Mark Cuban is one of the richest and most famous people in the United States. This billionaire entrepreneur is a widely outspoken fan of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team he owns. He’s known as the blue-collar billionaire for sitting in the stands with fans to watch games and donating fines to charity.
So, how did Mark Cuban make his money?
He’s a business genius who started in the tech industry. But the story of how Mark Cuban made his money isn’t necessarily one of creating successful technologies. You likely use Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon every day.
But when was the last time you used Audionet or Broadcast.com?
This unknown and now defunct 20th Century tech company is how Mark Cuban made his billions. In fact, he sold the company to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in what’s known as one of the worst internet acquisitions of all time and a crown jewel in the dotcom bubble burst.
What is Cuban’s track record and how does it explain how he became the successful shark and maverick he is today?
How Mark Cuban Got Started
Cuban loves discussing his start, as any fan of Shark Tank knows. Born in Pittsburgh to a working-class family, he started his first business venture at the age of 12. He graduated from business school and worked a few jobs before finding his true calling in computer sales in Dallas.
He started his own company, MicroSolutions, and helped people install early software like Lotus Notes and CompuServe into enterprise computers.
By 1990, the company had $30 million in annual revenue and he sold it to CompuServe for $6 million, which he then flipped into a company called Audionet.
Audionet became Broadcast.com and focused on live-streaming audio and video events. It’s obvious on today’s high-speed broadband and 5G wireless networks. But in 1999’s dial-up, the idea had a lot of roadblocks.
One could argue Cuban’s Broadcast.com is the basis for Pied Piper, the fictional video compression company at the heart of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Cuban pioneered the idea long before Netflix (NFLX), Hulu, and other streaming services existed.
In fact, 2020 is a great time to revisit this epic fail, because we may be heading for another streaming bubble. Between Netflix (NFLX), Hulu, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Prime Video, Peacock, YouTube Premium, Spotify (SPOT), SiriusXM (SIRI), and more, we’re at full capacity for paid streaming services.
How Did Mark Cuban Make His Money?
If you ask Cuban, he can give you a hundred different answers to how he makes his money. That initial sale of Broadcast.com to Yahoo! through an all-stock deal is the bulk of it though. That’s when he started to diversify his Yahoo! holdings into other ventures.
He bought 2929 Entertainment, a vertically integrated entertainment company, Landmark Theatres, AXS TV, and the Dallas Mavericks. He also has an affinity for investing in startups and had a decade-long career as a venture capitalist before joining the cast of Shark Tank.
Some of his companies include IceRocket, Swash, Sharesleuth, Motionloft, and more. It’s a veritable “who’s that?!?” of tech companies. In fact, Cuban’s best investment track record probably came from his Shark Tank investments.
When compared to the rest of the sharks, Mark Cuban places right in the middle. Both Kevin O’Leary and Lori Grenier outperformed his shark investment portfolio.
So, is he all bark and no bite?
Is Mark Cuban a Billionaire?
While this article may come off as a little harsh to his investments, Cuban is still undeniably a billionaire. His net worth in 2020 is estimated at $4.2 billion, which includes income and shares from all his combined companies.
However, he became a billionaire through his sale of Broadcast.com to Yahoo!, which is widely considered as one of the worst acquisitions of the dotcom era. Like most tech plays Cuban makes, it became obsolete before you ever heard of it.
Yahoo’s stock subsequently crashed, and it led to the company’s infamy in the tech community for mishandling its assets. Remember when Yahoo resurrected NBC’s Community and ruined it on its own streaming service?
Of course, the reality Cuban dreamed of in the 1990s is alive in 2020.
How Is Mark Cuban So Rich?
Although he picked seemingly every wrong horse in the race, Cuban wasn’t wrong about streaming video being vital to the internet. By 2027, that market is estimated to be valued at $184.27 billion, and it’s easy to see why.
Everyone from Comcast and AT&T (T) to Disney (DIS) and Netflix has its own streaming service. You can stream live sports on the league’s website, watch WWE or UFC without cable, even catch videos on Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR).
Cuban was simply ahead of his time with the Yahoo deal, and other players jumped into the market. But he’s not out of entertainment yet.
What Companies Does Mark Cuban Own?
Mark Cuban owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Theaters, as well as stakes in Magnolia Pictures, AXS TV, and 2929 Entertainment.
His company is responsible for movies like Good Night and Good Luck, Serena, and Please Stand By, along with a variety of low-budget films for HDNet.
Cuban sold his majority ownership in AXS TV to Anthem Sports & Entertainment and remains a minority equity partner. He also owns bonds in the UFC and a variety of Shark Tank investments and other startups.
Who Is The Richest On Shark Tank?
Although he’s far from the most successful shark on the show when it comes to investments on the show, Mark Cuban is the richest out of the regular sharks. Daymond John is worth $300 million, Barbara Corcoran is worth $80 million. Lori Greiner is worth $100 million, and Kevin O’Leary is worth $400 million.
Of course, he’s not the richest person who ever appeared on Shark Tank. That honor goes to guest shark Sir Richard Branson, whose $4.6 billion net worth barely beats Cuban.
And Greiner’s Shark Tank investments are the most successful. Scrub Daddy alone has over $50 million in sales since appearing on the show, while Squatty Potty earned $33 million. These are two of the most successful products on it.
Although arguably the most successful shark is Jamie Siminoff, who started on the show with Doorbot. It was rejected by the show and later bought by Amazon (AMZN) in February 2018 for $1.8 billion as the company Ring. He came back to the show later that year as a shark himself.
The author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Financhill has a disclosure policy. This post may contain affiliate links or links from our sponsors.