“What I’ve learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you’ll find that you put the time in. You won’t just ask somebody if it’s a good idea, you’ll go figure out if it’s a good idea.”
Mark Cuban (born July 31, 1958) is an American businessman, investor, film producer, author, television personality and philanthropist. He is the owner of the NBA‘s Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres, andMagnolia Pictures, and the chairman of the HDTV cable network AXS TV. He is also a “shark” investor on the television series Shark Tank. In 2011, Cuban wrote an e-book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, in which he chronicles his life experiences in business and sports.
Cuban was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father, Norton Cuban, was an automobile upholsterer and Mark has described his mother, Shirley, as someone with “a different job or different career goal every other week.” He grew up in the affluent suburb of Mount Lebanon, in a Jewish working-class family. His grandfather changed the family name from “Chabenisky” to “Cuban” after his Russian family landed on Ellis Island. Cuban’s first step into the business world occurred at age 12, when he sold garbage bags to pay for a pair of expensive basketball shoes. At age 16, Cuban took advantage of a Gazette strike by running newspapers from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. While attending Mount Lebanon High School he held a variety of jobs including a bartender, disco dancing instructor, and a party promoter.
Rather than attend high school for his senior year, he enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh where he joined the Pi Lambda Phi International fraternity. After one year at the University of Pittsburgh, he transferred to Indiana University inBloomington, Indiana and graduated from the Kelley School of Business in 1981 with a B.S. in Business Administration. He chose Indiana’s Kelley School of Business without even visiting the campus because “it had the least expensive tuition of all the business schools on the top 10 list”. During college, he had various business ventures, including a pub, disco lessons, and a chain letter.
In 1982, Cuban moved to Dallas, Texas. Cuban first found work as a bartender, then as a salesperson for Your Business Software, one of the first PC software retailers in Dallas. He was fired less than a year later, after meeting with a client to procure new business instead of opening the store.
Cuban started a company, MicroSolutions, with support from his previous customers from Your Business Software. MicroSolutions was initially a system integrator and software reseller. The company was an early proponent of technologies such as Carbon Copy,Lotus Notes, and CompuServe. One of the company’s largest clients was Perot Systems.
In 1995, Cuban and fellow Indiana University alumnus Todd Wagner started Audionet, combining their mutual interest in Indiana Hoosier college basketball and webcasting. With a single server and an ISDN line, Audionet became Broadcast.com in 1998. By 1999, Broadcast.com had grown to 330 employees and $13.5 million in revenue for the second quarter. In 1999, Broadcast.com helped launch the first live-streamed Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. That year, during the dot com boom, Broadcast.com was acquired by Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in Yahoo! stock.
After the sale of Broadcast.com, Cuban diversified his wealth to avoid exposure to a market crash. In 2011, Cuban was No. 459 on Forbes ’ list of “World’s Richest People”, with a net worth of $2.6 billion. The Guinness Book of Records credits Cuban with the “largest single e-commerce transaction”, after he paid $40 million for his Gulfstream V jet in October 1999.
On September 24, 2003, the firm purchased Landmark Theatres, a chain of 58 arthouse movie theaters. The company is also responsible for the updated version of the TV show Star Search, which was broadcast on CBS. 2929 Entertainment released Bubble, a movie directed by Steven Soderbergh, in theaters and on DVD on the same day in January 2006 as a simultaneous release.
Cuban was featured on the cover of the November 2003 premiere issue of Best magazine announcing the arrival of High Definition Television. Cuban also was co-founder (with Philip Garvin) of AXS TV (formerly HDNet), the first high-definition satellite television network.
In February 2004, Cuban announced that he would be working with ABC television to produce a reality television series, The Benefactor. The premise of the six-episode series involved 16 contestants trying to win $1 million by participating in various contests, with their performances being judged by Cuban. It premiered on September 13, 2004, but due to poor ratings, the series was canceled before the full season aired.
Cuban financially supported Grokster in the Supreme Court case, MGM v. Grokster. He is also a partner in Synergy Sports Technology, a web based basketball scouting and video delivery tool, used by many NBA teams.
He has also spearheaded ventures in the social software and Distributed Networking industries. He is an owner of IceRocket, a search engine which scours the blogosphere for content. Cuban was also a partner in RedSwoosh—a company which uses peer-to-peer technology to deliver rich media, including video and software to a user’s PC, later acquired by Akamai. He was also an investor in Weblogs, Inc. which was acquired by AOL.
In 2005, Cuban invested in Brondell Inc., a San Francisco startup making a high-tech toilet seat called a Swash that works like a bidet but mounts on a standard toilet. “People tend to approach technology the same way, whether it’s in front of them, or behind them,” Cuban joked. He also invested in Goowy Media Inc., a San Diego internet software startup. In April 2006, Sirius Satellite Radio announced that Cuban would host his own weekly radio talk show, Mark Cuban’s Radio Maverick. However, the show has not materialized.
In July 2006, Cuban financed Sharesleuth.com, a website created by former St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigative reporter Christopher Carey to uncover fraud and misinformation in publicly traded companies. Experimenting with a new business model for making online journalism financially viable, Cuban disclosed that he would take positions in the shares of companies mentioned in Sharesleuth.com in advance of publication. Business and legal analysts questioned the appropriateness of shorting a stock prior to making public pronouncements which are likely to result in losses in that stock’s value. Cuban insisted that the practice is legal in view of full disclosure.
In April 2007, Cuban partnered with Mascot Books to publish his first children’s book, Let’s Go, Mavs!. In November 2011, he wrote a 30,000-word e-book, “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It”, which he described as “a way to get motivated”.
In October 2008, Cuban started Bailoutsleuth.com as a grassroots, online portal for oversight over the U.S. government’s $700 billion “bailout” of financial institutions.
In September 2010, Cuban provided an undisclosed amount of Venture Capital to store-front analytics company Motionloft. According to the company’s CEO Jon Mills, Mills cold-emailed Cuban on a whim with the business proposition in which Mills claims Cuban quickly responded that he would like to hear more. Mills credits that sentence for launching the company. In November, 2013, several investors questioned Cuban about Mill’s representation of a pending acquisition of Motionloft. Cuban denied an acquisition was in place. Mills was terminated as CEO of Motionloft by stockholders on December 1, 2013, and in February 2014 was arrested by the FBI and charged with wire fraud, it being alleged that Mr. Mills misrepresented to investors that Motionloft was going to be acquired by Cisco. Cuban has gone on record to state that the technology that at least in part is meant to serve the commercial real estate industry is “game changing” for tenants.
Cuban owns film distributor Magnolia Pictures. Through Magnolia, he financed the film Redacted, a docudrama based on the Mahmudiyah killings, the March 2006 rape, murder, and burning of 14-year-old Iraqi girl Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the murder of her parents and younger sister by U.S. soldiers. Two of the soldiers were convicted and three pled guilty, receiving sentences up to 110 years. In September 2007, Cuban, in his capacity as owner of Magnolia Pictures, “redacted” disturbing photographs from the concluding moments of the film, citing copyrights/permissions issues.
Also in 2007, Cuban was reportedly interested in distributing an edition of the film Loose Change, which posits a 9/11 conspiracy theory, through Magnolia, with Charlie Sheen narrating. Cuban told the New York Post, “We are having discussions about distributing the existing video with Charlie’s involvement as a narrator, not in making a new feature. We are also looking for productions with an opposing viewpoint. We like controversial subjects, but we are agnostic to which side the controversy comes from.”
In April 2011, Cuban put Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theatres up for sale, but said, “If we don’t get the price and premium we want, we are happy to continue to make money from the properties.”
Insider trading allegation
On November 17, 2008, it was reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil suit against Mark Cuban relating to alleged insider trading in the shares of Mamma.com, now known as Copernic. A stock dilution occurred shortly after a trade in June 2004, giving hints of inside knowledge at the time of the trade, and Cuban allegedly was saved from a loss of $750,000. The SEC claims that Cuban ordered the sale of his holdings in Mamma.com after he had been confidentially approached by the company to participate in a transaction likely to dilute shares of current shareholders. Cuban disputed the charges, saying he had not agreed to keep the information secret. On his blog, Cuban contended the facts were false and that the investigation was “a product of gross abuse of prosecutorial discretion”. DealBook, a section of The New York Times, reported through an anonymous source that Cuban believed the investigation was motivated by an SEC employee having taken offense to his interest in possibly distributing the film Loose Change.
In July 2009, the U.S. District Court dismissed the charges against Cuban, but the SEC appealed, and in September 2010 an appeals court said that the district court had erred and that further proceedings would be necessary to address the merits of the suit.
A Texas Jury found Cuban not guilty of the charges on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. The nine-member jury issued the verdict after deliberating 3 hours and 35 minutes.
In the 20 years before Cuban bought the team, the Mavericks won only 40 percent of their games, and a playoff record of 21–32. In the 10 years following, the team won 69 percent of their regular season games and reached the playoffs in each of those seasons except for one. The Mavericks’ playoff record with Cuban is 49 wins and 57 losses, including their first trip to the NBA Finals in 2006, where they lost to the Miami Heat.
On June 12, 2011, the Mavericks defeated the Heat to win the NBA Finals. Historically, NBA team owners publicly play more passive roles and watch basketball games from skyboxes; Cuban sits alongside fans while donning team jerseys. Cuban travels in his private airplane—a Gulfstream V—to attend road games.
In May 2010, H. Ross Perot, Jr., who retained 5 percent ownership, filed a lawsuit against Cuban, alleging the franchise was insolvent or in imminent danger of insolvency. In June 2010, Cuban responded in a court filing maintaining Perot is wrongly seeking money to offset some $100 million in losses on the Victory Park real estate development.