Photo: Crain’s Detroit Business
Automotive and technology are converging to help make Detroit a tech hub, with cars basically becoming “technology on wheels,” said Dan Gilbert, one of the speakers at a technology event Wednesday on Belle Isle.
Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rock Ventures LLC and Quicken Loans Inc., addressed about 300 automotive and technology executives, community leaders and students at the conference, hosted by MSX International and AutoWeek, a sister publication of Crain’s Detroit Business.
The theme of the conference, “Driving Technology: Where Silicon Valley Meets Detroit,” focused on the importance of technology in the auto industry and on attracting technology firms to invest in the city.
“You think about cars, it’s just technology on wheels now,” Gilbert said. “In reality, Detroit is a technology business and town, as long as cars are in the forefront, which I think they always will be.” Other speakers at the conference included K.C. Crain, vice president/group publisher at Crain Communications Inc.; Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development for General Motors Co.; and Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO of AOL.
Gilbert said Armstrong said businesses in Silicon Valley and elsewhere with “technology cache” are looking for engineers – why not in Detroit, where there is engineering talent?
“People who come here and sort of parachute in; they can sometimes see it better than we can, that the opportunity exists,” Gilbert said.
The conference takes place just days before the start of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, which runs Thursday through Sunday.