Mark Cuban on Donald Trump - It's Fascinating!
By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
There's the old saying about "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
It's quite fascinating to read about Mark Cuban's attacks on Donald Trump, as if Cuban is a man of great unblemished accomplishments; a business scion; a model of social decorum.
Mark Cuban may have been the luckiest person ever involved in the Internet and new media. He may not be worth what other Internet rich people are worth, people like Zuckerberg or Bezos, but he was far luckier then them. Zuckerberg and Bezos had to create something that people use, something that may actually have value.
Mark Cuban built a junk company, Audio.com, whose greatest achievement was that it angered radio station owners and show producers from coast-to-coast. Although some may say that that is an accomplishment, it's a spurious accomplishment at best. In the days of Audio.com, Cuban over-promised, and under-delivered on what he claimed he could do for his radio clients (huge audience and ratings numbers by streaming the radio broadcasts on the Internet). It never happened. He charged money for the service, but delivered zip - or next-to-zip.
Faced with stagnation, Cuban renamed his company Broadcast.com. His new idea was to take all his "great" accomplishments with audio webcasting and extend it to video webcasting. The last time I personally spoke to him was at a very early streaming media conference in the Los Angeles area (circa late 1997).*
Cuban was proudly showing off his Broadcast.com brainstorm for the Internet: The Bonanza Channel and The Andy Of Mayberry Channel; two breakthrough concepts that he was sure would change the world. (Did someone say Schmuck Tank, er I mean Shark Tank?)
Yes, that's right, 24 hours a day of streaming broadcasts of the great TV shows "Bonanza" and "The Andy Griffith Show." And on the strength of this concept, Cuban was able to take his company public and raise a fortune of money. Keep in mind that this occurred during the hey-day of the scam Internet IPOs, so Cuban's idea didn't stick out like the sore thumb it should have. Instead it was just another run-of-the-mill worthless, profitless bad idea that some people were pouring billions of dollars into. Was it the best of times or the worst of times, to paraphrase Charles Dickens? Well, it was the time when financial advisors proudly shouted "Profits don't matter, experience is irrelevant, all that matters is that they have a dotcom after their business name!"
Needless to say, neither the Bonanza Channel nor the Andy Of Mayberry Channel ever launched, or if they did they sunk shortly thereafter. But the best part of this story is that in securing the rights to Bonanza, Cuban was not able to get the rights to the show's theme music, which may be the second best western theme music ever created (2nd behind Magnificent Seven's theme). In essence, he acquired something like the rights to tell The Beatles story, but he couldn't use their music.
So armed with nothing except a ridiculous notion of what his junk company was worth, he or some sales guy went off looking for a suitor. Keep in mind that Mark Cuban invented no technologies, he was not the pioneer in either audio streaming or video streaming, and he had built no company that earned a profit. They found a pigeon, and they sold the pigeon the Brooklyn Bridge, so to speak. The pigeon was Yahoo! and Cuban's company received nearly $5 billion dollars from Yahoo!
I'm not suggesting that in soaking Yahoo! for $5 billion that Cuban did anything wrong, but in the year's subsequent to that transaction, whenever I heard someone refer to Mark Cuban as a brilliant businessman, I had to laugh. Cuban wasn't a brilliant businessman, he was a lucky businessman, an extremely super-lucky businessman. He "won Super Lotto" by chance, but people were crediting him as if he invented the numbers 1-100.
I still laugh about it today, because while it's very possible that he has learned something about business in the ensuing years, I rather doubt that he's actually translated the experiences into anything that resembles knowledge.
Cuban used some of his new wealth to buy the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, and it's this ownership that allowed Mark Cuban to become considered the clown prince of basketball. Who can forget his court-side antics and rants that have so far cost him millions of dollars? Perhaps Donald Trump's debate behavior, which many people including Cuban have criticized, is simply Donald emulating the behavior of his erstwhile friend Mark. After all, if a person can get so riled up over trying to win a dopey basketball game, why shouldn't someone be just as boisterous in trying to win the U.S. presidency - a far more important contest?
Yes, I know that $2 million is probably just chump change to Cuban, especially since it's not like he really had to go out and earn the money, but the dollar amount is not the important point. The important point is the axiom I began this article with, "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
To the best of my knowledge, no building ever constructed by Donald Trump has collapsed when hit by the first gust of wind. If Mark Cuban avoided serious charges of business improprieties with Audio.com and Broadcast.com it probably was simply because he was flying under everyone's radar, and then he got out in time. Yahoo's inability to capitalize on its acquisition of Broadcast.com is very likely mostly due to their own incompetence, but it's just as likely to have been because Broadcast.com was a "building without a solid foundation" and ready to collapse.
I suspect that Mark Cuban's appearance at the first debate, if he is indeed there, will be because he is hoping to learn something from someone else's experience.
*I was present at the streaming media conference because I was also a seminar presenter at the conference, showing off The Auto Channel's live streaming video achievements. We were the first website to use streaming video over the Internet in February 1996. My conversation with Mark Cuban involved us laughing about the silly time when Cuban's company Audio.com infringed on our right to broadcast the 1996 Indianapolis 500 race over the Internet. Hahahaha, he didn't know that he needed permission to broadcast someone else's intellectual property, hahaha. It really was a good-natured conversation. I found Mark Cuban to be a very nice guy.