By all accounts, Mark Cuban mastered the art of buying low and selling high from an early age. He was known about his neighborhood for marketing everything from trash bags to stamps.
However, when Cuban went to school at Indiana University, he became the first student at that institution in either its undergraduate or MBA programs to start his business, a bar named Motley’s Pub, which became a favorite college hot spot. The bar fell on hard times when it was discovered that an underage girl had won a wet t-shirt contest, one of the first business-related controversies that Cuban found himself in.
Later, Cuban moved to Dallas where he worked as a bartender and a salesman for a company called Your Business Software. In 1982, after having been fired by the firm, he started his own computer-related business, MicroSolutions. Cuban’s first big company served as a software integrator and software reseller, with Perot Systems as a major customer. In 1990, Cuban sold MicroSolutions to Compuserve for $6 million.
Cuban’s next company was called Audionet, which eventually became Broadcast.com. The idea of an internet radio network in which one can listen to sports programming anywhere in the world actually came from a friend of Cuban’s. However, the business entrepreneur managed to get majority stake in the company by virtue of his business acumen. The public offering of Broadcast.com enjoyed the highest percentage increase in share price on opening day for a company at that point in time in the late 1990s.
Cuban expanded the reach of Broadcast.com to doing webcasts of special events, such as an annual show done by Victoria’s Secret. Cuban eventually sold the company to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in stock. While Yahoo, better known at the time as a search engine than a provider of Internet services, struggled with its new acquisition, Cuban shrewdly divested his Yahoo stock through a series of put and call transactions.
Now a billionaire, Cuban set out to conquer new worlds. One acquisition was the Dallas Mavericks basketball team in 2000. At the time the team was a struggling franchise. Through a combination of outside-the-box spending that saw to the comforts of his players and a flamboyant courtside manner that drew him numerous fines, Cuban build the Mavericks up into a winning team with a boost in attendance. His team finally won the NBA playoffs in 2011.
Cuban’s other 21st century ventures were in media, forming a company that integrated the production, distribution, and presentation of movies. His cable network, HDNet, was unsuccessful at first until he rebranded it as AXS TV that runs a combination of comedy, sports, and music programming.
Cuban currently funds a variety of start-ups and is one of the “Shark Investors” on “The Shark Tank.” Having weathered an SEC suit for insider trading, Cuban ascribes his success to regarding business as a sport, but played 24/7, 365 days a year.