Interview with Mark Cuban [classic article]

As first seen on Source: 2015 The Cyber Scene TM

Billionaire Mark Cuban says, “Don’t do what I do. I’m a terrible employee.”

Mark Cuban has been innovating businesses since the age of 12. A product of a working class family, he sold garbage bags door-to-door, powdered milk and even newspapers during a Pittsburgh newspaper strike.

After graduating from Indiana University, Cuban moved to Dallas. There, he started a computer consulting business, MicroSolutions, which he sold to CompuServe in 1990.

In 1994, Cuban wanted to listen to his alma mater’s Indiana Hoosiers basketball game broadcasts, but couldn’t from Dallas. He figured that broadcasting could be done over the Internet at a great profit. So, he and a friend invested $3,000 to create AudioNet. In the late 1990s, it was renamed In 1999, bought for $6 billion worth of stock and Cuban became a billionaire.

In 2000, Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, which was just in the NBA finals.

In 2004, during the height of the reality show craze, Cuban had his own show on ABC, the “The Benefactor,” which gave away a million dollars to a well-deserving contestant. Cuban, who was once a “Cosmo Bachelor of the Month,” is now married with one daughter.

What are your latest projects?
Mark Cuban: Besides the Mavs, there is HDNet and HDNet Movies (,,,, for theentertainment biz. Then in the internet space,,,, with more to come.

In the 1990’s there was a tech stock boom, then bust. Now, with the IPO of Google and other major developments, are we in the midst of a second tech boom?

Mark Cuban: No question about it, but its completely different than the ‘90s. Today, anyone with 500 dollars can buy an incredibly powerful PC and get a fast net connection and startup an Internet business. Back in the ‘90s, startups worried about raising money first, then having a workable idea second. Today, most startups don’t want or need money. They can hit the groundrunning and have an impact. Once they can determine the scale of the opportunity, they look to raise funds.

What do you foresee as a big tech innovation ten years from now?

Mark Cuban: I have no idea, and I don’t even pretend to know.

With your ownership of the Mavericks, do you consider owning a sports team a good investment, or something you do for love of the sport?

Mark Cuban: It could be a good investment if I didn’t care about winning. But winning a title is more important than making some more money.

A while back, your gift to your then fiancée was highly publicized. What is your philosophy as to gifts? Are you under any special pressures?

Mark Cuban: I don’t have a policy. I just do what I think is the right thing to do.

With your private business, you have to pay employees the fair market value. With the NBA, there are salary caps. Do you find that frustrating?

Mark Cuban: No. Not at all. The NBA has to take into consideration the health of the league as a whole. So the caps work. In all other businesses, your competition is trying to put you out of business. Things wouldn’t work too well in pro sports if I were trying to put the Spurs or Lakers out of business. Instead, I just want to kick their ass on the scoreboard.

What do you consider a splurge?

Mark Cuban: Eating a quart of ice cream in one sitting.

What do you consider a complete waste of money?

Mark Cuban: Trying to be fancy. I don’t get into the place settings or chandeliers or paintings for the sake of having things because I can. I just like the things I like and go from there.

Are you involved with any charities?

Mark Cuban: Yes, but the only one I disclose is the Fallen Patriot Fund ( I try to do things because I think it’s the right thing for me to do, not because I get recognition.

Do you feel you enjoy your money more than such people as Warren Buffet, who refuses to drive new cars or to throw out used soap?

Mark Cuban: No. I’m sure he has his splurges and things he loves to do. Renting out a baseball field and putting together a game isn’t something you can do with money you save from soap conservation.

Other than your tech business and the Mavericks, do you have other investments?

Mark Cuban: I love the Internet and how it impacts the delivery of content and information. What people are calling, Web 2.0, AJAX interfaces, software written using practical approaches like Ruby on Rails. Anything that can be run with fewer than 5 people and can be nimble, aggressive and impactful are the types of technology businesses I love. The kind I hate are the “I’m the smartest guy on the planet” type applications. DRM, video compression and the like . There is always someone smarter and I’m not good enough to know which person I’m talking to. The also ran, or the best .

You are very “hands-on”. How do you know when it’s time to delegate?

Mark Cuban: When I trust someone and feel that I can learn something from them.With your tech business, you are the boss. With the NBA, you have to work within a consortium.

What advice do you have for people who have to “work with the system”?

Mark Cuban: Don’t do what I do. I’m a terrible employee. I don’t do well “in a system”. I guess my real advice is to do your homework and understand what your goals are. It’s easy to speak up, it’s hard to figure out how to pay for the kids’ stuff when you are fired.

You have taken a very visible role in the media, as evidenced by your sitting in the stands and not in a box. How do you achieve the privacy you need in your life?

Mark Cuban: I know where and when I will have private time, either alone or with family. I have places I can go where people have known me and are used to seeing me. Then there is everywhere else, where I have to realize that there is a very good chance that someone is going to take a picture. I just look at it as a good problem to have. I would rather be in this position, than where I have been in the past, wondering how I’m going to pay the bills.


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