Mark Cuban — The “Luckiest” Billionaire
Mark Cuban is best known for his unorthodox investment strategies on Shark Tank, owning the Dallas Mavericks (professional basketball team), and the exciting lifestyle that he lives. Mark is an entrepreneur, TV personality, media proprietor, and investor. He was born on July 31, 1958 (age: 62) in Pittsburg, PA. After the first year at Pittsburgh University, he transferred to Indiana University and graduated with a business degree in 1981. He then went back to Pittsburgh and got a job at a retail software company where his career took a big turn.
His boss wanted him to open up the store every morning, making him clean the windows, sweep the floors, and dress exceptionally. In fact, he constantly criticized Mark for how cheap his suits were knowing that Mark couldn’t afford anything fancier at that time. One day, Cuban got somebody to fill in his shift and came back with a $10,000 check from a sale he closed, selling the company’s software. To his surprise, he got fired on the spot. The boss cared more about how Mark and the store were represented than the revenue which he brought in. “It was there I learned that sales cures all — there’s never been a company that succeeded without sales” — emphasized Cuban later in his career. Mark decided he won’t ever work for another employer ever again and so he never has.
The entrepreneurial path:
Mark moved to Dallas and started a consulting business called MicroSolutions, a computer consulting service. He arrived with “$60, hole in my floorboard, case of oil in the trunk & a floor to sleep on”. He claimed he worked 20 hours a day and didn’t take a vacation for 7 years. Cuban sold the company for $6 million to CompuServe in 1990. By that time, Cuban was an expert at computers and computer networking. He was also a big basketball fan and wanted to listen to Indiana Hoosiers Basketball games. He started AudioNet in 1995 and went public 3 years later, with the stock reaching $200 a share. He then sold it to Yahoo for $5.7 Billion when they were on a buying spree in the dot.com era — competing for users on the web.
The Dallas Mavericks:
One of his first and biggest investments was buying the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million, which he has been a season ticket holder for years. He completely changed what it meant to be an owner in the NBA, getting involved with everyone from players to the cleanup staff, calling roster changes, and creating a sense of belonging for the whole organization. Mavs won the championship in 2011 and are now estimated to be worth around $2.3 billion.
Soon after, Mark disrupted the movie release window, by giving consumers the choice of how they want to watch his film “Bubble”. It was released simultaneously across theatrical, television, and home video platforms all of which he owned or had a large stake in. Soon after he joined the ABC TV show “Shark Tank” in the second season and has been on the show ever since.
His critics mostly despise Cuban for having a “cheap exit” with Audio Net. The broadcast service was losing millions every year and the only reason Yahoo acquired them was because of their 500,000 users, as they raced to remain the most visited website and keep stock evaluations high by buying out dozens of companies. A famous rivalry with Robert Herjavecalso was born when Mark first joined the show and was investing more than everyone else in a diverse pool of industries. Robert stressed that Cuban was by far the richest among the sharks — capable of stealing some of the deals with higher offers and being the favorable shark for most investors. He pointed out that some entrepreneurs would wait until Mark makes an offer even if they have other deals on the table.
What’s there not to love?
Personally, I admire the guy because just like me, he always had a passion for selling growing up. He was a true go-getter: at 12 he sold sets of garbage bags door to door to save up for a pair of basketball shoes and when running out of money to pay for his education he started giving dance lessons in college, eventually hosting lavish disco parties at the Bloomington National Guard Armory. He is an entertaining yet brutally honest investor, and I agree with most of his opinions on various issues from sports to start-up evaluations.
I recommend him to write more and better books as there aren’t many written, especially outside the sports industry. Also, have bigger movie roles and continue being an active and insightful mentor to thousands impacted by his work on and off the screen. Hopefully, we’ll one day be swimming in the same tank.