Mark Cuban is one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. The 61-year-old owns the Dallas Mavericks, stars on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and is worth an estimated $4.1 billion.
His career, though, has had its fair share of lows. In his early 20s, Cuban was too broke to open a bank account and shared a $600-a-month three-bedroom apartment with five other guys. Cuban slept on either the floor or couch.
He even had $82,000 stolen from the first company he started, MicroSolutions.
“I was 24 at the time and we had $84,000 in the bank,” he recalls on an episode of the podcast “Pardon My Take.” He was young and confident: “We had it all set up. I thought I used everything I learned at Indiana Business School and I’m like, OK for our accounts payable, we print out the checks to the vendor and we just give it to Renee and Renee is going to put it into little see-through envelopes, lick ’em, mail ’em.”
Renee, his receptionist at the time, didn’t do that: According to Cuban, she forged the checks using correction fluid and a typewriter: “[She] whites it out, puts her name on it, takes it to the bank, the bank cashes it. So, within one day, we went from having $84,000 in the bank to having $2,000 in the bank.”
Cuban went to the bank to try and get his money back, but it was gone.
“It was f—– up,” he says, “but the best thing that ever happened to us because it made us get our s— together. And then that company turned into a $30 million company that turned into another company that turned into streaming that turned into the Mavs.”
Sure enough, Cuban sold MicroSolutions to CompuServe for $6 million in 1990, making him a millionaire at 32. A few years later, he co-founded a company called Audionet, which became Broadcast.com. In 1999, it was acquired by Yahoo for $5.7 billion, and Cuban became a billionaire at 40. In January 2000, Cuban paid $285 million for a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks.
“There’s always gonna be setbacks,” Cuban said during an Oxford Union Q&A session in 2017. “There’s always gonna be things you don’t anticipate.
“Even when you have every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed, something is going to go wrong. And when it does, you just have to fight through it and grind through it. Remember what it is that makes you special and what it is that makes you confident to do what you do, and do more of it.”
Today, $82,000 is pocket change for the billionaire. At the time, it was his whole company — nearly. “It’s nice she left you two grand though,” the host of “Pardon My Take” noted. “That was polite.”
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