Friday, June 13, 2014

Mark Cuban Lives Out a Dream

Bloomberg Game Changers profiles Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban. See how Cuban spun his love of basketball into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
I know Mark Cuban mainly as the outspoken, impassioned, and rebellious owner of the Dallas Mavericks.  Here was a man who looked more like the regular Joe, loud-mouthed fan, than he ever did an executive who owned the team.  In contrast, Pat Riley, former coach, then president, of the Miami Heat, dressed and groomed as if he belonged on the cover of every issue of GQ magazine.
In business, it's 24, by 7, by 365, and the whole world is trying to kick you ass.
Cuban clearly loved basketball, but his real passion at heart was business.  Younger brother Brian said he was an entrepreneur since Day One and probably invented the word.  He had a knack for making money, for instance, selling stamps as a little boy.  That knack seems to be in the DNA of some people.  Robert Kiyosaki characterized two different kinds of people: (a) those who were employee-oriented (Poor Dad) and (b) those who were employer-oriented (Rich Dad).  Cuban must've been Rich Dad right at birth.
Over the last 20 years, I've always been about what's new, what's next, and how am I getting there first.
Streaming live sports from the around world was a boon to the fast-rising internet in the 1990s.  While there was some iffy stuff about how Cuban and his partner acquired the platform for streaming, there was no question that he had the right vision, the right moxie, and the right business to elevate the concept to the BBC - Billionaire Boys Club.  It wasn't just a matter of focusing in on, but also of pursuing buyers for it.  Cuban was superb at selling in general: from products and services, to entire companies.  Right before the enormous tech bubble burst like the Hindenburg, he persuaded Yahoo! to buy for a whopping $5.7 billion in 1999.  What was next, in 2000, was the Mavericks.

In the meantime, Yahoo! struggled to execute on its cool, new toy.  They had a bunch of MBAs who didn't know how to integrate into the company.  In the process, they took their eyes off search, and new-kid-on-the-block Google came in like gangbusters in the late 1990s.  To the present, even with the photogenic and confident Marissa Mayer at the helm, Yahoo! seems plagued with ineptitude.  But that's another story altogether.
Somebody has got to be the luckiest person in the world, and I'm just glad it's me.
I love sports, and if (or when) I make my billion, I would like to own a team.  That would be a thrill, and make me another one of the luckiest in the world.  From the get-go, Cuban knew how to turn around the laughingstock of the NBA, into a playoff contender in one year.  From their locker room to their chartered jet, from the bigger crowd to the media exposure, the Mavericks saw the tsunami of good fortune sweep in.

This biography is testament to elemental fact: That no one is perfect, no one is a categorical success.  He crossed the line many times, and was fined to the tune of nearly half a million dollars, just in his first year as Mavericks owner.  Like Yahoo! with, Cuban struggled with the next iteration  He challenged convention, and released movies in the theaters, on TV, and on DVD simultaneously.  But these movies were only modest successes, at best.

The long-awaited championship for the Mavericks came in 2011.  The Heat were loaded for bear that year with the newly-minted triumvirate of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to go along with Dwayne Wade, and shot to the NBA Finals right away.  But it was the Mavericks year, and the fans were so grateful that they kept chanting Thank you, Mark over and over.  Terdeman Ussery, President and CEO of the Mavericks, said that thanking the owner was quite unique to hear.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

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