Billionaire Mark Cuban Biography
Born in Pittsburgh in 1958, entrepreneur Mark Cuban has ventured into many diverse businesses. He made his fortune through the sale of startups MicroSolutions and Broadcast.com in the 1990s, and later became known as the zealous owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Cuban has also invested in film production, and has appeared on such TV series as Dancing with the Stars and Shark Tank.
Entrepreneur and professional sports team owner Mark Cuban was born on July 31, 1958, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cuban had a typically middle-class childhood. His father, Norton, spent nearly half a century working at a car upholstery shop. His grandfather, Morris Chobanisky, emigrated from Russia and fed his family by selling merchandise out of the back of a truck.
Like his grandfather, Cuban displayed a tenacity for making a deal and carving out a better life for himself. At the age of 12, he sold sets of garbage bags to save up for a pair of shoes he liked. In high school, he earned extra dollars any way he could, mainly by becoming a stamp and coin salesman.
Cuban’s go-getter attitude extended to the classroom as well. He started taking psychology classes at the University of Pittsburgh during his junior year of high school. He then skipped his senior year and enrolled full time at the college.
After his freshman year at Pitt, Cuban transferred to Indiana University. His understanding of supply and demand extended outside of the classroom. Needing to make money to continue his education (he was paying his own tuition) Cuban started giving dance lessons. That endeavor soon led him to hosting lavish disco parties at the Bloomington National Guard Armory.
After graduating in 1981, Cuban moved back to Pittsburgh and took a job with Mellon Bank, just as the company was ready to switch over to computers. Cuban immersed himself in the study of machines and networking. However, he had no real desire to hang out in his home city for too long, and in 1982 he left Pittsburgh for Dallas.
Cuban landed a job selling software, and eventually formed his own consulting business, MicroSolutions. Cuban was soon an expert in the field of computers and computer networking. He also had a knack for building a smart, profitable company. In 1990, Cuban sold the firm to CompuServe for $6 million.
His fortune making, however, was far from done. Sensing that a new world awaited with the development of the Internet, Cuban and a business partner, Indiana alum Todd Wagner, started AudioNet in 1995. Its formation was rooted in a desire to be able to listen to Indiana Hoosier basketball games online. The company, despite its early critics, proved to be a smash success. Renamed Broadcast.com, the firm went public in 1998 and soon saw its stock reach $200 a share. A year later, Wagner and Cuban sold out to Yahoo! for nearly $6 billion.
Purchasing an NBA Team
In 2000, Mark Cuban introduced himself to the NBA community when he purchased the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million from Ross Perot Jr. For Cuban, a longtime season ticket holder, the chance to be a part of the professional sports world was a dream. The Mavericks, however, were far from a dream franchise.
Plagued by poor personnel decisions and mediocre players and coaches, the club experienced more than a decade of non-playoff basketball games. Cuban used his new role as owner to immediately change that. With his trademark enthusiasm and doggedness, he revamped the culture of the team and its roster, erecting a new stadium and pampering his players.
Cuban showed himself to be the club’s biggest booster. Choosing to sit with the fans, Cuban egged on opponents and derided refs, and the Mavericks responded positively to the new owner’s zeal. The team qualified for the playoffs in 2001, set a franchise record for wins (57) the following year and made it to the 2006 NBA Finals before losing to the Miami Heat. In 2011, the Mavericks finally won the NBA title by defeating the Heat.
Cuban also brought a touch of innovation to his ownership of the team. He was the first owner to launch his own blog, a swirling mix of his own tech insights and thoughts on NBA basketball. The blog became wildly popular, receiving thousands of emails a day from his readers.
Online and off, Cuban is an unfiltered force of opinion, a bombastic personality among the rather stodgy inner circle of NBA ownership. He made waves when he referred to Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case as “great for the NBA. It’s reality television, people love train-wreck television, and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth, that’s the reality today.”
In another instance, he attacked the league’s former director of officiating, Ed Rush, saying that he “might have been a great ref, but I wouldn’t hire him to manage a Dairy Queen.” The statement eventually found the chagrined billionaire putting in a day’s shift at a Dairy Queen in Coppell, Texas.
In all, Cuban has amassed more than $2 million in NBA fines for his controversial comments over the years. Yet not a dollar of these fines has done anything to edit what comes out of his mouth. “Who lives their lives worried about what someone else thinks?” Cuban once told reporters. “Before you guys were writing about me in the sports page, people were calling me crazy in the computer industry. People were calling me crazy in the systems integration industry. People said I was lucky. … The more people think I’m crazy and out of my mind, typically, the better I do.”
In 2004, Cuban caught the attention of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), which charged him with insider trading in regards to an Internet search engine website. Cuban claimed he was innocent, and in July 2009 the case was dismissed. However, the case was reinstated the following year. It was also during this time that Cuban joined the series Shark Tank as a venture capitalist, allowing for the trial to be put on hold. In March 2013, Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater let the case go to trial once again. The trial began on October 1, 2013. Later that month, he was officially cleared of all charges of insider trading by a Texas jury.
Cuban again courted controversy in May 2014. According to USA Today, he made some comments that were widely perceived as racist. On the subject of bigotry, he stated, “If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street.” Cuban then explained that he tried “to always catch my prejudices.” Cuban later expressed remorse for his comments, posting, “I didn’t consider the Trayvon Martin family, and I apologize to them for that.” He also tweeted that “I have my failings … but a racist I am not.”
While Cuban has every reason to go into retirement mode, he’s done anything but that. He made a big foray into the high-definition TV market with HDNet (later AXS TV); launched his own reality TV series; and on the advice of his young daughter, was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2007.
Cuban also brought his business acumen to the world of film and television production by purchasing the Landmark Theatres chain and Magnolia Pictures in 2003. He’s listed as an executive producer for such acclaimed movies as Goodnight and Good Luck (2005) and Akeelah and the Bee (2006), and further augmented his own celebrity with appearances in the popular TV series Entourage and The League. In 2015, Cuban also showed up in the big-screen version of Entourage, and starred as U.S. President Marcus Robbins in the disaster flick Sharknado 3.
An active voice in the athletic community, Cuban spoke out about the record 211-game suspension (later shortened to 162 games) handed to baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez in 2013 for using performance-enhancing drugs. The Mavericks owner said he thought Rodriguez’s ban was “horrible” and that the prolonged suspension—first-time offenders receive a 50-game suspension and second-time offenders are suspended for 100 games—was “personal” during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Cuban went on to comment on Major League Baseball as a whole, claiming that he had no chance of buying a baseball team with then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig running the sport like a “mafia.”
Cuban remained on top of technology trends by launching a social media app called Cyber Dust in 2014. True to form, he also thrust himself into the national conversation when inspired, boasting he could beat both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as campaigning for the U.S. presidency heated up in 2015.
Cuban married his longtime girlfriend Tiffany Stewart in 2002. They have three children together, daughters Alexis (born 2003) and Alyssa (2006), and son Jake (2010). The family resides in the Dallas area.