Dan Gilbert, one of the must successful businessmen in Detroit, has led a $40 million investment in RapGenius. Gilbert is best known for being the founder of Quicken Loans, co-founder of Detroit Venture Partners, and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers — which just brought LeBron James back to the team. Gilbert is best known RapGenius is known for decoding and annotating rap lyrics. RapGenius faced quite a bit of controversy for getting banned from Google by asking bloggers to link to them in exchange for a tweet about their website. RapGenius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam was recently fired for annotations he made about Elliot Rodger.
How did Gilbert become involved in RapGenius? RapGenius co-founder Ilan Zechory was attending a Detroit Lions game this past Thanksgiving. Both of Gilbert’s sons were with him at the game and had heard of RapGenius. They introduced him to Dan Gilbert and he was invited to Gilbert’s office the next week.
Zechory pitched RapGenius to Gilbert. Gilbert was impressed and asked to meet with all 3 co-founders in Cleveland. The talks led to an investment, but it was temporarily halted when the Google incident happened. RapGenius was removed from Google for a while.
After RapGenius overcame the issues, Gilbert offered to lead a $40 million investment, which valued the company at several hundred million. RapGenius kept the investment a secret until they were ready to rebrand to Genius.com. The Genius.com indicates that the brand is expanding well beyond annotating rap lyrics. It now annotates rock lyrics, pop lyrics, and poetry.