Mark Cuban is best known as the casually dressed and outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks and one of the billionaire investors to regularly appear on the show "Shark Tank." His astounding investing and business success is rooted in ambition, business savvy and seizing the right opportunities at the right times.
Cuban started young and always focused on making his businesses profitable. Perhaps most importantly, Cuban demonstrated an unwavering belief in himself and willingness to try new things.
Early Life and Education
Born in 1958 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cuban skipped his senior year in high school and chose to attend Indiana University to study business. He earned extra money in college by doing odd jobs, including teaching disco lessons to sorority girls for a steep $25 an hour.
Before he finished undergraduate study at IU, Cuban had saved up $15,000. He decided to buy a small pub in Bloomington called Motley's. This made Cuban someone of a rarity and sensation; here was a business student who was also actively running a business.
Cuban continued to invest in businesses and turn a profit throughout the 1980s. He moved from college bars to theater chains and into Internet startups. His real success, however, comes down to a few deals he made in the early 1990s.
After moving back to Pittsburgh in 1981 and studying how computers worked, Cuban moved to Dallas in 1982. He worked as a software salesman for a short period of time before deciding to start his own consulting business, MicroSolutions.
Cuban's first tech company was a major success. He sold the startup to CompuServe in 1990 for a monster $6 million. Cuban wasn't satisfied, however, and was convinced that the future of business was Internet technology. His next few years were spent networking (and partying), learning as much as he could about the potential of the Internet and what consumers could get out of it.
It turns out that Cuban was one of his own target audiences. Cuban teamed up with fellow IU alumnus Todd Wagner to start AudioNet in 1995. Cuban was one of the real pioneers of the idea of live Internet streaming in the mid-1990s.
The timing and concept couldn't have been more perfect for Cuban. AudioNet (later changed to Broadcast.com) combined his three great passions – technology, sports and business management – while filling an enormous consumer demand. It also happened during the formation of the tech bubble.
Wagner and Cuban took Broadcast.com public in 1998. Cuban recalls what it was like watching his stock prices soar, saying "I was sitting in front of a computer, hitting refresh ... when the stock got to a certain point I kinda screamed and jumped around." After its stock prices finally settled at more than $200 a share, Yahoo stepped in and bought out the business for $6 billion.
Net Worth and Current Influence
In 2000, Cuban bought a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million. The National Basketball Association was in a bit of a post-Michael Jordan slump at the time, and Cuban wasn't brash about changes that he thought would help the league market itself better.
Over the next decade, Cuban would become an influential owner and help drive the league to a new era of modern marketing. Cuban's Mavericks went from a laughingstock to a world champion that was worth nearly two and a half times what Cuban paid for it.
On the 2014 Forbes billionaire list, Cuban ranked as number 696 with an approximate net worth of $2.6 billion.
Most Influential Quotes
In his book, "How to Win at the Sport of Business," Cuban wrote, "Treat your customers like they own you. Because they do." Cuban says most startups fail because they don't make themselves accessible to the needs of the customer.
In the same book, Cuban wrote, "Moral of the story: Make your product easier to buy than your competition." Cuban loves to boil business strategies into common-sense principles.
"Forget about finding your passion. Focus on finding big problems," he said in an interview with HBR. Cuban says that following your passion is "easily the worst advice" you can get.