How did Mark Cuban become one of the richest people in the world?
The protagonist of this story is Mark Cuban, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 31, 1958, and grew up in the suburbs of Mt. Lebanon, being part of a hard-working lower/middle-class Jewish family.
His father was engaged in automotive upholstery, and his mother changed jobs from time to time.
Originally, the family name was “Chabenisky”, however, when Mark‘s grandparents came to the United States from Russia, immigration officials changed their last name to “Cuban”, still without a clear explanation as to why this happened. that.
As a child, Mark was passionate about basketball, disco music, technology, movies, and business, tastes that, during his adulthood, he tried to mix to prosper in life, earning money while doing things he loved.
At an early age, he understood that to get what he wanted, he had to work hard, so he took his first step into the business world when he was just 12 years old. The boy wanted some expensive basketball shoes that he loved, but his parents couldn’t afford them, so he decided to start selling garbage bags so he could buy them.
While in high school, he held a wide variety of jobs, including bartender, disco dance instructor, and party setter, always upholding the family philosophy of thrift and hard work. He also sold baseball chips and cards door-to-door, even taking advantage of a Post-Gazette strike to bring in newspapers from nearby Cleveland to sell to the people of Pittsburgh.
Mark was clear that the key to success was taking advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves to offer people what they were looking for, and for this reason, he was always selling or investing in something.
His first failures in the world of work and business
In his senior year of high school, he decided to drop out of college to go directly to a technical school at the University of Pittsburgh as a full-time student. The following year, he transferred to Indiana University Bloomington, graduating from the Kelley School of Business in 1981 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He later recounted that he chose that university without visiting the campus, but simply because it was the school with the cheapest tuition of all the top 10 business schools in the United States.
In the late 1980s, accountant Paul Terhorst published the book Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35, which would be a major influence and inspiration on Mark‘s career. From him, he learned the philosophy of saving a lot of money and living like a student, one of the main ideas of the book.
Mark didn’t do the same thing as most university students to acquire a loan to pay for his studies, but he paid for it by giving Disco dance classes or with the income from a chain letter business he started in his spare time.
After saving enough, he decided to invest to open a bar for students. This shocked her teachers, who had never seen one of her students go into business while they were still in school. Thanks to the boy’s determination, this bar became one of the most successful in the city of Bloomington. However, because he was constantly looking for new ideas, one of his tactics caused the collapse of the business, since, in an attempt to attract more clients, he organized wet shirt contests with girls modeling. Although he was in charge of controlling the documents of each participant, one of the events did not end well because one of the girls had falsified her documents, and, in addition to being a minor, she was also on probation for prostitution. One of the watchmen discovered this, and when the local newspapers carried the news, it spelled the end of the bar. Despite this, Mark Cuban is grateful that this happened, because, if not, he would continue working at the bar and would have missed out on the wonderful things that he experienced from that moment on.
After graduating, he began working at the Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh just as financial institutions were just beginning to transition to computers. There he became very interested in technology and was the one who ended up completely changing the company’s operations process, going from paper to computer systems on computers. In addition, since he always had a penchant for networks, during his stay at the bank he created a mini-project within the company itself that consisted of having a newsletter and a group called Rocky Cloud, in which the younger employees of the company could have easy access to communicate with the senior executives so that they could listen to their ideas for improving the bank.
Although the initiative might sound interesting, and Mark‘s intentions were only to help the company earn more money, his boss did not like it at all and made it very clear:
“He told me that I could never act above him or else he would crush me, so it was at that moment that I realized I had to get out of there.” -Mark explained in an interview.
Frustrated by what happened, he decided to resign, because he realized that he would not achieve anything else there.
After this event, he returned to Indiana, at the age of 23. While there, he went to work at a franchise called Tronics 2000, where they repaired televisions. The following year, he moved to the city of Dallas, Texas, and settled in a three-bedroom apartment that he had to share with 5 other people. Since they did not have enough beds, they had to take turns and each one slept occasionally on the sofa or even on the floor.
At that time, the young man had little money, since his salary was barely enough for him, so he began to look for business opportunities to undertake.
His first business in this new phase of his life consisted of selling powdered milk. Unfortunately, the business failed and had to close soon after. This failure disillusioned him and forced him to have to look for a job again.
After working as a bartender in a club, he found a job ad in a newspaper for a PC software company called Your Business Software. This company was a technology retailer and one of the first to sell software, which caught the young man’s attention. The advertisement had been placed by an employment agency. Mark would have loved to say that his conversational skills and clothing impressed the agency enough for them to set him up for an interview, but in reality, hardly anyone was applying for the job, so the agency would have sent just anyone. that would apply
In one of his motivational blogs, Mark recounts that he was excited about the job as it was his chance to jump right into the computer business, an industry that had interested him for a long time.
During the interview, he remembers being asked a question to which an honest answer would land him the job. Doug, one of the store’s owners, asked him what he would do if a customer had a question about a software package and didn’t know the answer. Mark just said that he would just search the manual until he found the answer for them, and that was enough to win the job. So he began his career in the tech industry as a software salesman who also had to clean the floor and make sure the store was always open on time. His salary was $18,000 a year, plus an extra sales commission.
Despite his enormous passion for technology, he admits that, until then, he had never used an IBM PC, so he felt the need to start learning deeply about software and computers. To achieve this, he set out to read a different manual every night, until he became a true expert, earning the trust and respect of clients for the honest recommendations he provided. After 6 months, he had already built a clientele of his own. In parallel, he spent hours on the store’s computers, learning how to install, configure and run the software. From this apprenticeship, he began offering software consulting and installation services for $25 an hour., sharing the income with the company for which he worked.
As his computer skills increased, his income and reputation also increased. He received more and more extra fees for consulting services, he obtained good references and other companies spoke to him on the phone to make new deals; This is how he managed to close a deal with a local consultant who paid him referral fees, which led to him getting a $1,500 commission check.
“When you’re just starting out, you may or may not have a job. You have no money. You have complete uncertainty about your career. But, what I learned early on is that if I put in the effort, I can learn almost anything… The reality is that most people don’t take the time to keep up and learn. That has always given me a competitive advantage.” -Affirms Mark Cuban .
Thanks to this professional and financial growth, he was able to move from the apartment to one where he only shared it with 2 other people, instead of 5, and it was the first time in his life that he had more than 1,000 dollars in the bank. This was a special time for him: he was building a loyal customer base, beginning to understand technology, and establishing himself as someone who knew about software, as well as realizing that he loved working with computers. But, although everything seemed to be getting better and better in his life, his desire to show his own initiative again was the cause of his dismissal…
One day, 9 months later, he was presented with the opportunity to close a deal at 9 in the morning for a sale of 15 thousand dollars, which would earn him good commissions. Mark told his boss that he was going to close the deal during his work hours and that someone would cover for him when he was away. His boss told him not to go since he had to open the store, but Mark, excited by the opportunity and thinking that with the check he could impress him, went to see the client. When he returned to the office with a check in hand after closing the deal, his boss fired him on the spot for disobeying him.
Although Mark lost out, he considers that this was the most determining factor in his life as an entrepreneur. From that day on, he would never forget the boss who fired him, because that man taught him the way he would never want to lead his projects.
Turning your expertise into multi-million dollar companies
After being laid off from three consecutive jobs, it was time to start anew, and with the knowledge and experience from his last job, he decided to start a PC consulting company, which he called MicroSolutions. He now had the support of customers who knew him from the software store, and both dealing with them and having forged good business relationships were undoubtedly the foundations of the success of the new software company. the.
MicroSolutions was initially a company dedicated to systems integration and reselling software, which was also one of the first to offer advanced technologies at the time, such as Carbon Copy, Lotus Notes, or CompuServe, with Perot as one of its most important clients. systems.
Always keeping abreast of the latest computer news, Mark had a hunch that the data transfer process using disks would soon be superseded by the interconnection of computers, so in 1990, he sold his company to CompuServe, a subsidiary of H&R Block, for $6 million, earning an approximate profit of $2 million after taxes.
Elated by the success of his business, he decided to use some of the money he earned to retire and enjoy life for at least 5 years. Already a millionaire at 32, he bought a lifetime ticket on American Airlines to travel the world. But, the money frenzy led him to make bad decisions. He began to travel and spend immeasurably much of his capital on parties.
After a while, he ventured into the exciting field of financial markets. With what was left of his money, he began to invest and increased his capital to more than $20 million thanks to stock speculation.
Although he had enough money to rest for the rest of his life, his early retirement did not last long, since in 1995 his entrepreneurial capacity would lead him to embark on a new business project. This time around, the ambitious businessman teamed up with two old college friends to found AudioNet, which would eventually become Broadcast.com, an Internet radio company dedicated to broadcasting sporting events.
The company expanded rapidly, eventually offering hundreds of sports channels, radio shows, product launches, and fashion shows. The broadcast was one of the first online radio sites in the world, and when it went public in 1998, the stock enjoyed a boost from the dot-com boom, going from $18 to $75 in just one day.
By 1999, the project had grown exponentially, with 330 employees and revenues of more than $13.5 million for the second quarter of the year. That same year, Broadcast was purchased by Yahoo! to the tune of $5.7 billion, making Mark Cuban a billionaire at just 40 years old, just before the dot-com bubble burst.
In an interview with Money magazine, the successful businessman made clear his strategy to become a billionaire:
“The key is to live within your budget, save money, and put some money into a low-cost mutual fund. Living as austerely as possible will undoubtedly benefit you.”
Following your passions and venturing into new industries
After the sale of Broadcast, Mark diversified his wealth to avoid the risk of a stock market crash, and with the new millennium, in the year 2000, he ventures to spend $285 million to buy a majority of the shares of the Broadcast team. the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA, beginning a promising era for the club, going from only winning 40% of the games, to winning 69% of the time, reaching the playoffs in all but one season.
For Mark, a long-time basketball fan, the opportunity to be a part of the world of professional sports was a dream. The Mavericks, however, were far from being a successful team with a great following, as their results on the field had always left much to be desired. The team always suffered from bad hiring decisions at the technical levels and from having mediocre players and coaches. The club experienced over a decade of basketball games outside of major NBA games.
Cuban used his new role as an owner to change that immediately. With his characteristic enthusiasm and tenacity, he revamped the culture of the team and its roster, built a new stadium, and gave his best players everything they needed to stay in shape. In addition, he proved to be the biggest promoter of the club. By choosing to sit with the fans, he provoked opposing fans and taunted the umpires, to which the Mavericks responded by feeling more encouraged and playing much better at the attention the new owner was paying them, although these situations also earned him much controversy. , fines, or complaints by the league or the media. The team qualified for the playoffs in 2001, set a winning record the following year, and reached the 2006 NBA Finals before losing to the Miami Heat. In 2011, the Mavericks finally won the NBA title by defeating the Heat.
Mark also brought a touch of innovation to his ownership of the team. He was the first owner to launch his own blog, which featured a dizzying mix of his own insights and technological thoughts on NBA basketball. The blog became wildly popular, receiving thousands of emails a day from its readers.
In the following years, the Dallas Mavericks continued to grow as a team and as a company, reaching a market value of more than 2.7 billion dollars, consolidating itself as one of the most valuable sports teams in the world according to Forbes magazine.
In 2013, Mark Cuban launched a digital book entitled “How to win in the sport of business”, in which he chronicles his experiences in business and basketball. There he wrote:
“It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. In business, to be successful, you only have to get it right once. One time and you already have it for life. That is the beauty of the business world.”
Personal life and other facets of Mark Cuban
Regarding his personal life, Mark married in September 2002 with Tiffany Stewart, an executive who worked in an advertising agency. From this union, 3 children were born. The entire family lives together in Preston Hollow, Dallas, in a gigantic 24,000-square-foot mansion.
In 2004, the successful businessman launched his own television show, called The Benefactor, a program that responds to his passion for business and that sought to help various entrepreneurs materialize their companies. This show was compared to Donald Trump‘s show The Apprentice; however, although Mark offered the winner a 1 million dollar prize, the show was not as successful as expected and was canceled after six episodes.
In another of his facets, Mark Cuban maintains some political and social activity, contributing thousands of dollars to political campaigns and supporting different social problems through his blog. In addition, he created the Mark Cuban stimulus plan, through which he supports and finances entrepreneurial ideas that have the potential to stimulate the economy.
As for the sports industry, he has not only been linked to basketball, but has also participated and performed in WWE, where, for example, he was attacked by RAW superstar Randy Orton, and was a guest referee on another occasion. . Another sport in which he tried to dabble was hockey, launching an offer to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins team, but the franchise rejected the proposal. And he had no luck trying to buy any Major League Baseball team either.
On the reality show Shark Tank, Mark Cuban has become popular for highly successful investments with great potential. He has invested in more than 80 companies across more than 100 episodes, with an estimated $22 million invested.
The four largest investments made by Mark in the show were in the following companies: Ten Thirty-One Productions, an entertainment company; Rugged Maniac, an annual obstacle course; Hy-Conn, a company dedicated to the manufacture of quick connectors for hoses; and BeatBox Beverages, a company that sells boxed wine-based punch; each with at least an investment of 1 million dollars, according to statistical data from the program.
Since Mark‘s arrival on the show in 2011 for its second season, the show’s ratings have skyrocketed, while Shark Tank has won three Emmy Awards for TV Shows during his tenure on each season. Primetime schedule.
Mark Cuban: The billionaire who achieved success by following his passions
Currently, Mark Cuban is 64 years old and has a fortune of more than $4.6 billion, ranking on the list of the 1,000 richest people in the world according to Forbes magazine. According to a recent interview, he has begun to venture into businesses that are not traditional, such as investing 80% of his money in cryptocurrencies, or in the company LuminAID LAB, dedicated to the manufacture of lighting devices that work with a solar rechargeable battery. Parallel to work, he has developed extensive philanthropic work. In June 2015, he made a donation of $5 million to his alma mater, Indiana University in Bloomington, to create the Mark Cuban Sports Media and Technology Center. And, in March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, he posted an offer on LinkedIn for small business owners who had questions about what to do and how to survive amid the economic downturn brought on by the crisis. . He told people they could ask him anything, but his preferred goal of him was to help small businesses that were trying to avoid layoffs and cut hours. There were more than 10,000 comments in response to your offer.
Thus we conclude the fascinating story of Mark Cuban, an ambitious, risk-taking, and visionary entrepreneur who found in business the opportunity to unleash all his passions, becoming one of the richest people in the world in the process and building multiple multi-billion dollar companies. in various sectors of the economy. In his own words:
“It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures… Then they shouldn’t matter to you either.”