One on One with Mark Cuban

By: 

Managing Editor

Not only is Mark Cuban the billion-dollar owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, he is an entrepreneur, an author and a star of the hit TV show “Shark Tank” on ABC.

Investor and business adviser Guy Kawasaki led a one-on-one with Cuban in front of a jam-packed crowd Saturday at South by Southwest Interactive. With laughs from the audience throughout, Cuban spoke candidly about his humble beginnings as an entrepreneur, the digital realm, sports and what’s next for him.

Before he became the success he is today, Cuban admitted he “didn’t really have a clue” when he was younger about how exactly to begin a business. Bartending at night, Cuban said he used to sleep on the floor while sharing a three-bedroom apartment with six of his friends when he was in his early 20s trying to make ends meet.

When discussing how he has evolved as an entrepreneur, Cuban gave some behind-the-scenes insight regarding his role on “Shark Tank.” He affirmed the deals and investments made on the show are, in fact, real, and he is always ready to financially support business owners who have a unique perspective, are intelligent and “work their asses off.” The five “sharks” back about 60 to 70 percent of the deals presented to them in any given season, but 20 to 25 percent of them aren’t shown on TV, he said.

“The one thing that is absolutely phenomenal about ‘Shark Tank’ is it reinforces that the American dream is alive and well,” Cuban said. “It’s the number one show watched by families altogether. If we’re getting kids excited about starting companies, I’ll do it for years.”

Another business venture Cuban recently developed is called “Cyber Dust,” an app for iPhones and Androids that will release next month. He describes the app as “Snapchat for text,” so information will be displayed on phones briefly and will disappear after a few seconds.

“I think we’re going through a rapid change. You’re realizing everything you say or do in the digital world lives forever,” Cuban said. “I created ‘Cyber Dust’ because once you send a text (now), you have no idea where it goes or what happens from there.”

Regarding the sports-affiliated aspect of his career, Kawasaki asked Cuban about his position on openly gay professional players. Cuban quickly replied—“So what? There’s no reason for it to be a big deal now. (For those against it,) I mean there’s f**king morons everywhere.”

As far as his advice for mixing business and sports, Cuban said effort is the one thing that can always be controlled despite anything else going on in life, which he feels many people often forget.

For the recent college graduate, Cuban had this reassuring advice to share—“You paid all that money to learn, now here’s your chance to get paid to learn. You don’t need the perfect job.”

When reflecting on his life, Cuban said every day is a “bucket list” because he wants to experience everything while remaining self-aware along the way.

“I liked my life when I was poor,” Cuban said. “I like being normal, and I want my kids to be normal. I want them to be defined by who they are. I don’t want it to be about me.”