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ANDY SERWER: Some influencers don’t say much, quietly making deals behind the scenes. Mark Cuban is the total opposite. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks is known for criticizing referees and presidents alike. His business chops go back to the 1990s, when Cuban co-founded an online streaming company that he sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion. He has since invested in dozens of startups and continues to do so as a host of the show “Shark Tank.” Cuban is here to talk about how to pick the right investments, ignoring everybody else’s noise, and maybe generating some of your own.
Hello, everyone, I’m Andy Serwer. Welcome to “Influencers,” and welcome to our guest Mark Cuban. Mark, great to see you.
MARK CUBAN: Thanks for having me.
ANDY SERWER: Mark, of course, entrepreneur, star of “Shark Tank,” owner of the Dallas Mavericks. And, in fact, he’s hosting us here today. We’re at Dallas Mavericks headquarters here across the street.
MARK CUBAN: Yep. Right across from the arena.
ANDY SERWER: From the arena, right. So, a whole bunch of stuff to talk to you about.
MARK CUBAN: Fire away.
ANDY SERWER: But let’s talk about this president thing that’s out there. There are people who suggest that you should run for president, maybe you have aspirations. I don’t know, but it’s a discussion point. So what would it take to have you run for president?
MARK CUBAN: I’m excited about next year for the Mavs. It’s going to be a great season.
ANDY SERWER: Come on, man.
MARK CUBAN: I don’t even want to get into it. I mean, I did one quick interview, and then all of a sudden it blew up. I don’t want to feed the beast. Like I said, there is a certain set of circumstances that would push me to do it, but we’re not there yet. So if and when it happens, you’ll be the first to know, Andy.
ANDY SERWER: OK. That’s very cool. What about the Democratic field? Is there anyone there that you think can challenge President Trump?
MARK CUBAN: Well, I mean, there’s now and then there’s November of 2020. I mean, if the election were held today, I think Trump would win. I don’t think that there’s somebody that has the momentum or just the value of the incumbency that Trump has. But, at the same time, between now and then, I think Joe Biden has got a good chance. And we’ll see what happens with any of the other of the field of 97 to see if anybody emerges or if anybody new comes in.
I think Biden is capable of beating him, but we’re not there yet.
ANDY SERWER: You’ve been critical of President Trump before. Have you kind of made any peace with him? I mean, you know, it’s been a couple of years.
MARK CUBAN: I get along with him. I mean, you know, we didn’t have to make peace. You know, like any president, I agree with some things and disagree with other things. It’s not personal. There’s things I would do differently, and but it was the same with Obama, it was the same with Bush, it was the same with Clinton. That’s just the nature of the beast.
ANDY SERWER: So have you talked to him and given him any advice? Or what advice would you give him?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, I’m not a fan of the tariffs. I understand what he’s trying to do in terms of battling China. I would approach it differently, because I think tariffs are attacks on the American people. But, at the same time, I think we have a variety of other leverage points. I’ll give you the perfect example. Chinese companies on American– Chinese companies listed on American exchanges have a market cap of more than $1.4 trillion. That’s a lot of leverage right there. They’re raising money via IPOs– something we can’t do in China. I’d shut down all Chinese IPOs.
That’s the first step. And given his propensity for using Twitter and just as a kind of throwing warning shots, you know, I would throw out there that we might put a halt on the trading of Chinese-listed stocks in the United States. Now, there are American shareholders, but the reality is that long-term, the value of the company is the value of the company. But a trading halt would certainly create a lot of disruption for those Chinese companies. And I don’t think it’s untoward at all to reconsider treating Chinese companies like they do ours. You know, we can’t list on their exchanges. I don’t know what the SEC is thinking, because, given that every Chinese company has a connection somewhere or another to the Chinese government, how does the SEC enforce any type of trading laws?
Could you imagine if you’re a big Chinese listed company and someone high up the government says, I need to make some extra money. Tell me how business is and what you’re going to report. What’s the SEC going to do to them? And so there’s all kinds of enforcement issues that I think come up. And I’m not suggesting that that’s what happens now, but we have no idea of knowing that it doesn’t.
ANDY SERWER: Have you ever run that by President Trump?
MARK CUBAN: No, I have not.
ANDY SERWER: Or anyone else in Washington?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, I’ve talked to a lot of people in Washington about a lot of things, but I’m sure– it’s not something I think has reached his level.
ANDY SERWER: I want to get into the SEC and other things as well. But let’s talk a little bit about growing up. You grew up in Pittsburgh. Your father ran an auto upholstery.
MARK CUBAN: He didn’t run it, he worked there.
ANDY SERWER: He worked there, OK. So what was that like, Mark, and how did that inspire you?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, my dad busted his ass. I mean, he worked six days a week. Left at 7, 7:30 in the morning, got back at 6 or 7 o'clock, lost his eye in an accident doing upholstery. He had a staple break when he was putting some covering on a car seat. You know, it was a middle class upbringing. My mom did odd jobs. You know, they just wanted something better.
I mean, my grandparents came over from Russia. And, you know, my dad was the first generation. My uncles were the first generation Americans like my mom too. And, you know, like every child of immigrants, they wanted better for their kids.
ANDY SERWER: You know, it’s funny, I mean, a lot of people grew up that way, but not many people end up like you. So what do you think that’s the result of?
MARK CUBAN: I think, you know, everybody’s got something that they’re good at, and the hard part is finding it. And I found out early that I was a good salesperson, that I really like business, you know, like I like sports. I mean, I read everything I possibly could, played sports as much as I could, just wasn’t as good as I wanted to be. And business was the same way. I mean, as long as I can remember, I was buying and selling baseball cars, garbage bags, whatever I could find– stamps to collectors. But I was also reading everything I possibly could about business.
And, you know, I was that unusual kid that I’d rather read about Ted Turner than go to the movies. And so I think that created a foundation. And my parents did– my dad used to always say, I don’t understand what you’re doing, but I’m glad you’re doing it. And so I had my ups and downs along the way, of course, but I just think that I just put in the time and was fortunate enough to really get excited about business. And that paid off benefits over the long haul.
ANDY SERWER: I mean, you almost have to have that drive. Like, in other words, you can’t fake it. You can’t pretend that you want to read about Ted Turner and, OK, I’ll skip one movie. It has to be in your soul.
MARK CUBAN: Yeah, I mean, you can fake it til you make it in a lot of areas, particularly if you’re working for somebody else, but at the end of the day, if you’re going to be great at something, you’ve got to make the effort to be great at something– whether it’s sports, whether it’s physics, math, science, business, whatever it may be. You know, it’s not just a natural skill. You’ve got to learn. And particularly if you’re in the technology industry, because it changes every day.
You know, when I got started in– you know, after I got– I was a bartender when I first came to Dallas, got into the PC industry, got fired, started my own company. But I learned early on that there was always something new. And most people didn’t put in the time to learn it. It’s like now with artificial intelligence– lots of people talk about artificial intelligence, lots of people talk about machine learning and neural networks, not a lot of people were putting in the time to take classes or do the tutorials or to learn how to apply it to business. And that’s what it takes.
And, you know, that’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. So I’ve been fortunate in that.
ANDY SERWER: Wait a minute, are you doing that with AI right now?
MARK CUBAN: Yeah, absolutely.
ANDY SERWER: What are you doing?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, I’ve been on Amazon doing the machine learning tutorials. Right now I’m going through– I’m taking Python online classes.
ANDY SERWER: Really?
ANDY SERWER: But where would that take you? Like with your businesses here or the Mavericks, or you don’t even know.
MARK CUBAN: Everywhere. It takes me everywhere. I mean, there’s nothing that AI won’t impact. As big as the– so, having been around a while, I saw the impact of PCs. Then I saw the impact of local area networks. Then I saw the impact of wide area networks. Then I saw the impact of the internet. Then I saw the impact of mobile. Then I saw the impact of wireless. Now, I’m seeing the impact of artificial intelligence, and it dwarfs any of those things. And if I don’t understand how to apply it to my businesses– I mean, I remember selling PCs and software and walking in saying, you don’t need to use that pen and paper on a notepad or a ledger pad.
Now we’re going to give you a spreadsheet. And, by the way, here’s the spread sheet. It costs $495, and I had to pay to go get trained on how to sell it, which is crazy now when you think about it. But then we said, OK, now you can play, what if. Then we said you can connect these PCs. Unless I understood the technology, how was I going to explain it? How was I going to understand it? Unless I understand it now, how am I going to invest in it? Then I got to go trust somebody who says, oh, yeah, I know AI. And maybe they do, maybe they don’t. And it’s really easy just to– just to, OK, so you figure it out. It’s just not my style.
ANDY SERWER: So you’re building a base of knowledge. And then you think that at some point, it’s going to pay dividends.
MARK CUBAN: It already has. I mean, if you truly believe AI is going to change everything, How are you going to understand what people are doing to change everything unless you at least have a foundational understanding of it? Now, I’m not going to build a million layer neural network and try to change the world. I’m not going to show you– I’m not going to write a research paper saying, here’s why the lottery ticket approach works and you can build smaller neural networks with less data and be more resource efficient.
But I can read that stuff and understand that when somebody says, OK, we’re building this project and we need this size data set or this size data set or we need this amount of resources, I can ask questions and understand the answers.
ANDY SERWER: So you grew up in Pittsburgh, went to the University of Indiana for a while, then you said you came here. How have you adopted this city? Why did this become your home– Dallas?
MARK CUBAN: Well, I mean, when I went to IU, I had a bunch of friends that graduated and came down here. And they’re like, you got to get your ass down here. The weather’s great, the women are beautiful, the economy’s good. I said, wait, back up. And then I came down, lived with six guys in a three-bedroom apartment until I found my way and had a blast and loved it ever since.
ANDY SERWER: So how would you describe yourself, Mark? I mean, I said entrepreneur, is that how you would describe yourself? What do you do for a living?
MARK CUBAN: I describe myself as a grinder. You know, like we talked about, learning– that’s a grind. But I love it. You know, and I just– I think I’ve just learned what I’m good at and learned to focus on those things and try to utilize those skills to now not just be an entrepreneur, but probably more often now, invest in and help other entrepreneurs.
ANDY SERWER: OK, so take us through your business interests right now. You have the basketball team. You do stuff for “Shark Tank.” You have stuff here.
MARK CUBAN: You can go to MarkCuban.com. I list them all right there. And so, really, I mean, I’ve got “Shark Tank,” and I’ve invested in 100-plus companies there. We sold a bunch, so I think I’ve got 70 that are active now. And, you know, it follows a normal distribution– 10 are struggling, 50 are doing great, and 10 are doing incredible. But I think now I’ve really evolved some of my focus to trying to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs, people who have less opportunity. I just invested with a woman, Arlan Hamilton, who we, together, created a little million dollar fund where she’s going out and finding 10 businesses run by people of color or disadvantaged LGBTQ type communities and just opening doors.
Because I think my experience applies to anybody– any entrepreneur no matter what you’re trying to sell. And I also think that it’s a great business opportunity, simply because the markets that they wanted to sell to are underserved. There just aren’t as many entrepreneurs, so there’s more opportunity. And so I think it makes great business sense as well.
ANDY SERWER: But let’s go through some of these other things– starting with “Shark Tank.” I mean, what is “Shark Tank” like? Is it really a kick the way it looks like it is?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, it’s great. We start shooting here probably in a couple of weeks– June 12 or 13 I think it is. And the way it works literally is we show up on set in Sony Studios. And I get there about 8:30 and put on– they put on a little bit of makeup. I throw on my suit– like Kevin, Mr. Wonderful–
ANDY SERWER: Mr. Wonderful.
MARK CUBAN: And Lori, they have to get there two hours earlier, because they need tons of makeup. Kevin’s got a lot more land–
ANDY SERWER: Listening to that.
MARK CUBAN: Kevin’s got a lot more landmass to cover, and Lori is Lori. But, in any event, we start shooting at about nine. And they just bring in deal after deal after deal. We know nothing about them. They’ll say, you know, this is, you know, Joe and Sally, and this is the name of their business. And they’ll walk in and give their pitch. Now, on television, it might take 10 to 14 minutes. In real life, if it’s a stupid deal, it might take 20 minutes before we’re all out. And then if it’s an intense deal, it can go 90 minutes, two hours.
And then they have to edit it down. But it’s our money, it’s all real. We know nothing about them. If we decide to do a deal, then we have the opportunity to do due diligence after the fact, because sometimes they’ll embellish– is the polite way to put it. You know, my widget cost $1 to make and we sold a million of them, when, in reality, the widget cost $10 and they’ve sold six.
ANDY SERWER: That happens sometimes?
MARK CUBAN: It does happen more often than you think. The producers are supposed to ferret that stuff out, but.
ANDY SERWER: Yeah.
MARK CUBAN: Doesn’t happen as much as we’d like. So, yeah, we’ll do due diligence. And about 60% of my deals close. The other little thing is of the deals that present to us– and we’ll see in any given season 250 to 300 that are presented– probably 25% of people who pitch us that come in, are taped, and pitch to us don’t even make it on air for a variety of reasons.
ANDY SERWER: And let me ask you about your entertainment business– the movies, 2929 Magnolia– what’s that all about?
MARK CUBAN: Well, back in 2000, I guess it was, after I sold Yahoo, right after I bought the Mavs, I started the world’s first all high definition TV network. When everybody was saying high definition television is not going to happen, I created a network called HDNet and HDNet movies. And there was very little content for it. I mean, literally, this is when high def televisions cost $15,000 and everybody said, who the hell is going to pay $15,000 for TV?
And I went around telling everybody, no, you just wait. Those televisions are going to drop like a rock in terms of price and everybody’s going to want one that goes on their wall instead of this big ugly hunks of analog TV. So I had that, but we didn’t have content. And so we wanted to go out there and create content. And we also bought Landmark Theaters, which we have since sold. But we wanted that vertical environment where we could show it on television, put it online, offer DVDs, put it video on demand and also offer in theaters.
And so we created 2929 Productions first where we produce movies.
ANDY SERWER: What does that name mean, by the way?
MARK CUBAN: 2929 was because the address for Audionet, the streaming company we created, was 2929 Elm Street. So that’s where that came from. And then we had movie production 2929, we had Landmark Theaters. We also bought Reiser Entertainment, which we’ve since sold that owned “Hogan’s Heroes” and some others so that we could put it on HDNet. HDNet films and then Landmark– and so the idea was to have them vertically integrated.
So we were the first company to produce a movie, put it online, download, basically offer a day and date release of it called “Bubble.” And we’ve been doing Magnolia and 2929 productions ever since. The others– yeah, Magnolia and 2929, the others we’ve sold.
ANDY SERWER: What do all these businesses tell you about the economy right now? What do you think the outlook is?
MARK CUBAN: Well, that’s a good question. So some of my smaller “Shark Tank” companies that sell products are getting crushed by the tariffs. I mean, I’ve got one that may go out of business simply because tariffs at 10% were one thing, tariffs at 25%, they just can’t compete. There’s other companies that have bigger and better supply chains where they were more creative and were within 5% of their prices. But now with the tariffs, it’s almost impossible. And the uncertainty has made it very, very difficult.
But beyond that, I mean, business is going well in urban markets. And it’s a little bit tougher in smaller markets. So, I mean, it pretty much mirrors what you see in the general economy.
ANDY SERWER: Right. Are you surprised at how long the stock market rally has lasted?
MARK CUBAN: No. I mean, if you go back to 2008, it’s pretty much on a straight line. You know, when President Trump got elected, it was a little blip. Some of the things he’s done has taken it back to the straight line. So it’s pretty much, you know, where you’d expect it to be. There hasn’t been– I mean, like any market, there’s going to be ups and downs, but there hasn’t been anything dramatic to change it.
ANDY SERWER: Are you concerned about a recession or the market faltering?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, I’m concerned about black swan events– the anomalies that can hurt us. I think in general, you know, the markets tend to just go up, you know, on their own, by their own weight. And so there’s no reason for that to change now. Maybe if the trade war extends or something happens with Iran or, you know, again, there’s something aberrational that puts us in a difficult situation, then it could change. But, otherwise, I mean, there’s no reason to think that other than individual stocks doing what they do, the market won’t continue to go up on the same line that it has since 2008.
ANDY SERWER: You mentioned the SEC earlier, and, obviously, you’ve had some issues with them. What do you think about the SEC just generally speaking?
MARK CUBAN: I think they’re kind of useless. You know, I think– had the SEC really wanted to make the markets safer, they would publish bright line guidelines. So, for instance, there’s no specific law on insider trading. There are only legal precedents that have been set as a result of various cases that the SEC has brought. Well, if you run a public company, that’s OK because you probably have a general counsel who’s training you on doing it on what you shouldn’t do. If you’re just an investor, you have no idea.
You’re not a lawyer, and you shouldn’t be responsible for, you know, talking to a lawyer before you decide to talk to somebody at a company or buy or sell a stock. I’ll give you the perfect example of some of the stupidity. There is a case– and I forget the name of it– where the guy was going to work. It was a railroad company in Illinois, I think. And every day he’d go to work. One day in the parking lot that everybody shared, there was a bunch limos. And then another day there was a bunch of limos. Then another day, the guy guessed– literally guessed that the company was being sold.
And he bought stock. The SEC sued him. Now, the SEC lost, but that’s just some of the ridiculous stuff that they do. I’ll give you another one. We had a company, Share Sleuth, that did research on some companies, and they found a company that was putting out press release after press release about how great their business was with this new energy solution, I think it was. And we sent somebody out there to just look at the factory or just call it. Didn’t even send him we just called the factory, nobody answered.
Then we called somebody local, I think it was the power company, and said, do you have power turned on for this location? No. Called up somebody local, go look at this building– nobody was there. Company– we shorted stock, company died, the SEC did nothing– didn’t care.
ANDY SERWER: Yeah, so what’s the difference, right? Let me ask you– what do you think about Elon Musk’s war with the SEC? What do you think about Elon Musk generally?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, I don’t know him very well. I mean, I’ve talked to him a couple of times. I like him because he’s competitive. He’s obviously got you know a genius spirit and mind for innovation, which I love. But he’s also very competitive. And when you’ve got a bunch of bureaucrats trying to come at you in a world where there aren’t bright line guidelines, that’s tough. I mean, it’s like when I was battling the SEC, it took everything I had not to just say, F you, every minute of every day, because it was ridiculous.
I mean, you know, some of the due diligence that we were able to do, the things that they said about me, you know, the ridiculous approach they took. And so when you have that coming at you, it’s hard. Now, I wasn’t running a public company at the time– he is. And so, you know, he’s under a different microscope. But, like I told him, it was like you got to just try to bite your tongue no matter how hard it is, because they don’t care. They don’t care. They’re only in it for skin on the wall, because they’re– like, in my matter, there were people who left the SEC before the conclusion when I kicked their ass in the trial I had.
And they would put on their resume– worked on the Mark Cuban matter. And that’s what I told Elon. This is a resume builder for them. They don’t give a shit– they don’t care about you. They care about their resumes. And that’s tough to fight. And I also told him, I said, look, here’s how stupid the SEC is. Name the last five people that you know that you can remember that were sanctioned by the SEC for violating insider trading laws. Name me and tell me.
ANDY SERWER: I can’t name anyone.
MARK CUBAN: That’s– and so when the SEC does these enforcements thinking that they’re going to impact people trading, it’s ridiculous. Because in this day and age, you can’t communicate that to people. You know, it doesn’t– people don’t think, wow, this guy got busted, this guy got busted, this guy got busted or woman got busted– so I better not do this stuff. Or I better learn because he did this or she did this, and so that’s an indication that that’s the wrong thing to do. No, it doesn’t work.
There’s no educational value, if you will. And there’s no disincentive based off of the findings from the SEC or the rulings that they have or the court rulings they have. It goes into the ether and nobody remembers it unless you’re in the securities industry. And so it’s kind of useless– their approach is kind of useless. I’ll give you another example. You can go on YouTube and look this up.
So I try not to talk to CEOs of public companies whose stock I’m considering buying, because I don’t trust the SEC. So there was an instance where I was thinking, well, maybe I want to talk to the CEO. And this was a couple of years ago. So I took my camera and I started videotaping myself calling the SEC. And I identified myself. I wasn’t trying to be underhanded. And I said, look, I’m thinking about talking to this company. I don’t know if this would violate any SEC rules. Is there anybody I can talk to that can give me guidance?
And so they sent me to another person and recorded that. Sent me to another person, recorded that. Finally, they sent me to a web page, and that web page was a picture of a letter from 1980– no lie– saying I needed to fax eight copies of a request to this number. That’s our SEC. They’re not helping at all. And you talk about– and I could go on for days, and I won’t talk here, but one other piece.
If you look at all the ETFs of foreign countries, right, if those foreign countries’ stock markets that those ETFs sold in America represent, they don’t have all kinds of enforcement requirements.
ANDY SERWER: So it’s a whole– yeah.
MARK CUBAN: And so it’s not like we’re letting people invest in these markets where there’s not enforcement, because it really doesn’t net out to be anything of any value.
ANDY SERWER: Speaking of Silicon Valley a little bit, what do you think about Facebook and Google and those big companies? Should they be broken up? Are they too big or do they need any enforcement?
MARK CUBAN: So there’s two pieces there. One, just looking at the state of the union, if you will, I mentioned earlier that AI is, you know, the biggest thing that’s happened a long time. Well, if you talk to Vladimir Putin, he says whoever dominates AI is going to win– you know, is going to be a dominant nation. You talk to China, and they talk about their 2025 or 2035, whatever they call it, plan that was built around AI. In the United States, we don’t have those plans yet.
But what we do have is 5 to 10 really, really big tech companies who dominate the research and development in the AI space. If you were to break up any of those companies– Facebook, Google as examples, Amazon– well, we’re going to lose our greatest competitive advantage that we have versus the Chinese and the Russians in a space that we need to dominate. So that’s part one. Now, maybe that gets resolved over time if we invest as a country more, but that is a big issue.
Part two in terms of breaking them up, you don’t have to use Facebook. You know, you don’t have to use Amazon. It’s not like there aren’t alternatives. You don’t have to buy from Netflix. You know, so I don’t see them as utilities like the phone where the only way you could use a phone was to go through AT&T back in the 80s. And even then, all they did was give access. Now I do think there are privacy issues, but those aren’t breakup issues.
I think the law– like if you look to– say to Facebook, don’t ever sell your data to anybody else. Think about what’s happened– now Facebook has control of all that data. You’re talking about the law of unintended consequences, you’ve made Facebook stronger, not weaker. Now, if anything, there should be a built-in delay, and they should have to publish that data anonymized and make it available to everybody. That’s how you solve the problem. And then you also have the other issues of the content that they present being harmful or misguided and brutal in some cases.
And I think they’re high– I think for them and for Google and others, that’s where you change the copyright laws. Back in the day, there wasn’t really the consideration that there would be forward-facing videos and other content that would be protected by the– what is it for the copyrights– safe harbors.
ANDY SERWER: Right.
MARK CUBAN: So now there are safe harbors, and then the copyright owner has to send a takedown notice.
ANDY SERWER: Right, right.
MARK CUBAN: We should go back. A television station, for example, you guys– you guys can’t just pull something online and just present it here and broadcast it. You’ve got to get permission. You’ve got to sign a licensing agreement. That’s the way it used to be for digital copyrights, and we should go back to that, so that Facebook just can’t say, well, it’s none of our business. And if somebody has a problem with it, issue a takedown notice. And we’ll try to use AI to proactively recognize that there’s a shooting environment, you know, something horrible is going on.
If you flipped it so that the DMCA safe harbors only protected you for inward-facing as opposed to outward facing videos, then, just like Yahoo Finance, just like every TV network, you have to go out and get a license, then it all changes. And you’re not going to see that horrific content. You’re not going to see it, because those people aren’t going to sign a license.
ANDY SERWER: Right. Interesting. Let me shift gears a little bit, Mark, and ask you about economic inequality and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her agenda. What do you think of that and why do you think people find it so appealing?
MARK CUBAN: I love AOC. I love AOC, right? I don’t always agree with her, but I think she’s learned the lesson of social media where you get long and you get loud and you get people’s attention. And then you deal with substance after that.
ANDY SERWER: But what do you think when she says that the idea that we have billionaires in our society is immoral?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, it makes for great headline porn. I mean, she started a business, Bernie Sanders has a book business, you know, Elizabeth Warren buys and sells houses– or did. If they would have had the level of success that I and others have had, I don’t think they’d be complaining as much. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not an income inequality problem. There is. And it’s something we have to deal with. I tell other business people that, you know, the greatest cost to business is social disruption.
If people are rebelling and burning things and aren’t, you know, satisfied with their lives and they’re incented to do horrific things, that’s the greatest cost of business. And that costs us more. Now the question becomes how do we deal with it.
ANDY SERWER: How do we address it?
MARK CUBAN: So I’m not a fan of trickle-down economics where– I don’t think that works. I don’t think it has worked. You know, the richer people get, the more they make available to others– hasn’t worked. I’m also not a fan of trickle-down taxation. The concept that just tax, you know, those who have a whole lot more, then all of a sudden it’ll find its way to those who need it– doesn’t work, hasn’t worked, won’t work. It’s not that taking more money– I’m OK with paying more taxes, I don’t have a problem with that.
Where the issue is, how do you make it work?
ANDY SERWER: Yeah.
MARK CUBAN: How do you get it– now, the reality is anybody who’s working and getting paid by the hour is going to have a challenge when something goes wrong. Do you lose a job? Does the dishwasher break? Does somebody get sick? Is it more than your deductible– or if you haven’t covered your deductible yet, can you cover your deductible? If you’re getting paid by the hour, it’s hard to save money. I don’t care if it’s $10 an hour, $15, or $50 an hour. It’s a difficult position.
The only way that people really improve their wealth is by buying a house, condo, whatever it may be, owning shares of stock. And so I think that’s where you start to change the rules. I think when you have a company like Uber Change, but who is it that just– was it Pinterest? Where there’s multiple share– like Snap has got multiple classes of stock. I think you tax them differently. If every share of stock in a company in a public market is not treated the same, then it should be as– it shouldn’t be– I’m trying to think of the right way without stepping on too many toes.
If you have an advantage class of stock, it should be treated as normal income when you sell that stock. If everybody’s got the same class of stock, then you treat it as capital gains if you’ve held it for more than a year. I think you also advantage people if you have a company where all employees are offered stock. You give them other tax advantages. Because then, the AOC’s point, you’re lifting from the bottom up. Trickle-down is not going to work. But if you create opportunities where people all have to share in stock, then the disparity is going to decline, because everybody’s going to go up when things happen.
Like when we saw Broadcast.com, we created 300 millionaires, because 300 out of 330 people invested their stock. So when you work from the bottom-up like that, people have a chance to increase the value of their wealth. If somebody is below a certain level of income and they’re able to buy a home and you give them more tax advantage, you don’t take away their deductions because they’re in California or New York when they have a lower income. Now, they did some things to offset. But, still, you want people to be able to accumulate assets that grow in value, that appreciate.
That’s how you get people so that their life becomes better.
ANDY SERWER: OK. Let me ask you about America. I mean, people are bitching about America. Is there something wrong with this country, or is this just the usual stuff?
MARK CUBAN: I think it’s the usual stuff. I mean, now, everybody’s got a platform. So it’s a lot easier to bitch. You know, I call it headline porn. You’re only going to get attention– the more dramatic you are, the better chance you have of getting attention. And that’s just the nature of the beast. I mean, there used to be gatekeepers to media, now there’s not. And if you’re loud enough and either crass enough or maybe it’s a great idea and people get behind it enough, then you’re going to be heard. It doesn’t make us bad, it’s just the game has changed.
ANDY SERWER: I mean, there are problems– like our health care system, how would you fix that? And the mass shootings– there’s shootings.
MARK CUBAN: I think, first, you know, there is a book I read in high school that I ended up buying a copy of, it’s called “Why Men Rebel.” And basically what he said was when your expectations for your life going forward are increasing but the reality is diverging from that– and so what you thought would happen with your life and where you are gets further and further apart, then people do things that they otherwise wouldn’t do– whether it’s a mass shooting, whether it’s– who knows whatever it may be.
And so, I mean, I think taking care of income inequality and lifting people up from the bottom and creating more opportunities and giving them tax advantages– maybe it’s an earned income credit. Whatever it may be, then I think you’ll see fewer of those events. You know, other people say it’s a mental health issue. I don’t think we’ve had all those same type of issues for hundreds of years in this country. I think it’s more about when people really get disappointed and they have nothing to lose, they’ll do things that people with nothing to lose will do.
ANDY SERWER: Is guns a problem as well?
MARK CUBAN: Yeah, I would do guns completely differently. You were listening to some of my last interviews, weren’t you? I would do guns completely differently. I would go to change the Second Amendment in ways that people probably wouldn’t expect. You know, it’s not easy to change an amendment, but what I would do is change the Second Amendment so it said, one, every American citizen has the right to own a gun. Period, end of story, written in the amendment. Two– the federal government will never be allowed to ever confiscate that gun from an individual. Period, end of story. Three– states have the right to manage the purchase and ownership and management of guns owned and held within their borders.
So that if you live in a state like Texas, if the law in Texas is open carry, so be it. If you live in Pennsylvania where they are more stringent and they don’t want you to be able to have a gun other than in your own premise or under lock and key or have to do a background check, then that’s up to them to decide. And so, you know, we’re trying to take a Second Amendment that has been analyzed up and down and backwards and forwards, and it’s created its own set of problems. You know, let’s update it.
ANDY SERWER: Right. We’ve got to switch over to basketball and talk about that. So, I want to ask you a bunch of questions. So, first of all, state of the Mavs right now.
MARK CUBAN: I think we’re in good shape. I mean, we have Luka Doncic. We’re bringing back Kristaps Porzingis. We have cap room. So hopefully we’ll be much better than we have been the last three years.
ANDY SERWER: Right. You had some issues here with the culture of the team with Terdema Ussery. And I know you apologized for that, you addressed that. How did that culture happen, and do you feel like you’ve addressed it?
MARK CUBAN: If I knew, it wouldn’t have happened. And, yeah, we brought it Cynth Marshall, and I think she’s done a phenomenal job. She’s been here over a year, and I think it’s a whole new culture, a whole new Mavs. And, you know, like I alluded to earlier, we’ve learned that diversity creates opportunity. And now we’re able to sell into markets we never were able to sell in before. So I think it’s made it a better place to work, a better organization, and a better foundation for the future.
ANDY SERWER: What about the NBA overall, Mark? What’s the state of the NBA?
MARK CUBAN: I think it’s great. I mean, I think–
ANDY SERWER: You like Adam Silver and the job he’s doing?
MARK CUBAN: I love Adam. I love the job he’s doing. I think we appeal to a variety of demographics. I think our audience is growing here in the United States and globally. There was just a survey saying we’re the number one sport in China. So, you know, we are truly a global sport. And so I think our future is very bright.
ANDY SERWER: Golden State Warriors the most annoying team ever in the history the NBA?
MARK CUBAN: I’m not going to go there.
ANDY SERWER: I’m trying to lead you on into that one. What about the Lakers and what’s going on there? Magic was just sounding off.
MARK CUBAN: You know, I’ve said it many, many times– I hope they suck, and I hope they suck forever.
ANDY SERWER: Now, that one you wanted to talk about.
MARK CUBAN: Yeah, but I’ve said that before. I said it about every team. I want them all to be awful– just one team I want to be good.
ANDY SERWER: And what about your, you know, history with refs? Have you mellowed? I mean, there’s no conspiracy against Mark Cuban, or is there a conspiracy?
MARK CUBAN: I mean, there were moments where– look, refs are human too, and they have biases like everybody else. But, you know, my challenges with officiating has always been about management more than the officials. And so I’ve paid my fines, and some things have changed for the better, some things still need changing. And so I’ll keep on working on it. If it means taking a fine, I’ll take a fine.
ANDY SERWER: Generally speaking, Mark, as we kind of wind things up here, you have lived your life as an iconoclast. And, in a way, that’s a template for other people. But, in a way, it isn’t. So, in other words, how much– you’ve got an ordinary person– ordinary man or woman– how much of an iconoclast could you or should you be like Mark Cuban?
MARK CUBAN: I don’t care. You should just be yourself. I mean, I take pride in the fact that I didn’t give a shit what anybody thought or said, I was just going to be myself. And, you know, I’m my dad’s son, I’m my mom’s son, I’m my brother’s brother. You know, I’m Alexis, Alyssa, and Jake’s father, Tiffany’s husband. You know, I just try to do the best like everybody else. I mean, I’ve been blessed. You know, like I say all the time, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. And I just try not to take it for granted. I try to enjoy every minute.
And I think now as I’ve gotten a little bit older, I try to give a little bit more back than I have before and try to help more people. And, you know, in terms of if anybody else finds himself in my position, just enjoy the moment. Enjoy every minute of it.
ANDY SERWER: I mean, I guess my question is, are you a role model for people in society?
MARK CUBAN: I don’t know. I mean, I never thought of it. I mean, it’s not something I try to be. I just try to be myself. You know, I just try to help where I can, do what I can, be a good dad. And, you know, I’m not trying to be something for somebody else, just myself.
ANDY SERWER: And, finally, do you have any notions of where you want to be professionally or personally 10 years from now?
MARK CUBAN: You know, I think–
ANDY SERWER: I mean, do you have plans like that?
MARK CUBAN: Not specific plans. I mean, I try to put myself in a position now where I can have an impact. You know, you talked about running– you know, there’s a variety of ways to have an impact. Fortunately, people open their doors for me. And so whether it’s working on health care, whether it’s working on crazy ideas like changing the Second Amendment, whether it’s supporting– you know, talking to Senator Schumer, he’s got a program that creates more doctors. Which, if you’re going to reduce the cost of health care, you’re going to need more doctors, because supply and demand.
If we ever want to get to universal health care, United States has got 2.3 doctors per 1,000. Scandinavian countries have 50% more. But those are types of things where I can start having an impact. I can start, you know, spending some money on things that lead to change, helping entrepreneurs, whatever it may be. So I don’t have a specific plan. I don’t have a specific bucket list. But I hope that all these things I’m learning can lead to some level of change. So we’ll see.
ANDY SERWER: Mark Cuban, thank you very much for having us here today.
MARK CUBAN: My pleasure. Thank you.
ANDY SERWER: You’ve been watching “Influencers.” I’m Andy Serwer. We’ll see you next time.
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