Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mark Cuban: Genius? Idiot? Both?

I have always admired Mark Cuban for his success as an entrepreneur. Here's a self-made man, who started with a bachelors degree in business administration, from Indiana University's School of Business. Along the way, he worked like every other industrious college student did, by tending bar and other odd jobs. So, when he moved to Dallas after his graduation, it only made sense that his first job there was bartending.

He soon became a salesman for one of the first software companies in Dallas, but was terminated after a short stint. This gave him the opportunity to venture out on his own. And so it goes, with a true innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, he founded his own company. Later, he sold it to CompuServe for $6 million, but he didn't stop there.

Being an alumni, Cuban was an avid fan of IU basketball. But in Dallas, his team did not get the TV coverage he would have liked. It was at this point that he, and a friend and former schoolmate named Todd Wagner, began to work on a software program, so they could watch their team play. The finished product was later bought by Yahoo, for almost $6 billion in Yahoo stock.

Today, Mark Cuban is the majority owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks franchise and Chairman of HDNet, an HD-TV cable company. One sale was $ 6 million, the other was for $6 billion, and his net worth right now is somewhere around $2 billion. Yet, he is still one of the best people to work for, primarily for his treatment of workers and the overall success of his endeavors. There isn't a player in the NBA who wouldn't want to play for him and the HD-TV market has made a fortune.

How can anyone deny this man is a genius?

Well, as is true with most geniuses, Mr. Cuban has made some poor judgments that many would lead many to believe, he is an idiot. His involvement with the films Loose Change and Redacted, certainly lead me to believe this guy has some issues with the world, and has a fundamental lack of knowledge of reality. But is has made him a hero of sorts, for conspiracy theorists we know affectionately call "truthers". This only goes to show that even the most intelligent of people, who dominate their industry or profession, can lose contact with reality when they overinflate their own sense of self-worth.

Recently-surfaced accusations, claiming that he could have engaged in insider trading, have now come to light. As you might guess, the truthers are claiming this is retribution for his role in the films and Cuban is strongly maintaining his innocence, albeit through his attorney. And while he is innocent until proven guilty, I do not find this too hard to believe based on what little we know about the case. If this turns out to be the case, how he conducts himself during this ordeal will tell the story of the outcome. If the evidence is strong and he becomes defiant like Martha Stewart, they will hit him hard.

But all of this aside, there is one instance of what I would call poor judgment, which he may already be regretting. In his blog, he states that he voted for Obama. In the very same post, he has indicates that he has noticed something peculiar about the President-Elect's economic team:

Its great to see President Elect Obama aggressively taking on the economy prior to his taking office. Unfortunately, the economic advisory team that he has put together looks more like a semester’s worth of great guest speakers for an MBA class than an economic advisory team that can truly help him.

He goes on to list some of those names:

“Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Laura Tyson, who served as Clinton’s top economic adviser; former Fed Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson; Time Warner Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons; former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman William Donaldson and Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy.

Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Roel Campos, an ex-SEC commissioner, and Warren Buffett are also on the advisory board.”

To Democrats, this is a "who's who" dreamlist in "tax and spend" economic logic. It amazes me that Mark Cuban could even look at these names and even think they would be good guest speakers, at a university. But the coup de grace in his sudden revelation, is this:

Notice anything missing ?

Not a single entrepreneur. Yes Warren Buffett started a business, but he will be the first to tell you that he “doesn’t do start ups”. Which means there isn’t a single person advising PE Obama that we know of that knows that its like to start and run a business in this or any economic climate. That’s a huge problem.

Yes, Mark. It is a huge problem, but what did you expect? The last period of the campaign was an indictment of Obama's socialist belief system. This was covered extensively by his opponent and his supporters and you didn't listen.

For those that are not able to understand why this is a problem, Cuban goes on to explain why:

If we are going to solve our current economic problems, our President needs to get first hand information on the impact his proposed policies will have on real Joe the Plumbers. People who are 1 person companies living job to job, hoping they get paid on time. We need to know what the impact of his policies will be on the individually owned Chrysler Dealership in Iowa. The bodego in Manhattan. The mobile phone software startup out of Carnegie Mellon. The event planner in Dallas. The barbershop in LA. The restaurant in Boston.

Entrepreneurs that start and run small businesses will be the propellant in this economy. PE Obama needs to have the counsel of those who will take the real risk inherent in creating companies and jobs. Those who put their money and lives on the line with their business.

Without it, the rules of unintended consequences of any economic policy could hit you in the mouth in ways you never expected. Things like forcing companies from being taxpayers to the underground cash economy, or forcing new hires to be independent contractors to avoid having to pay their insurance or higher matching social security amounts. Your current group has no one with 100pct of their networth on the line. I promise you that the possibility of losing it all will provide a completely different perspective than any of the “knowledge” the esteemed, learned members of his current advisory team offer.

These are some tough lessons to absorb. Mr. Cuban was one such budding entrepreneur once upon a time, and now he has fallen for the grandiose illusion/delusion that is Barack Obama. By his own words, one can conclude that he may one of the first of many who regret their decision at the polls.

So while Mark has had some problems with critical thinking on the foreign policy front, he certainly shows that he gets it on the domestic, specifically on making money. It's one thing to teach something, develop policy, accept large grants to do research, but risk nothing in the process. It quite another to live from job to job, account to account, day to day, risking everything all over again.

Obama would do well to listen to this guy, on the economic side. But somehow in my deep skepticism, I rather doubt that he will.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the most difficult part of the journey for many of these insiders, was that of becoming insiders. Once they get to that point, as we have seen so far in the Obama appointments, the rest is gravy. But we ought to ask ourselves, as with lunk heads like Jamie Gorelick, when was the last time she had to scrimp in order to send a kid to college? When was the last time she had to balance a family budget? So from their lofty positions of doing little, but making fabulous sums of money (earned from the backs of normal people), how much credibility to any of these people deserve? It is easy then to understand how, although most of these people have benefitted rather substantially from capitalism, they are wealthy-snob-socialists who think the answer to financial success is income redistribution. Well, that should be “income redistribution of other people’s income.”

I don’t know much about Mark Cuban. If he’s a self-made man, then I respect his accomplishments. Much as I do those of Bill Gates. The worst that either of these men can do is fail in their enterprises. The worst that Obama can do is get a bunch of innocent Americans killed. The way the cabinet is shaping up, that is exactly what might happen. Should anyone have forgotten terrorist attacks against western society in Beirut, Madrid, El Salvador, TWA hijacking, Frankfort, Achille Largo, Egyptian Air hijacking, Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Lockerbie, WTC New York, Oklahoma City, Riyadh, Dhahran, Atlanta, Beirut, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, USS Cole, and WTC New York City?

Obob said...

mustang, the econ woes have made us forget our real foreign threats. But that is the ADHD culture we live in.
One thing about cuban and his investigation, do you think anyone who was competing for the cubs ownership against him may have tipped off or helped a wee bit?

Greg said...

I haven't crunched the numbers or researched the stats to support this contention, but it seems quite obvious that a lot of people - like Cuban - who stand to be harmed by 0bama went right ahead and voted for him. I've met some. None of them can articulate the reasons why. It's like 0bama and the media brainwashed the electorate. I won't mind saying, "I told you so."

Mustang and Obob are right to point out the other area where 0bama supporters are likely to see the errors of their ways: the war on terror. It's going to be hard to beat the Bush administration's record on anti-terror.

At least there's an upside to this dipshit's presidency: he'll prove liberals' policies are a disaster better left to theoretical classroom discussions. But will the Obamatons see it when the disaster happens?

LASunsett said...

//But we ought to ask ourselves, as with lunk heads like Jamie Gorelick, when was the last time she had to scrimp in order to send a kid to college? When was the last time she had to balance a family budget?//

It is often said, those that do, do. And those that can't do, teach. That's the education community. Then, there are those that do, and then there are those that moralize about how we should do it. That's the political community.

LASunsett said...

//But that is the ADHD culture we live in.//

Interesting description. It's true, too.

LASunsett said...

//I haven't crunched the numbers or researched the stats to support this contention, but it seems quite obvious that a lot of people - like Cuban - who stand to be harmed by 0bama went right ahead and voted for him. I've met some. None of them can articulate the reasons why.//

It's that "being part of history" tag. They were part of it, alright. Soon we can say, they are responsible for the history.