Cuban: ‘You only have to get it right once’
Mark Cuban doesn’t know the answer to every question – it just seems that way.The animated Dallas Mavericks owner and self-proclaimed “luckiest guy in the world” showcased his knack for outside-the-box thinking Tuesday night during a conversation at Paepcke Auditorium.Cuban, who made the bulk of his fortune in 1999 when he sold his streaming internet service, Broadcast.com, to Yahoo, was in Aspen to speak on the future of digital technology.But as is the norm with the fast-talking, free-thinking Cuban, the “formal” conversation with Fortune senior editor David Kirkpatrick and Time Inc. senior advisor Norman Pearlstine veered off course numerous times.For example: Cuban thinks Hollywood’s current business is antiquated. It’s the reason he started his own production company – 2929 Entertainment – and purchased movie distributor Magnolia Pictures, home video distributor Magnolia Home Entertainment, the Landmark Theaters chain and a stake in Lions Gate Entertainment.
Since then, Cuban has gone against the grain with a business model that shuns accepted Hollywood thinking – including releasing films simultaneously in theaters, on DVD and on-demand on his digital movie channel HDNet Films.”People want what they want when they want it,” Cuban said.Cuban also expressed his concern about the current state of journalism, which he said has “gotten away from being ruthless … and in search of the truth.”Never one to shy from controversy, Cuban recently made recently retired CBS Anchor Dan Rather an offer to host a one-hour news show for his digital cable network, HDNet. Rather would have complete control to do the type of hard-nosed investigative reporting that Cuban said news networks like CBS used to do.”It’s about doing the stories that are important, and creating an environment where we’re not thinking about what are our advertisers thinking about,” Cuban said.On a lighter note, Cuban dished knowledge on how he turned around the Mavs – arguably the most dreadful sports franchise of the 1990s – after buying the team in 2000.
This season, Dallas beat defending NBA champion San Antonio to reach the NBA Finals before losing to the Miami Heat in six games.”There are some basic business principles that don’t apply to sports,” Cuban said. “When I bought the team, some of the changes I made were justcommon-sense stuff that’s a part of any business.”Cuban also brought an unmatched desire to win. A member of the audience asked if all of Cuban’s ventures had an underlying meaning – possibly a common objective of bringing people together.”I wish I could give you some altruistic reason to why I do this,” Cuban said. “The truth is, business is the ultimate competition. I’m the most competitive guy in the world. I’m not going to go out on the court and try to play basketball with Dirk Nowitzki, or Shaq, but I’m just as competitive as those guys. … Business is competition 24/7, 365, forever.”After the conversation, Cuban – whose blog on the Mavs is one of the most popular on the Internet – gave more insight into his enterprising methods as an owner while greeting fans and signing autographs.
“[Business sense and competitiveness] go hand in hand,” Cuban said. “The competitive side came from everyone saying: ‘That’s not the way things are done in the NBA.’ And then me saying, ‘Well, you know what? It’s worked for me in the past and if I sink I sink. If I swim, I swim. And if you don’t like it, I’ll show you where the tooshie doesn’t shine.’ That’s the competitive side of me. I just didn’t accept things the way they were.” As for the best business advice from a man who retired at 30 after selling his first company for millions, who then returned to start Broadcast.com, which when it sold gave Cuban a financial windfall of an estimated $1.7 billion?”I always knew that you only have to get it right once,” Cuban said earlier in the night. “Fortunately, I’ve got it right a couple times.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail is email@example.com
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