The Cuban Report
Mark Cuban BS’81
Owner, Dallas Mavericks; President and CEO of HDNet; Dallas, Texas
He’s a maverick with a capital “M,” a benefactor with a capital “B.” An entrepreneur who has the uncanny ability to stay one step ahead of the technology curve. A marketing alchemist who turns bad publicity into gold. A blogger, billionaire, and basketball impresario.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and technology-savvy co-founder of a small entertainment empire, knows an opportunity when he sees one—and he knows how to get the most out of it. He says he chose the Kelley School of Business sight-unseen because it had the least expensive tuition of all the business schools on the top 10 list. Since graduating from IU in 1981, his return on investment has been astronomical.
With a net worth of over $2.3 billion, Cuban is #133 on the most recent Forbes “400 Richest Americans” list.
“I learned to challenge myself at IU,” he says. “There were so many resources. Not just in the classroom, but the libraries, the city, the profs. I knew someday I wanted to run my own business, so everything I did was geared toward getting there.”
In fact, he started realizing his dream of owning his own business before he even graduated. And his reputation as a maverick had some origins in Bloomington too. When he turned 21, he bought a popular college hangout on Kirkwood Avenue called Motley’s Pub. Before that he gave disco lessons at sororities and says he paid for his junior year with a chain letter.
He’s come a long way from those days, and even farther from his first entrepreneurial experience as a 12-year-old kid in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, selling trash bags door-to-door. After graduating from IU, his first venture was a computer consulting firm, MicroSolutions, which he sold to Compuserve. In 1995, he and fellow Kelley alumnus Todd Wagner teamed up to create Broadcast.com, which used streaming technology to broadcast live on-demand sports and entertainment programs. Just four years later, they sold the company to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in stock and cashed everything in before the dot-com bomb.
Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks from Ross Perot Jr. for $285 million in January 2000. He quickly gained a reputation that matched the team’s name, keeping a running commentary on the game and the officiating from his seats near the team bench. But bold and brash won the day: ticket sales skyrocketed and Cuban helped build the Mavericks into a play-off team.
His celebrity bypassed even the Donald’s when he starred in 2005 on the ABC reality TV show The Benefactor, on which he gave away $1 million to the winner.
Now Cuban is co-founder, chairman, and president of HDNet, which operates two cable channels, HDNet and HDNet Movies, for which all programming is produced in high-definition. And he remains in business partnership with college buddy Wagner in the movie production companies HDNet Films and 2929 Productions, theatrical and home video distributor Magnolia Pictures, the Landmark Theatres art-house chain, and a minority stake in Lions Gate Entertainment.
Using several of these properties, Cuban and Wagner have launched an innovative “day-and-date” strategy in which they release films simultaneously across theatrical, television, and home video platforms, collapsing the traditional release windows and giving consumers a choice of how, when, and where they see a movie.
Cuban stays connected with IU; he’s visited campus to speak to Kelley students at the IU Auditorium, exhorting them to “test conventional wisdom and challenge the status quo.” And IU Kelley Professor of Decision Sciences Wayne Winston counts Cuban among his top consulting clients, providing (along with business partner and college football rankings guru Jeff Sagarin, MBA’83) basketball data analysis.
Professor Winston was impressed with Cuban’s work ethic as a student, and that opinion still holds true. “He always had a commitment to hard work … from what I know of him, he just works all the time. I don’t think he sleeps much,” he said in an interview with Indiana Alumni magazine.
When the rest of the world sleeps, Mark Cuban blogs. His site is both a forum for self-expression and a canny marketing tool. His blogs range from his opinions on hedge funds to predictions about the future of the music business.
“Send me your ideas for television shows,” he encourages readers in one blog entry. Step aside, Stephen Colbert, and make way for The Cuban Report. And don't forget to watch Cuban on ABC's popular reality TV show, "Dancing with the Stars".
- What motivates you?
“Competition. I love to compete and business is the ultimate sport. The level of competition in the business world blows away anything I have seen in professional sports.”
- What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
“Everyone has the will to succeed, only those who have the will to prepare do.”
- How do you feel about Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business?
“IU means that I always have someplace to come back to, and IU was the place where I learned how to learn. Great people, great opportunity, great school. It means a lot to me.”