Following 40 years at Compuware Corp., Peter Karmanos Jr. — with a group of 25 technologists — is out to revolutionize the $700-billion commercial automations systems industry.
Photographs by Brad Ziegler / Styling by Rebecca Voigt
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In a bright, airy, second-floor walkup overlooking Pierce Street in downtown Birmingham, Peter Karmanos Jr. is working on a second act he believes will be as impressive as his first with Compuware Corp.
Mad Dog Technology, which Karmanos and six partners started 18 months ago, is the venture capital parent of a cloud-based energy management company, Resolute, that seeks to revolutionize energy usage in buildings owned by major enterprises. Projections indicate Resolute will generate $200 million in revenue in three to five years, with a corresponding valuation of $2 billion to $3 billion.
“Resolute does energy management in the cloud, so it’s a green company,” says Karmanos, chairman of Mad Dog. “We project to save companies 20 percent to 25 percent on their energy bills. (It will) allow them to monitor energy use from a central location using their smartphone or their iPad.”
More than two years after his 40-year run at Compuware ended — with his retirement as chairman of the board in March 2013, his abrupt firing from a consulting contract a few months later, and his ejection from his office and parking space in the iconic downtown building he created — things are looking up for the 72-year-old technology pioneer.
On a recent morning, Karmanos, who owns the National Hockey League Carolina Hurricanes, was in his office savoring congratulations from friends and associates following his selection the night before to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was elected for his lifetime contributions to youth hockey in metro Detroit.
His well-furnished, boutique office in Birmingham may be a long way from his expansive 15th-floor suite overlooking Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, with its multifaceted fountain that he largely funded, but it pulses with the same reminders of his career of achievements.
In one corner is an antiquated gray cash register last used in the restaurant his parents once owned on Detroit’s east side. Above it is a black-and-white photograph showing his parents waiting on diners at the counter, with a young, dark-haired Pete Karmanos manning the grill behind them.
Framed newspaper prints recall his hockey triumph, when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006. There’s also a replica of the championship trophy near his desk, as well as the Lester Patrick Trophy the league awarded him for his outstanding contributions to the game after the 1997-98 season.
As he showed a visitor around, Karmanos was still glowing over a recent arbitrator’s decision that forced Compuware’s management to pay him $16.5 million after he sued for wrongful termination, and for stripping him of vested stock options in the company he co-founded with two friends in 1973. Like nearly everything connected to the larger-than-life-Karmanos story, the $16.5 million represents the largest arbitration award for an employment case in Michigan history, says Kevin F. O’Shea, partner of The Miller Law Firm in Rochester, which specializes in complex business litigation.