THE SUIT MAGAZINE EDITOR’S PICK
SHARK WITH A HEART - MARK CUBAN
BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR AND PHILANTHROPIST BALANCES INVESTING WITH GIVING BY ANDREA LEHNER
Self-made billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban might have built an empire through shrewd business acumen, but the Shark Tank co-star’s brash bite often hides his softer side.
uban, a Pittsburgh native from a middle class home, made his first millions selling bootstrapped tech start-ups MicroSolutions and Broadcast.com in the 1990s. Now known for being an outspoken, keen venture capitalist and probing investor on Shark Tank, Cuban also is an active philanthropist. Cuban donates to a diverse range of charitable causes. Through the Mark Cuban Foundation, he provides support and funding for cancer research, disaster relief, education and patent law reform. Cuban’s support for wounded veterans prompted him in 2013 to found the Fallen Patriot Fund. The fund has awarded more than $5million in grants, and solicited donations from third parties, to assist the families of veterans wounded or killed during the Iraq War. Even before Cuban created his own foundation, giving back accompanied the entrepreneur’s growing success. One of his earliest philanthropic interests was Junior Achievement — a charity that partners with local businesses to teach financial readiness, entrepreneurship, and other skills to school children — which he credits with preparing him during high school to reach his adult goals. But writing checks isn’t Cuban’s style. Despite his considerable giving, Cuban told Reuters recently
THE SUIT MAGAZINE - JAN 2017
that he finds charities inefficient, and often burdened with too much overhead. Cuban prefers a more hands-on approach, he said. “Instead, I pay people’s bills and help solve problems,” Cuban said. “I think I’m able to more readily and directly help people who need it and not pay for the commercials and administration of all the duplication that exists across charities.” Cuban, known for being able to cut to the chase with would-be entrepreneurs, said he learned long ago to be wary of anyone trying to sell him a sure thing. In his experience, easy usually equates to scam. Very competitive by nature, Cuban stays at the top of his game by continuing to learn about rapidly developing industries — such as machine and deep learning — to inspire fresh business ideas. He strongly believes that success means holding knowledge and understanding how and when to use it. “The risk is to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the less risk there is,” Cuban offered advice to new entrepreneurs in a University of Common Knowledge interview. “If someone else knows more than you do about your business or industry, what are you doing? How can you think you’re prepared?” Having made his first millions in the tech sector, it’s not surprising that Cuban still follows technology trends. He recently, publicly urged
President-Elect Donald J. Trump to commit $100 billion to robotics research and development, as opposed to traditional infrastructure spending, something the incoming administration has said will be a priority. Robotics spending, Cuban claimed, is both forward-looking and necessary if America wants to maintain its technological and competitive advantage globally. “We have to win the robotics race. We are not even close right now,” Cuban wrote in a Dec 18 “Blog Maverick” blog post. America lags because policy-makers have underinvested in domestic robotics firms. China, in contrast, is currently spending $3 billion annually on robotics research compared to U.S. spending of $100 million, only half of which goes to domestic manufacturers. The cause closest to Cuban’s heart, however, is his family. A father of three, Cuban has said he works hard to raise his kids “grounded,” and ready to earn their way. And the television “shark” is not trying to instill a cutthroat mentality into his kids. Instead, Cuban prefers to involve his kids in his philanthropic ventures. “That’s not how I run my businesses, so no, that’s not what I pass along,” Cuban told Reuters. “Nice goes much further than mean.” www.markcubancompanies.com
Published on Jan 9, 2017
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