Mark Cuban Answers a Few Questions about Business, Life, and Sharktank

Dec 26 2012

Mark Cuban was on Reddit the other day taking questions and amongst all the typical Reddit chit chat and comments was some great stuff.  I thought it would be nice to have all the questions organized and filtered down (basically took out the Dallas questions). There is some fantastic advice and again Cuban shows why he is one one of today’s business leaders.

Q. What was Mark Cuban like growing up?

Cuban: No different than anyone else. Loved sports. Went to public school

Q: What’s the most expensive gift you purchased for anyone this xmas?

Cuban:  Under $200

Q: I hate to be so straight forward, but what does a billionaire buy his kids for Christmas?

Cuban: the same junk that everyone else buys

Q: Do you ever feel your wealth is a product of being in the right place at the right time (in relation to the internet bubble of the late 90’s)? Do you think you’d be able to find similar success if you were graduating college today?

A: I’ve made a lot of money from a lot of different companies i have started, but there is no question i made the most money because i knew what i was doing on the net when the internet bubble hit..  Timing didnt make me rich, i was there already. But it put a B next to my name

Q: What is something everyone should know before starting a small business?

Cuban: Its not about the idea, its about how prepared you are. Everyone has ideas, most dont do the work required to get the job done. The 2nd thing you need to know is that sales are the most important aspect of a small business. No sales, no company.

Q: What makes a successful business executive and what do you look for in your prospective hires? I’m a young guy with a lot of real world experience (started in PE, now work at a portco in a finance / bus dev role), and I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth getting an MBA or if I should just focus on moving up in our portfolio

Cuban: I think an MBA is an absolute waste of money. If you have a hole in your knowledge base , there are a ton of online courses you can take. I dont give any advantage to someone in hiring because they have an mba

Q: What advice would you give to an undecided college student finished with general studies and eager to get a degree?

Cuban: Pick a school that you can afford to go to. Dont take on debt. Debt is the anchor you dont want when you graduate. It will force you do to things that may not be in your best long term interests

Q. I will be graduating from college with degree in marketing in May. Do you have any advice for someone who would like to work in professional sports?

Cuban:  Don’t.  Get a real job

Q: You came in to my work and tipped 100 on a 50 dollar tab. You made the waitresses night. You sir, are a gentleman.

Cuban: I worked as a bartender and waiter. I always try to tip well

Q: Have you ever “made it rain”?

Cuban: No. thats dumb shit that people with real money dont do

Q: Have you noticed a slowing down of series A funding in the tech startup world and if so, what are your thoughts?
Cuban: There is a HUGE bubble in the Valley for tech startups. The valuations have gotten out of hand. When valuations go up beyond the reality point, the funding goes down. Its almost become like the movie business was 10 years ago. THere was so much dumb money coming in and so few actually making money that the suckers finally wised up.

 Q: On Jimmy Kimmel, you mentioned you clicked the receipt button once at an ATM to check your checking account balance and it being some insane number (around $300K if I remember correctly). Have you checked recently to see what it was?

Cuban: Yes and its more insane. I keep a lot of cash available for investments.Most people throw their money at investments trying to beat inflation or the market. I wait until somebody does something stupid and try to pounce. that is where the best deals are made

Q. 1) When you buy something on Amazon or something, do you ever look at the prices? Or do you just buy whatever looks good and have it ship overnight?

2) Let’s say that you’re looking for a new mp3 player and earbuds and can’t decide which to buy, do you just buy whatever one you think is best? Or do you just go “fuck this, I’m a billionaire, and I’ll just buy everything & throw away the rest”

3) Speaking of which, what kind of laptop do you own? And mp3 player? Are they customized or are they whatever is on the market?

Cuban:

  1. I always look at the prices. And I belong to Prime to get better rates
  2. I buy the one i like. I dont throw shit away like that
  3. I have a MacBook Air, but am trying the new Acer with Windows 8. I really, really like Windows 8 on my phone. I have 2 phones. first is samsung the 2nd was an Iphone5. THe new Nokia with windows replaced my Iphone 5

Q . What?  You mean you don’t use T-Mobile 4G

Cuban:  I actually do on my samsung. I love the tmobile wifi calling option. I love the open Android and Samsung platforms. I use a replacement keyboard sw which increases my typing speed (i still miss the speed typing on my sidekick).

I love myIPad and my macbook air is amazing when it doesnt crash, so i like apple products, but i think as far as phones, both Samsung 3 w android and the windows phone kick the Iphone’s ass. Its not even close.

Q: So the most recent season of Shark Tank has a lot of T-Mobile product placement. Is it really as cheesy to do as it is to watch on tv?

Cuban: It is beyond cheesey. none of the sharks like it. but we learned from it and it will be different in the future

Q: Hey Mark, how close did you come to buying the Cubs?

Cuban: Not close at all. When I couldnt get the owner of the Cubs to sit in a room with me that pretty much told me it wasnt going to happen. I never made a final formal bid

Q: What are you most proud of?

Cuban: my family. in particular my kids. I’m excited about the Mavs and what we are doing at AXS TV and really what we are doing at all my businesses

Q: First off, thanks for being outspoken about the broken patent laws.

It’s been a little over a month since you decided to step back a bit from Facebook and, as you put it, moved it to the bottom of a long list. I know a month may not be a very long time to give a good sign of how that’s going, but I am still curious how you feel this has affected your brands, if at all? I imagine more emphasis on other social networks may benefit you in other ways, but I am very curious to hear how your drawback from Facebook has been so far.

Cuban: Actually it has really helped. IN particular for AXS.TV (http://www.axs.tv )

while we continue to use FB and even invested in a company, www.bad.gy that works to optimize facebook, we have taken the time to explore the new myspace, work on tumblr, pinterest and other options. I think FB is going to have some challenges going forward. Its going to be interesting to see what happens from a user perspective.

Q: How has stepping away from marketing on FaceBook helped AXS? Curious, if you don’t mind going into a bit more detail.

Cuban: it made us take a hard look at the other options and really get involved with them as a hedge. I believe the aggregate value of the other options will offer more opportunity for brands than FB alone

Q.  I have a couple questions about Shark Tank.What has been your favorite product pitched on the show even if you didn’t invest? What is Kevin O’Leary AKA Mr. Wonderful like off camera?

Cuban.  There is a guy selling belts that will be on this season. he was my fave that i didnt do. and Kev O is just your every day money grubbing, financial engineer . Unless he is drinking. then he is a blast :_ jk

Q: How do you like being on the “shark tank”? Is it very scripted or do you guys speak freely?

Cuban: Shark tank is not scripted at all. When the entrepreneur walks into the shark tank the ONLY thing we know is their first name. NOTHING else. The only “Scripted” part of the show is this…..the producers tell us before every show —If an entrepreneur looks like they are going to cry, shut up and let them. They love tears. Thats the only scripting

Q: On Shark Tank, how many of the deals get modified or cancelled after the cameras stop rolling? Also, have you ever decided to make a deal with someone after the cameras stop?

Cuban: We get the chance to do due diligence after the show. As a result you uncover things that were not brought up in the show , so its not unusual for a deal to fall through in the DD phase. I have had things like people who never paid their taxes, people who lied on the show, people who didnt think that if they spent money on their personal credit cards it should be considered an expense., you name it.There is so much pressure on the entrepeneur during the show that sometimes they say what they think we want to hear rather than the truth. The DD helps us separate the two

Q. How many of the deals have you had to break off in the DD phase?

A: Probably about 25pct of them have something wrong

Q.  Did the iwanttodrawacatforyou partnership work out for you?

Cuban:  Absolutely.  He has already paid back my initial investment

Q: How many of your investments on Shark Tank actually make a profit?

Cuban: ive only lost money on 1, toygaroo

Q: What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen someone do whilst trying to pitch their product on Shark Tank? I’m talking either on or off air, preferably the latter.

A: The ion watch deal was pretty much it. You cant come on expecting to scam us. We will nail you.

 Source of the original Q and A


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