On July 7, 1982 a 24 year old Mark Cuban rode into Dallas on a beat-up ’77 Fiat X/19. With nothing but a sleeping bag, and a little cash to his name; the Indiana University alum decided to take up bartending at a nearby club. Desperate for better career prospects, Cuban began applying for other job opportunities almost immediately, in a few short weeks he had nailed an interview at a local software store called Your Business Software.
Early Failures and Successes
As a tech enthusiast the job offered Cuban the opportunity to gain a foothold in an industry he had long-admired. Despite his relative inexperience, Cuban got the job; and in his mind he was now well on his way to building a great career in software sales. Unfortunately, within a year he had been let go for paying more attention to securing sales leads than sweeping floors at the store.
It seemed that despite his enthusiasm, and desire to succeed, nobody was willing to give the budding businessman the platform he needed to make good on his promise of success. So Cuban decided to take the bull by the horns, and engineer his own path to riches.
A few years on, and Cuban had founded a successful software sales firm Microsolutions, off the back of many of the client relationships that he had developed at Your Business Software. By 1990 he had sold off the firm to H &R Block for $6 million; with Cuban himself pocketing $2 million off the deal.
At the tender age of 32, Mark Cuban was a bonafide millionaire, and like any other suddenly wealthy young man, he decided that he would enjoy the fruits of his labor. Cuban retired on his initial windfall, and promptly purchased a lifetime pass from American Airlines in an effort to see as many countries in the world as possible.
But the party boy lifestyle couldn’t keep his irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit down, forever.
As owner of the Dallas Mavericks and several other franchises in a variety of leagues, Mark Cuban’s love of sports should come as a surprise to nobody. Back in 1995, five years off of the sale of Microsolutions it was this same passion that drove Cuban into his next big endeavor.
With the worldwide web taking off, Cuban had long been on the lookout for investments opportunities in the online world. When a digital media specialist by the name of Christopher Jaeb approached him to secure funding, for an audio streaming service that could play sports events from a variety of leagues; Cuban realized that he had found a perfect match for his abilities.
Starting with a $10,000 investment from Cuban, the website then known as AudioNet quickly became a runaway favorite amongst sports enthusiasts. By 1998 Cuban and his business partner Todd Wagner, a fellow Indiana University graduate, had bought out the entire company, renaming it to Broadcast.com in anticipation of a public offering. The massive success of that IPO made many, of the employees at the firm millionaires almost overnight.
Within a year, Broadcast.com was employing 300 people; and drawing admiring glances from a variety of tech conglomerates around the world, amongst the list of suitors was Yahoo. Eventually the search engine giant decided to make good on its intentions, in July of 1999 Yahoo acquired Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion dollars in stick, at the very height of the dot com boom.
With the crash just around the corner, the sale couldn’t have come at a better time for Cuban. As a savvy stock market player, he quickly set about selling his shares and diversifying his investments in order to protect his newfound wealth against the threat of market failure.
Working in the 2000’s
The Dallas Mavericks
Amongst Mark Cuban’s most high profile investments in the early 2000’s was his $280 million acquisition of struggling NBA franchise, the Dallas Mavericks. With Cuban’s guidance, and shrewd strategic advice, the franchise slowly managed to right years of mismanagement, and poor player trading to get to the NBA finals in 2006. Five years later, the Mavericks did one better and won the championship, much to their owner’s delight. Today, the sports franchise is valued at $1.4 billion, not a bad return on investment.
Over the years Cuban has made many moves in the entertainment industry, both behind the scenes, and in front of the cameras.
In 2001, he introduced high definition cable TV to America with an exclusive digital network known as HDNet. The television serviced offered sports events, live news coverage, movies and other programming marketed primarily towards a male demographic. In 2012, the company was rebranded as AXS TV, with the channel increasing its viewer base to include an additional 14 million people on the Dish Network.
In 2003, Cuban purchased an arthouse movie theater chain by the name of Landmark Theatres under his company 2029 Entertainment.
Cuban has made several forays into television at various points in his career. In 2004, he collaborated with ABC network to produce a reality show called The Benefactor; the show was met with poor ratings and quickly went off the air.
Undeterred by that failure, Cuban returned to TV in 2012 as part of the judging team on the hit series Shark Tank. The show offers investors the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to Cuban, and other investors. Of the 43 business deals that Cuban has closed on the show, an impressive 31% have gone on to birth successful businesses, a figure that puts him far ahead of other savvy investors.
With Cuban’s involvement Shark Tank has seen ratings grow year-on-year. The show has received strong critical acclaim as well, winning three consecutive Emmy awards between, 2014 and 2016.
With an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion and counting Mark Cuban’s appetite for success shows no signs of being satisfied. When describing the biggest contributor to his fortune, Cuban says:
“Once you have found out what you love to do, there is only one goal…How can you be the best in the world at it? It doesn’t matter if you are a filing clerk, an athlete, an accountant or a bartender. All that matters is that you do whatever you can to be the best.”
by Bobby J Davidson
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