You might know Mark Cuban as an entrepreneur, investor, and inventor. Or as an actor, reality television star, and movie producer. Wait, isn’t he also a philanthropist, network genius, and owner of a professional basketball franchise? Yes, yes, and yes. He’s all of the above – and more. Cuban has made fortunes in realms as varied as entertainment, business, computers, and sports. Yet, he’s as well known for his brash ideas and bold statements. He’s a man of many interests – and sometimes, it seems as if he’s only getting started.
A native of Pittsburgh, Mark Cuban grew up in a middle-class family, developing his business acumen and relentless work ethic from his grandfather, a Russian immigrant who sold goods out of a truck to support his family. Nothing exemplified this better than when Cuban left high school after his junior to take classes at nearby University of Pittsburgh, which he left after a year to attend Indiana University. He graduated in 1981 with a B.Sc. in Business Administration.
His First Fortune
Mark Cuban didn’t make his first million from investing but from following one of his passions. After graduating from Indiana in 1981, Cuban went back home to work for Mellon Bank just as it was switching all its systems to computers. Cuban hit the books on his own to learn about computers and networking while at Mellon. He became an expert, but it didn’t prevent him from soon getting bored of Pittsburgh.
In 1982, Cuban moved to Dallas, where he sold software for a year before starting his own company, a consulting business called MicroSolutions. With his expertise in networking and computers, as well as his inherent knack for building a company, Cuban grew the company until selling it for nearly $6 million in 1990.
Another Passion Leads to Billions
Mark Cuban has always been a basketball fan, and his alma mater Indiana has one of the richest collegiate basketball histories in the country. After he sold MicroSolutions, Cuban wanted a way to listen online to his beloved Hoosiers play their basketball games. His networking and computer aptitude had him convinced of an undiscovered world on the horizon in the form of the then-fledgling Internet, so he and a fellow IU alum formed AudioNet in 1995 to listen to Hoosier basketball games online. It proved to be a resounding success. They later renamed it to Broadcast.com, worked to grow it quickly, and then went public in 1998. A year later, they sold it to Yahoo! for nearly $6 billion.
Taking the NBA by Storm
In 2000, Mark Cuban entered the NBA. He had been a season ticket holder of the Dallas Mavericks for several years, so Cuban decided to follow his dream of owning a professional sports franchise and purchased the Mavericks for $250 million from Ross Perot, Jr.
Immediately, he changed the culture of what at the time was a sad-sack franchise. He signed new players and a new coach, built a new arena, and started treating players and other personnel better. In a sense, he revolutionized professional sports franchise ownership: being hands-on, keeping visible, sitting with the fans at games, yelling at other teams, blogging, criticizing refs, and zinging other owners who were out of touch with the regular fan.
Cuban’s brash remarks and brazen who-cares-what-others-think attitude have gotten him into hot water with the NBA often, to whom it’s estimated he’s paid over $2 million in fines. He’s even criticized Major League Baseball for suspending players for using PEDs and likened former Commissioner to a mafia boss.
Since Basketball, He’s Only Gotten More Visible
Mark Cuban manages to stay in the news. He was charged in 2004 by the Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading, but the case was dismissed in 2009 and again in 2013 after it was reinstated. He is chairman of his own television network (AXS TV) and owns film distribution company Magnolia Pictures and movie theater chain Landmark Theatres. He’s also produced TV shows and movies and been featured in several films and television programs, most notably on Shark Tank and Dancing with the Stars.
If it seems like Cuban is everywhere, you’re not imagining things. He’s heavily involved in philanthropy and is always looking for new ways to expand his wealth by investing in or buying into opportunities he deems profitable. He’s written a motivational book: How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It. In 2015, he even claimed he could beat both Clinton and Trump in the 2016 election.
So, yes, Cuban is everywhere. Get used to it – he shows no signs of slowing down, yet no one knows where he’ll take his passion and interests next.