Mark Cuban (born July 31, 1958) is an American entrepreneur and investor. He is the owner of the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s Dallas Mavericks, co-owner of 2929 Entertainment, and chairman of AXS TV. He is also one of the main “shark” investors on the ABC reality television series, Shark Tank. In 2011, Cuban wrote an e-book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, in which he chronicles his experiences in business and sports.
Cuban was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father, Norton Cuban, was an automobile upholsterer, while Cuban has described his mother, Shirley, as someone with “a different job or different career goal every other week.” He grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mount Lebanon, in a Jewish working-class family. His paternal grandfather changed the family name from “Chabenisky” to “Cuban” after his family emigrated from Russia through Ellis Island. His maternal grandparents, who were also Jewish, came from Romania. 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. Some years later, he earned money by selling stamps and coins. At age 16, Cuban took advantage of a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette strike by running newspapers from Cleveland to Pittsburgh.
Instead of attending 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. He is a “beloved” fan of Pittsburgh’s NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After one year at the University of Pittsburgh, he transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and graduated from the Kelley School of Business in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management. 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 bar, disco lessons, and a chain letter. While attending Indiana University he held a variety of jobs, including a bartender, disco dancing instructor, and a party promoter.
On July 7, 1982, Cuban moved to Dallas, Texas, where he first found work as a bartender for a Greenville Avenue bar called Elan and then as a salesperson for Your Business Software, one of the earliest 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 his own 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.
The company grew to more than $30 million in revenue, and in 1990, Cuban sold MicroSolutions to CompuServethen a subsidiary of H&R Blockfor $6 million. He made approximately $2 million after taxes on the deal.
Cuban hates meetings, believing they are a waste of time and money. He has said, “The only way you’re going to get me for a meeting is if you’re writing me a check.”
Audionet and Broadcast.com
In 1995, Chris Jaeb and fellow Indiana University alumnus Todd Wagner started Audionet with Cuban, 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. 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 2006.
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.
Investments in startups
Cuban has also assisted ventures in the social software and distributed networking industries. He is an owner of IceRocket, a search engine that scours the blogosphere for content. Cuban was a partner in RedSwoosha company which uses peer-to-peer technology to deliver rich media, including video and software, to a user’s PClater 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, he cold-emailed Cuban on a whim with the business proposition and claimed Cuban quickly responded that he would like to hear more. Mills credited that sentence for launching the company. In November 2013, several investors questioned Cuban about Mills’ 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 Mills misrepresented to investors that Motionloft was going to be acquired by Cisco. Cuban has gone on record to state that the technology, which at least in part is meant to serve the commercial real estate industry, is “game changing” for tenants.
As of May 2015, he has invested in 85 deals across 111 Shark Tank episodes, for a total of $19.9 million invested. The actual numbers vary because the investment happens after the handshake deal on live television, after the due diligence is performed to ensure the accuracy of the information presented in the pitch room. For instance, Hy-Conn, a manufacturer of removable fire hoses, after agreeing to a deal of $1.25 million for 100% of the company with Cuban, did not go through with the deal.
Since Cuban joined the show in 2011, the ratings for Shark Tank have increased, and also during his tenure, the show has won three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Structured Reality Program (from 2014 – 2016). As of 2018, Cuban was the second richest of all Sharks to appear on the show, at 4.1 billion, after Richard Branson, at 5.1 billion.
Cuban owns film distributor Magnolia Pictures. Through Magnolia, he financed Redacted, a fictional dramatization based on the 2006 Mahmudiyah killings, written and directed by Brian De Palma. In September 2007, Cuban, in his capacity as owner of Magnolia Pictures, removed disturbing photographs from the concluding moments of the Redacted, citing copyrights/permissions issues.
Also in 2007, Cuban was reportedly interested in distributing through Magnolia an edition of the film Loose Change, which posits a 9/11 conspiracy theory, 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.”
SEC insider trading allegation
On November 17, 2008, it was reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil suit against 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 claimed 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 allegations 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, and the SEC appealed. 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.
In the 20 years before Cuban bought the team, the Mavericks won only 40% 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 airplanea Gulfstream Vto attend road games.
In May 2010, H. Ross Perot, Jr., who retained 5% 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. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2011, due in part to Cuban asserting proper management of the team due to its recent victory in the 2011 NBA Finals. In 2014, the 5th Circuit Court affirmed that decision on appeal. Following his initial defeat, Perot attempted to shut out Mavericks fans from use of the parking lots he controlled near the American Airlines Center.
Cuban’s ownership has been the source of extensive media attention and controversy involving league policies.
Cuban has been fined by the NBA, mostly for critical statements about the league and referees, at least $1.665 million for 13 incidents. In a June 30, 2006 interview, Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki said about Cuban:
He’s got to learn how to control himself as well as the players do. We can’t lose our temper all the time on the court or off the court, and I think he’s got to learn that, too. He’s got to improve in that area and not yell at the officials the whole game. I don’t think that helps us … He sits right there by our bench. I think it’s a bit much. But we all told him this before. It’s nothing new. The game starts, and he’s already yelling at them. So he needs to know how to control himself a little.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Cuban said that he matches NBA fines with charitable donations of equal amounts. In a nationally publicized incident in 2002, he criticized the league’s manager of officials, Ed T. Rush, saying that he “wouldn’t be able to manage a Dairy Queen.” Dairy Queen management took offense to Cuban’s comments and invited him to manage a Dairy Queen restaurant for a day. Cuban accepted the company’s invitation and worked for a day at a Dairy Queen in Coppell, Texas, where fans lined up in the street to get a Blizzard from the owner of the Mavericks.
During the 2005-06 NBA season, Cuban started a booing campaign when former Mavericks player Michael Finley returned to play against the Mavericks as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. In a playoff series between the Mavericks and Spurs, Cuban cursed Spurs forward Bruce Bowen and was fined $25,000 by the NBA for rushing onto the court and criticizing NBA officials. After the 2006 NBA Finals, Cuban was fined $250,000 by the NBA for repeated misconduct following the Mavericks’ loss to the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2006 NBA Finals.
In February 2007, Cuban publicly criticized NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade and declared that he would get fined if he made any comments about what he thought really happened in the 2006 NBA Finals.
On January 16, 2009, the league fined Cuban $25,000 for yelling at Denver Nuggets player J. R. Smith at the end of the first half on a Mavericks-at-Nuggets game played on January 13. Cuban was apparently incensed that Smith had thrown an elbow that barely missed Mavericks forward Antoine Wright. Cuban offered to match the fine with a donation to a charity of Smith’s choosing. Cuban stated that if he doesn’t hear from Smith, then he will donate the money to the NHL Players’ Association Goals and Dreams Fund in the names of Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore. In May 2009, Cuban made a reference to the Denver Nuggets being “thugs” after a loss to the Nuggets in game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The statement was geared towards the Nuggets and their fans. As he passed Kenyon Martin‘s mother, who was seated near Cuban as he left the arena, he pointed at her and said, “that includes your son.” This controversial comment revisited media attention on Cuban yet again. Cuban issued an apology the next day referencing the poor treatment of away fans in arenas around the league. The league issued a statement stating that they would not fine him.
Despite his history, he was notably silent during the Mavericks’ 2011 championship playoff run.
Despite Cuban’s history with David Stern, he believed the NBA Commissioner would leave a lasting legacy “of a focus on growth and recognizing that the NBA is in the entertainment business and that it’s a global product, not just a local product. Whatever platforms that took us to, he was ready to go. He wasn’t protective at all. He was wide open. I think that was great.”
On January 18, 2014, Cuban was once again fined $100,000 for confronting referees and using inappropriate language toward them. As with previous fines, Cuban confirmed that he would match the fine with a donation to charity, however, with the condition that he reaches two million followers on his Twitter account. Cuban also jokingly commented that he could not let Stern leave without a proper farewell.
On February 21, 2018, Cuban was fined $600,000 by the NBA for stating that the Dallas Mavericks should “tank for the rest of the season.” Commissioner Adam Silver stated that the fine was “for public statements detrimental to the NBA.”
Major League Baseball
Cuban has repeatedly expressed interest in owning a Major League Baseball franchise and has unsuccessfully attempted to purchase at least three franchises. In 2008, he submitted an initial bid of $1.3 billion to buy the Chicago Cubs and was invited to participate in a second round of bidding along with several other potential ownership groups. Cuban was not selected to participate in the final bidding process in January 2009. In August 2010, Cuban actively bid to buy the Texas Rangers with Jeffrey L. Beck. Cuban stopped bids after 1 a.m., having placed bids totaling almost $600 million. He had outbid a competing ownership group led by ex-pitcher and Rangers executive Nolan Ryan, but lost the deal before the Rangers played the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series.
In January 2012, Cuban placed an initial bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was eliminated before the second round of bidding. Cuban felt that the value of the Dodgers’ TV rights deal drove the price of the franchise too high. He had previously said that he would not be interested in buying the franchise at $1 billion, telling the Los Angeles Times in November 2011 “I don’t think the Dodgers franchise is worth twice what the Rangers are worth.” However, as the bidding process drew near many speculated that the sale would surpass $1.5 billion, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reporting on Twitter that at least one bid in the $1-1.5 billion range was placed in the initial round of the bidding process. Ultimately, the Dodgers sold for $2.15 billion to Guggenheim Baseball Management.
Other sports businesses
In 2005, Cuban expressed interest in buying the NHL‘s Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2006, Cuban joined an investment group along with Dan Marino, Kevin Millevoi, Andy Murstein, and Walnut Capital principals Gregg Perelman and Todd Reidbord to attempt to acquire the Penguins. The franchise ultimately rejected the group’s bid when team owners Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle took the team off the market.
At WWE‘s Survivor Series in 2003, Cuban was involved in a staged altercation with Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff and Raw wrestler Randy Orton. On December 7, 2009, Cuban acted as the guest host of Raw, getting revenge on Orton when he was the guest referee in Orton’s match against Kofi Kingston, giving Kingston a fast count victory. He then announced that Orton would face Kingston at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. At the end of the show, Cuban was slammed through a table by the number one contender for the WWE Championship, Sheamus.
On September 12, 2007, Cuban said that he was in talks with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to create a mixed martial arts company that would compete with UFC. He is now a bondholder of Zuffa, UFC’s parent company.
Cuban followed up his intentions by organizing “HDNet Fights“, a mixed martial arts promotion which airs exclusively on HDNet and premiered on October 13, 2007 with a card headlined by a fight between Erik Paulson and Jeff Ford as well as fights featuring veterans Drew Fickett and Justin Eilers.
In April 2010, Cuban loaned the newly formed United Football League (UFL) $5 million. He did not own a franchise, and he was not involved in day-to-day operations of the league nor of any of its teams. In January 2011, he filed a federal lawsuit against the UFL for their failure to repay the loan by the October 6, 2010 deadline.
Cuban is an admirer of author and philosopher Ayn Rand. About Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, he said, ” was incredibly motivating to me. It encouraged me to think as an individual, take risks to reach my goals, and responsibility for my successes and failures. I loved it.” His political views have leaned toward libertarianism. He held a position on the centrist Unity08 political organization’s advisory council. While leaning towards libertarianism, Cuban posted an entry on his blog claiming paying more taxes to be the most patriotic thing someone can do.
On February 8, 2008, Cuban voiced his support for the draft Bloomberg movement attempting to convince New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run in the U.S. presidential election of 2008 on his blog. Cuban concluded a post lamenting the current state of U.S. politics: “Are you listening, Mayor Bloomberg? For less than the cost of opening a tent pole movie, you can change the status quo.” He eventually voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election.
In November 2012, in response to Donald Trump offering President Obama $5 million to a charity of President Obama’s choosing if he released passport applications and college transcripts to the public, Cuban offered Trump $1 million to a charity of Trump’s choosing if Trump shaved his head.
On December 19, 2012, Cuban donated $250,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to support its work on patent reform. Part of his donation funded a new title for EFF’s staff attorney Julie Samuels: The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents.
Cuban formally endorsed Hillary Clinton for President at a July 30, 2016 rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During that campaign stop, Cuban said of Republican nominee Donald Trump, “You know what we call a person like that in Pittsburgh? A jagoff … Is there any bigger jagoff in the world than Donald Trump?”
Fallen Patriot Fund
Cuban started the Fallen Patriot Fund to help families of U.S. military personnel killed or injured during the Iraq War, personally matching the first $1 million in contributions with funds from the Mark Cuban Foundation, which is run by his brother Brian Cuban.
Speculation of a presidential run
In September 2015, Cuban stated in an interview that running for president was “a fun idea to toss around”, and that, if he were running in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, he “could beat both Trump and Clinton“. This was interpreted by many media outlets as indication that Cuban was considering running, but he clarified soon afterward that he had no intention to do so.
In October 2015, Cuban posted on Twitter, “Maybe I’ll run for Speaker of the House.” At the time, there was no clear front-runner to replace the outgoing John Boehner; the Speaker of the House does not have to be a member of Congress.
Cuban told Meet the Press in May 2016 that he would be open to being Clinton’s running mate in the election, though he would seek to alter some of her positions in order to do so. In the same interview, the self-described “fiercely independent” Cuban also said that he would consider running as Republican nominee Trump’s running mate after having a meeting with Trump about understanding the issues, Trump’s positions on them, and coming up with solutions. Cuban also described Trump as “that friend that you just shake your head at. He’s that guy who’d get drunk and fall over all the time, or just says dumb shit all the time, but he’s your friend.” On July 21, 2016, Cuban appeared on a live segment on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert entitled “Gloves Off: Mark Cuban Edition” in which he mocked Trump, including referencing the Trump companies’ multiple bankruptcies and the failed Trump University program, and questioning the size of Trump’s actual net worth.
In a September 2016 interview with NPR’s Scott Simon, Cuban effectively positioned himself to support Clinton. He posited that the best strategy to beat Trump was to attack his insecurities, especially that of his intellect. He also added that Trump is the least qualified to be president and is not informed about policies.
Later in September 2016, during a post-presidential debate interview, Cuban criticized Trump’s characterization that paying the minimum required taxes ‘is smart’ and criticized Trump for not paying back into the system that allowed him to amass such wealth.
In October 2017, Cuban said that he would “definitely” run for president if he were single. Later that month, Cuban claimed that if he ran for president in 2020, it would be as a Republican, and described himself as “socially a centrist … but very fiscally conservative”. It has also been speculated that he could challenge president Donald Trump in 2020 as a Democrat. However, in a March 2019 interview with the New York Daily News, Cuban stated that he was “strongly considering running” for president as an independent candidate. In May 2019, Cuban said: It would take the perfect storm for me to do it. There’s some things that could open the door, but I’m not projecting or predicting it right now.”
In September 2002, Cuban married Tiffany Stewart in a private ceremony in Barbados. They have two daughters: one born in 2003, the other born in 2006, and a son born in 2010. They live in a 24,000-square-foot (2,200 m2) mansion in the Preston Hollow area of Dallas, Texas.
In June 2015 Cuban made a $5 million donation to Indiana University at Bloomington for the “Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology”, which will be built inside Assembly Hall, the school’s basketball arena.