for another meeting in Cleveland with the other founders.

Gilbert appeared to be ready to invest until a scandal broke out at Rap Genius in late December when it was discovered the site was violating Google’s rules by offering incentives for people to post the site’s address on their pages. Google temporarily removed the site from its search engine, causing  traffic to plummet.
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After deleting the errant links and apologizing, Rap Genius was returned to Google.

The site hit another setback this year after one of the founders made offensive annotations after posting mass murderer Elliot Rodger’s 141-page manifesto. Co-founder Mahbod Moghadam resigned.
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According to Business Insider, Gilbert offered the $40 million investment in February. The news was kept silent to coincide with the announcement of the site’s new domain name,

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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