Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Mark Cuban was raised by his Jewish, middle-class family, which had always placed an emphasis on hard work and enterprise. His grandfather, who had changed the family name to Chabenisky shortly after arriving at Ellis Island, sold merchandise from a truck, while his father, Norton Cuban, worked for a half-century at an auto upholstery shop. The family work ethic was also passed down to Mark; at 12, his request for a pair of expensive sneakers was rebuffed by his father, so he went door-to-door selling sets of garbage bags to pay for them himself. He soon amassed a small fortune by selling stamps, coins and baseball cards and parlayed the funds into tuition costs for psychology classes at the University of Pittsburgh, which he began attending while still a junior in high school. Cuban skipped his senior year altogether, and enrolled fulltime at the university. He later transferred to Indiana University on the basis of its low enrollment fees and high rating as a business school; there, he purchased a bar near its Bloomington campus, where he continued to increase his earnings by selling shares of the business. Cuban also gave disco dance lessons to make money, and hosted dance parties at the Bloomington National Guard armory.After graduating in 1981, Cuban returned briefly to Pittsburgh to take a job at Mellon Bank, where he studied the company's new computer system and networking methods. He then relocated to Dallas the following year, where he took a job as a salesperson for Your Business Software, one of the first PC retailing companies in the city. He was reportedly fired from the company for pitching his own business to customers, but quickly rebounded by creating MicroSolutions, a systems integration company and software reseller. With the buying strength of his former Your Business Software clients and his own expertise, Cuban made MicroSolutions a leading presence in the networking industry. Soon, major companies like H. Ross Perot's Perot Systems became clients, and by 1990, Cuban was able to sell the company to CompuServe for $6 million. In 1994, Cuban made his acting debut as "Macho Mark" in a low-budget comedy called "Talking About Sex."Five years later, Cuban branched into the still-untapped world of the Internet to launch Audionet, a web radio company that broadcast customized satellite broadcasts of sports games and other events to a hand-held device. Cuban and his partner, attorney Todd Wagner, launched the company largely based on the interest in hearing basketball games from their mutual alma mater, Indiana University. Though initially derided in the industry, Audionet became a huge success, and, after changing its name to, went public, where it set a one-day record for IPOs by selling for $200 a share. Stock options helped to make Cuban and Wagner billionaires, and they compounded their windfall by selling the company to Yahoo in 1998 for $5.7 billion. In the years that followed these massive successes, Cuban shrewdly diversified his wealth so as to avoid incurring huge losses in the event of a market crash. Many of his subsequent ventures also saw profits, and increased his own public profile through his hands-on approach.In 2000, he purchased a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks basketball team from H. Ross Perot. The organization had been in a slump for two decades thanks to poor management decisions and middling players, but Cuban's arrival signaled the beginning of a turnaround for the Mavericks. He took a visibly active role in supporting the team, sitting with fans during games, and vocally expressing his opinion on various plays. Occasionally, his reactions on and off the court earned him media coverage and fines from the NBA totally $1,665,00, which he frequently matched in contributions to charitable organizations. On one memorable occasion, Cuban's comment about the league's manager of officials, Ed T. Rush, being "unable to manage a Dairy Queen," resulted in an invitation from the fast food company to manage one of its franchise stores for a day. Cuban took up the challenge and worked for a day at a Dairy Queen in Texas, where fans lined up to get ice cream from the billionaire. Despite the excessive cost of his opinions, Cuban helped to gain exposure for the struggling team, which soon revamped its playoff record from 21 wins and 32 losses to 49 wins and 57 losses.In 2001, Cuban and Wagner began venturing into the entertainment field. They founded the media company, 2929 Entertainment, which had interests in film and television production, distribution through Magnolia Pictures, exhibition and syndication, with such evergreen titles as "Star Search" (syndicated, 1983-88) and "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) among its holdings. It was soon followed by HDNet, an exclusively high-definition cable channel that broadcast a wide variety of programming. Both companies began releasing original content in the years that followed, including a new version of "Star Search" (CBS, 2003-04) and such films as "Good Night, and Good Luck" (2006) and "The Road" (2009). In 2003, 2929 purchased Landmark Theatres, a chain of 58 arthouse theaters; the following year, Cuban made his debut as a reality show star with "The Benefactor," a competition show in which contestants strove to win $1 million from him. Despite a great deal of pre-broadcast publicity, the show failed to survive a single season.Cuban returned frequently to the sporting world for new investments. He was frequently cited as a potential buyer for such established clubs as the Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Cubs, and eventually bought a minority stake in the United Football League, a new American league. His own Mavericks continued to expand their dominance in the NBA by finally reaching the finals in 2006, only to lose to the Miami Heat. In 2007, he began exploring the booming mixed martial arts scene through investments with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and HDNet Fight Nights, a series of exclusive broadcasts of matches on his cable channel. That same year, he returned to the limelight again as a competitor on the fifth season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005-) and voiced himself in a 2008 episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989-). In 2008, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil suit against Cuban that alleged insider trading in shares of in 2004. The suit was eventually dismissed in 2009 by the U.S. District Court, but in 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and reinstated the case. That same year, H. Ross Perot Jr., the former owner of the Mavericks, filed suit against Cuban, alleging that the franchise was in danger of insolvency, which drew its own suit from Cuban, alleging that Perot was attempting to gain money to pay for the losses on a major real estate development. Despite these setbacks, Cuban continued to find success in a variety of media. In 2010, he joined the panel of wealthy entrepreneurs on Mark Burnett's reality competition series "Shark Tank," and the following year, his Mavericks finally rebounded to defeat the Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals.