Mark Cuban: Talking His Book or Seeking “Headline Porn”?

Brash & brazen billionaire, Mark Cuban, let out what amounted to a Rebel Yell across the internet Sunday when he stated the NFL will implode within 10 years because of unchecked greed.

Cuban’s “money quote” to describe the NFL’s insistence on squeezing every last dollar from it’s customer base, whether from ticket prices, concessions, licensing/merchandise, TV rights, and commercial breaks, was: “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered”.

To some out here in cyberspace, it was a clarion call of concern from an NBA owner to the NFL in general. To others, it was just Mark Cuban seeking some headline porn. On the one hand, it is difficult to endorse the NFL’s blood-sucking search for additional revenue. On the other, it is apparent Cuban knows less about the future than he does about the average door knob.

As owner of a premiere NBA franchise that competes with the NFL from the season’s opening tip-off until the first week of February, Cuban no doubt feels the heat from the NFL’s popularity, whether live, via TV, and/or Fantasy Football. The roots of the NFL are deep and cultural. And culture changes slowly at first, and never on schedule, if at all (like “Hope & Change” and “death & taxes”, for example 🙂 ).

But here’s a news flash: Any business could be extinct in 10 years. Even the Dallas Mavericks.

Cuban overshot with his “money quote” about the potential NFL Death Spiral. He knows it, and he even took to Facebook today to clarify his comments.   It was on the popular social media site where he asked whether Facebook could maintain its influence 10 years from now. And if that wasn’t enough, he opined about Twitter and Google with a similar supposition.

Facebook? Twitter? Google?

What is the connection between Facebook’s future value and the NFL in 2024?

There is a possible explanation.

Few on the internet remember that Cuban bought 150,000 shares of Facebook in May, 2012, bidding between $31.97 and $33, in an action he described as “a trade”.  Actually he said: “(it was) kind of like buying a Mickey Mantle, a Hank Aaron and a Barry Bonds rookie card knowing there is a card show in town next week.”

On Wall Street, such brazenness would be called “talking (one’s) book”. In his own words, Cuban “took a beating” and eventually dumped Facebook less than one month later. Of course the social media giant eventually worked out it’s exchange kinks, fluttered along the spectrum, and 22 months after going public, it trades at about $63 today; which is about 21 months after Cuban cashed out for a 40% loss.

How would Wall Street traders describe the Mav owner’s performance as a Facebook-promoting stock guru?  Well, we can refer to Michael Lewis’s 1989 book “Liar’s Poker” for a bit of a clue. Cuban certainly wouldn’t have made the first string at Salomon Brothers alongside Lewis and “Dash Riprock”.  More precisely, he would have been exiled to “Equities-in-Dallas”.

Funny how that turned out, eh?

With respect to the NFL, however, lets be honest:  The Mavs owner wants to remain “the real Mark Cuban”, but with Paul Allen-like kinda money.  And he isn’t going to get there in 10 years with just the Dallas Mavericks, the pieces of his empire he built on The Shark Tank, and his trading acumen.

All businesses either adapt to new conditions or face extinction. It’s standard Darwinism.

NFL fans might be tapped out and revenues may be flat at the moment. TV revenues might not reach targets in the near future. But the game remains dear to fans even in this current age of multiple choices and fragmentation. The NFL will be around, and more importantly, strong, in 10 years.

I like Mark Cuban. I respect the fact that he’s built businesses and personal wealth, and acts as a positive influence to people around the country. But lets be real here. Cuban has a tendency to reach for the type of “headline porn” he decries.

Question: During Super Bowl XLVIII, who tweeted: “I HAD SAFETY ON THE FIRST PLAY IN VEGAS !!!!!!!!!! 1mm to 1.. $20mm BABY. #Unbelievable”?

Answer: Mark Cuban, Headline Pornographer

Mark Cuban:  What I Really Think About Facebook
Cuban Buys 150,000 Facebook Shares
Did Cuban Win $20mm on Super Bowl Sunday?
“Equities in Dallas” from Liar’s Poker

 

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