From the Dallas Mavericks’ sideline to Dancing with the Stars to Shark Tank, this NBA owner has seen (and said) it all. We sat down with him to find out what it takes to succeed in the business world.
MF: What’s an early venture of yours we wouldn’t know about?
MC: I’ve been an entrepreneur as long as I can remember. Before my senior year there was a bar called the Silver Dollar that we used to rent out and promote parties in, and the owner came to me and said, “You guys are doing better with your parties than I am with the bar—why don’t you buy it?” So I opened up a bar called Motley’s Pub on Sept. 29th, and it lasted until February. We had a wet T-shirt contest, and there were pictures of the contestants in the Bloomington newspaper. Unfortunately, a probation officer recognized a picture of one of her parolees, who happened to be a 16-year-old on probation for prostitution. That was the sorry end of Motley’s Pub.
Then you made your fortune off Internet radio streaming.
I was always kind of a geek, and I moved to Dallas and needed a job. Long story short, that led me to start a company called Micro- Solutions, which I sold. I was sitting with a buddy, and he was like, “You know this Internet thing is just starting to happen. There’s gotta be a way to listen to Indiana basketball online. You’re the geek; you figure it out.” So I bought a Packard Bell computer from a computer store, set it up in the second bedroom of my house, and started trying to figure out streaming. We started it off as AudioNet, we turned it into Broadcast.com, sold it to Yahoo!, and the rest is history.
You’re more vocal than most NBA owners. Why the intensity?
I’ve always been like this. It’s funny; when I play basketball I don’t get all agitated and everything. I just play. But even before I bought the team, for whatever reason, it’s an area where I just get all worked up. So for the 48 minutes of basketball, you’re going to see me all excitable and fired up, but the minute the game is over—well, maybe not the minute, but two or three hours after the game is over—I’ll calm down and get back to usual. I just enjoy the game, and I think everyone should have an outlet where they can just let go. For me it’s basketball.
Outside of basketball, what’s your passion?
The sport of business. I just love to compete. There’s always somebody, you don’t even know who it is, out there trying to kick your ass and put you out of business. To me that’s the ultimate fun. It’s the challenge of always competing that gets me fired up more than anything. I just love being able to go into businesses and just f—k ’em up. When I got involved with basketball, everybody said, “You’re supposed to sit upstairs and just be a quiet little owner.” Now everybody says, “Well, you’ve got to be like Mark Cuban.” So it’s been a nice 180-degree turnaround.
Do you think you could get the Shark Tank judges to invest in you?
Oh, in a heartbeat, because I know what it takes. I’m not going to go and pitch something unless I know it better than them. I’m not going to go out there unless I know my numbers cold. I’m not going to even think about the business unless I know it’s going to be successful. And those guys are wusses. I’d kick their asses either way.
Any advice for a guy with a great idea?
My best advice is ideas aren’t worth shit. The hard part is putting together all the pieces. Most people think it’s about connections or money, when the reality is most businesses don’t get off the ground for lack of brains or lack of effort. Most people just aren’t willing to put in the effort to figure it all out to get in the position to start the company. My advice is always going to be, for whatever business you are starting, you’ve got to be the smartest guy to start that business; otherwise, the people already there are going to kick your ass.
Cuban’s Words Of Wisdom
I was at a blackjack table in Vegas, and I didn’t know whether to hit or stick. The dealer says to me, “No balls, no babies.” Either you’re in or you’re out, right? The other thing was something from Bobby Knight—not his original saying, but he said, “Everybody’s got the will to win, but it’s only those with the will to prepare that actually do win.” Everybody’s going to tell you, “I’ve got the will to win; I’m passionate.” If you really want to know where your future is, look at your effort.
Quick questions. Quick answers.
- Dwyane Wade. Um, fashion backward.
- America. Pride.
- Music. Worst business on the planet.
- Cheat. Not worth it.
- Kobe. Ball hog.
- Failure. Motivation.
- Lebron. Champ.
- Money. All I do is win.
For more rapid fire answers from the entrepreneur watch him play our 60-second word association game right here.