What does Dan Gilbert see in Internet pioneer Yahoo? – Detroit Free Press
Perhaps the biggest question arising from businessman Dan Gilbert’s surprise bid for YahooÂ is what would he do with it.
Buying a major Internet company likeÂ Yahoo would take Gilbert’s investments, which include real estate, casinos andÂ the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers,Â in a seemingly new direction.
Would Gilbert use Yahoo’s customer base of millions of users to advertise his mortgage business? Is he after Yahoo’s financial news section as a tie-in to his financial services?Â Is he hoping that he might one day expand his Jack Entertainment gaming business into online gambling?
“You’re looking for something where the price is pretty reasonable,” said Rick Edmonds, a media analyst with the Poynter Institute, a journalism resource group.Â “Yahoo has been out of favor becauseÂ it hasn’t been able to generate a lot of growth, but it’s got a giant base of users and customers. That’s a starting point, but beyond that I don’t know.”
What little is known of Gilbert’s bid came in recent days from legendary investor Warren Buffett, who told CNBC in an interview that heÂ could finance fellow billionaire Gilbert’s bid to buy Yahoo.
“I’m an enormous admirer of Dan and what he has accomplished in Quicken Loans,â Buffett told CNBC, the cable network reported over the weekend.Â âYahoo is not the type of thing I’d ever be an equity partner in. I don’t know the business and wouldn’t know how to evaluate it, but if Dan needed financing, with proper terms and protections, we would be a possible financing help.”
AnalyzingÂ Gilbert’s motives is difficult,Â in part because Gilbert’s spokespeople were not returning calls on the matter, and partly because heÂ could use Yahoo in several different ways.
As founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, Gilbert has made his fortune (estimated by Forbes magazine this year at $3.8 billion) inÂ the online mortgage loan industry. But he hasÂ expanded into many other fieldsÂ — owner of multiple casinos including Detroit’s Greektown Casino & Hotel, ownership of hisÂ roughly 90 properties in downtown Detroit and others in Cleveland.
Gilbert also has bankrolled a number of smaller technology start-ups, some housed in his M@dison Building in downtown Detroit, a formerly derelict structure he transformed into an incubator for creative tech firms.
On Friday, Reuters reportedÂ that Gilbert and Buffett are among investors vying for Yahoo’s Internet assets. On Saturday,Â the Financial TimesÂ reported a letter co-signed by Buffett and GilbertÂ expressed interest in the Internet group and said Buffett’s company,Â Berkshire Hathaway, was ready to provide debt financing for the deal.
The group of investors is in the second round of bidding in an auction of Yahoo’s assets, according to Reuters and Bloomberg News.
The Gilbert/Buffett bid is just one of several for Yahoo, various media have reported.
Yahoo wasÂ founded in 1994 by two Stanford students, Jerry Yang and David Filo. It is a digital media company and the third-largest search engine, butÂ its users and revenues have been declining.
Gilbert and Buffett have teamed up before. In 2014, Quicken Loans and Berkshire Hathaway joined forces to offer a $1-billion prize to anyone who could achieve a perfect bracket for every single game the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Nobody who participated managed to meet the challenge.
Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.