When Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks, he refused an office or big desk—here’s why

Most newly appointed bosses get the big corner office when they take over companies.

But when Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million in January 2000, he didn’t get his own floor-to-ceiling windows or a mahogany desk. Instead, he sat with nine other salesmen in an open plan office.

In a recent interview with GQ, Cuban explained he “didn’t give a s— about an office” because he was more focused on working alongside the sales team and earning their respect.

“I wanted everybody that worked with me to see that if I asked them to do it, I’ll do it,” Cuban told GQ. “If you’re running a company and if you can align your interest with those of the people you work with, things are gonna work for you.”

Cuban said he decided to buy the team after its home opener in 1999. At that point, he was just a season ticket holder, but he couldn’t believe the game wasn’t sold out. He bought the team because he thought he could make it better and sell more tickets, he said.

When he bought the team that January, Cuban said he put his desk in the center of the bullpen. In those days, he’d pull out phone books and old client lists and start cold calling.

Wanting to lead by example, he came up with compelling pitches to get old fans to come back to games. He’d say: “Do you realize now that it’s less expensive to come to a Mavericks game than to take your family to McDonald’s?” or “The first game’s free on me.”

Cuban’s method appears to have worked, as the Dallas Mavericks’ team value has steadily increased over the years. In 2014, the team was worth $765 million. Now, the 2011 NBA Champions are valued at $3.3 billion — $440,000 million more than the average NBA team — and is the eighth most valuable team in the NBA, according to Forbes.

This isn’t the first time Cuban has emphasized the importance of team cohesiveness. On a recent episode of the “Re:Thinking with Adam Grant” podcast, Cuban said he has fired business partners and traded basketball players because of their personalities — especially when the team has multiple self-centered or combative members.

“Culture and chemistry are critical to success,” Cuban said. “A team can have one knucklehead, you can’t have two. One knucklehead adapts, two hang out together.”

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Mark Cuban still believes in crypto despite FTX collapse

Although the implosion of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges has left many investors shaken, billionaire Mark Cuban still believes in crypto.

Cuban has remained invested in crypto because he believes in smart contracts, one of the key underlying technologies that allow crypto transactions to be made, he explained on Twitter on Nov. 13.

Essentially, a smart contract is a computer program that is embedded into a blockchain network. They operate according to “if/then” commands; if X, then execute Y.

For a simple example of how a smart contract works, think of a vending machine. Typically, you make your selection, insert the required amount of money and receive the item. The “smart contract” within the machine is coded to dispense the selected item after the payment is made.

Cuban believes smart contracts will have a significant impact in creating valuable applications that have utility for everyone.

In Cuban’s view, a token’s value is derived from which applications it can be used for and how useful those applications are for users, he says on Twitter.

But what’s still needed is an application that is useful to people both within and outside of the crypto world, one that’s helpful enough that people would be willing to learn how to use cryptocurrency in order to use the application.

There are still downsides to crypto

Despite Cuban’s bullish outlook on crypto, he has a sharp critique of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

“With FTX now — that’s somebody running a company that’s just dumb as f— greedy,” Cuban said while speaking at a Sports Business Journal conference on Nov. 11.

FTX’s collapse is expected to have a ripple effect throughout the crypto industry. Multicoin Capital, one of the top crypto venture firms that has assets tied to FTX, told investors it expects many trading firms will be wiped out and shut down in coming weeks amid the fallout.

However, Cuban doesn’t see the recent events shaking up the crypto market as “crypto blowups,” but rather “banking blowups,” he recently tweeted. That includes lending funds to the wrong entity.

Cuban is a longtime cryptocurrency investor. Over the years, he’s invested in Ethereum and other various digital coins, NFTs and many blockchain companies.

In fact, “80% of the investments that I make that are not on ‘Shark Tank’ are in or around cryptocurrencies,” he said during an episode of “The Problem With Jon Stewart” podcast on Jan. 12.

However, some finance experts advise against investing too much in crypto. “Cryptocurrencies are a confidence game par excellence,” James Royal, principal reporter at Bankrate, tells CNBC Make It.

“With the exception of so-called stablecoins, crypto prices are supported entirely by belief in their future, not by any fundamental underpinning, such as assets or cash flow,” Royal says.

It’s important to note that cryptocurrency is a highly volatile asset that’s subject to erratic fluctuations in value. Since there’s no guarantee you’ll earn a profit on your investment, financial experts typically advise that you don’t invest more than you’re willing to potentially lose.

Don’t miss: FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried lost billions and the company filed for bankruptcy—it could signal the ‘demise’ of crypto, expert says

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”

Mark Cuban used a 14-second pitch to make money at his first sales job

Some kids make extra cash running lemonade stands. A 12-year-old Mark Cuban sold trash bags door-to-door.

The billionaire serial entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner recently told GQ magazine that a family friend gave him the opportunity, marking his first-ever sales job. The friend sold Cuban boxes of trash bags for $3, so Cuban could turn around and sell them around the neighborhood at $6, to save money for sneakers.

Cuban said he developed a 14-second pitch for every customer. He’d knock on doors, introduce himself and ask clients if they used garage bags. Then, he’d give out his phone number and offer to personally bring over more boxes whenever they called.

“It went like this: ‘Hi, my name is Mark. Do you use garbage bags? I’ve got a great deal for you, and every time you need garbage bags, all you ever have to do is call me and I’ll put ’em in the back of my wagon and I’ll bring ’em right down to your house,'” he recalled.

“That was my first business: The world’s first, probably only, garage bag door-to-door subscription company,” added the panelist on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

The advantage of the brief pitch was explaining the value of his business as quickly as possible — maximizing his and his clients’ time.

Cuban carried that lesson with him as he got older, selling stamps and coins throughout his teenage years. Eventually, his focus shifted from accruing money to finding opportunities that would help him “control my own time,” he said.

He still appears to value time highly. In 2020, Cuban told the “Raising the Bar” podcast that he receives about 1,000 emailed pitches per day — and he judges them by only their first few sentences.

“I’ll read the first paragraph or two, and if it’s something that catches my attention and is interesting, and I think is forward-thinking, then I will just start peppering them with questions,” he said.

In 2017, Cuban spoke at South By Southwest about the impact a single sentence can have. He recalled receiving a cold email in 2012 from Adam Lyons, the then-25-year-old founder of insurance comparison start-up The Zebra.

The email was an investment pitch, and its short subject line, “Wanna disrupt the insurance industry?” got Cuban’s attention.

Cuban said he responded within 25 minutes, and the two emailed back and forth for weeks. Cuban went on to invest in The Zebra, which has since raised a total of $256.5 million over nine funding rounds, a company spokesperson tells CNBC Make It.

The company is now a unicorn, achieving a billion-dollar valuation last year, according to financial research database.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”

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Mark Kelly beats Trump GOP pick Blake Masters, NBC News projects

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and his wife former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, daughters Charlotte, Samantha and son in law Mark Sudman wave during his election night rally at the Rialto Theatre on November 08, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly will hold on to his U.S. Senate seat in Arizona, pushing Democrats closer to retaining control of the Senate, NBC News projected.

Kelly was leading Republican candidate Blake Masters, who was former President Donald Trump’s pick in the key swing state, by almost six percentage points with 85% of the votes in as of Friday night. With Kelly’s win, Democrats need just one of the two seats in Nevada or Georgia that haven’t been called yet.

In Nevada, Republican candidate Adam Laxalt was ahead by 1 percentage point with 88% of the votes counted as of Friday morning. Georgia’s Senate race is headed to a runoff election on Dec. 6 between GOP candidate Herschel Walker and incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, who was leading by more than a percentage point.

Kelly raised and spent vastly more than venture capitalist Masters, bringing in over $81.8 million and spending over $75.9 million through mid-October. Masters, by comparison, raised $12.3 million and spent just $9.7 million over the same time frame, according to data compiled by the Federal Election Commission.

The Arizona Democrat campaigned on a platform of bipartisanship and promoted his willingness to work across the aisle with Republicans. He was elected to the Senate in 2020 to finish the term of Republican Sen. John McCain, who died of an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Kelly recently distanced his stance on immigration from the Biden administration when he came out against the decision to end Title 42. The policy, which began during the Trump administration, prevented migrants from entering the country due to Covid.

The Arizona Democrat has also pushed hard for border security. He recently referred to the influx of migrants at the southern border as “a mess” during a debate.

“When the president decided he was going to do something dumb on this and change the rules that would create a bigger crisis, I told him he was wrong. So I pushed back on this administration multiple times,” Kelly said in October.

But Kelly was also a chief negotiator in the CHIPS and Science Act, a key component of President Joe Biden’s economic policies that was signed into law in August.

A former NASA astronaut and Navy pilot, Kelly is married to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunshot wound to the head in 2011.

Mark Kelly outraises Blake Masters ahead of midterms

Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, appears in an undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on October 5, 2022.

Handout | Via Reuters

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly outraised his opponent, Republican Blake Masters, in the third quarter, according to Federal Election Commission Records.

Kelly’s campaign went into October, weeks before the midterm elections, with almost six times the amount of cash on hand.

Kelly’s campaign raised just over $21 million from July 14 until Sept. 30. Masters, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, brought in over $4.7 million over that same time period.

Kelly’s campaign went into October with over $13 million on hand while Masters had just above $2.8 million in his war chest. One of Masters’ top individual donations was a $4,950 contribution from the National Rifle Association. Masters, a wealthy businessman, contributed over $570,000 last quarter to his own campaign.

Election Day is Nov. 8.

The race was once seen as a strong pickup opportunity for Republicans in the battle for control of the Senate, but Kelly has been ahead in many of the most recent polls. A RealClearPolitics polling average has Kelly ahead by 4.5 points. The Cook Political Report marks the race as “lean Democrat.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters (R-AZ) on stage during a rally ahead of the midterm elections, in Mesa, Arizona, October 9, 2022.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

The Senate is split 50-50, with Democrats having to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris for tie-breaking votes.

A spokesperson for Kelly’s team pointed CNBC to a recent statement by campaign manger Emma Brown touting the senator’s fundraising haul. A spokeswoman for the Masters campaign did not return a request for comment.

The lag in Masters’ fundraising versus Kelly has been a theme throughout the campaign. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows that going into the third quarter, Kelly had raised over $52 million while Masters had brought in just under $5 million.

The fundraising in the most recent quarter by both campaigns doesn’t include the amount raised by outside groups supporting each candidate. Saving Arizona, a pro-Masters super PAC that once saw $15 million from Masters’ ally and former boss, billionaire Peter Thiel, raised over $4 million from mid-July through the end of September. The super PAC, which can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money, has over $1.9 million on hand.

Although Thiel did not contribute to the super PAC last quarter, some of the more recent top donations include a $3 million contribution from shipping supply magnate Richard Uihlein and $1 million from cryptocurrency executives Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.

Thiel has signaled that, with Masters behind Kelly in both fundraising and the polls, he’ll continue to fundraise for his former employee. Masters was until earlier this year the chief operating officer at Thiel Capital.

Moody’s Mark Zandi sees relief within 6 months

Overdone recession fears: Top economist Mark Zandi predicts inflation will moderate in next six months

The U.S. will see inflation cut in half within six months, according to Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics.

His call, which comes on the cusp of another key inflation report, hinges on oil prices staying at current levels, supply chain problems continuing to ease and vehicle prices starting to roll over.

Everything else, Zandi believes, can stay the same.

“CPI, the consumer price inflation, will go from something that’s now about a low of over 8% year-over-year to something close to half that of 4%,” the firm’s chief economist told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Wednesday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its September consumer price index on Thursday. Dow Jones is looking for a 0.3% month-over-month gain, up 8.1% year-over-year.

“The real hard part is going to go from 4% back to down to the Fed’s target. And on CPI, the high end of that target is probably 2.5%,” Zandi said. “So, that last 150 basis points — 1.5 percentage points — that’s going to take a while because that goes to the inflation for services which goes back to wages and the labor market. That has to cool off, and that’s going to take some time.”

Overall, Zandi believes the Federal Reserve’s policy tightening is putting the economy on the right track. He predicts high prices should recede enough to prevent a recession.

“Job growth is starting to throttle back. And then, the next step is to get wage growth moving south, and I think that’s likely by early next year,” he noted. “That’s critical to getting broader service price inflation moderating and getting inflation back to target.”

He expects the Fed to pause hikes around the 4.5% or 4.75% level this winter.

“Then, I think they stop and they say, ‘hey, look, I’m going to stop here. I’m going to take a look around and see how things play out,'” Zandi said. “If we get into next summer and things are sticking to my script, then we’re done. We just hit the terminal rate. They’ll keep the funds rate there until 2024. But If I’m wrong… and inflation remains more stubborn, then they’ll step on the brakes again and then we’ll go into recession.”

Disclaimer

Mark Zuckerberg debuts Meta Quest Pro VR headset that will cost $1,500

Meta to unveils Quest Pro, new 'mixed reality' headset that supports AR and VR

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday that his company’s newest virtual reality headset, dubbed the Meta Quest Pro, will cost $1,500 and start shipping on Oct. 25.

Zuckerberg debuted the device at Meta’s Connect conference, geared toward VR and augmented reality developers.

The new headset costs $1,100 more than Meta’s Quest 2 headset and contains new technologies like an advanced mobile Snapdragon computer chip, developed with Qualcomm, that helps the device produce more advanced graphics.

The Quest Pro also has improved touch controllers that contain embedded sensors, allowing for better hand tracking, and new lenses for improved reading experiences.

The Meta Quest Pro, which will cost $1,500.

Meta

The new headset contains some mixed-reality features that can blend elements of the virtual world with the physical world. Zuckerberg has touted that as an important feature in the creation of the metaverse, which refers to digital worlds that people can access via VR and AR headsets.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also appeared during the online event and discussed a partnership with Meta intended to bring some of his company’s work-collaboration apps to Quest VR devices.

Some Microsoft apps that people will be able to access with a Quest device include the Team’s chat app, the Microsoft 365 suite of work software and the company’s Xbox cloud gaming service.

“You will be able to play 2D games with your Xbox controller projected on a massive screen on Quest,” Nadella said. “It’s early days, but we’re excited for what’s to come.”

Meta shares were down about 4.5% in midday trading to $127.85, underscoring a muted response from investors about the new VR headset.

WATCH: Meta to release new high-end VR headset

Meta to release new high-end VR headset

Mark Cuban credits first tech job to trick question interview strategy

Forty years ago, Mark Cuban wasn’t sitting courtside at Dallas Mavericks basketball games or fielding pitches on ABC’s “Shark Tank” — he was sharing a three-bedroom apartment with five roommates.

Then, he landed his first job in tech as a PC software salesperson at a company called Your Business Software. But in an old blog post, which Cuban recently shared on Twitter, the billionaire revealed he almost didn’t land the consequential role. He had no experience and was “trying to pull out every interview trick I knew.”

The interviewers weren’t impressed, Cuban wrote, until he answered one question: “What do you do if a customer has a question about a software package and you don’t know the answer?”

As Cuban recounted, there was a long pause. “After who knows how long, I blurted out that, ‘I would look it up in the manual and find the answer for them,'” Cuban wrote. “Ding ding ding… [the interviewer] just loved the answer.”

The question was designed to gauge a job candidate’s confidence level — to see if they’d freeze, refuse to admit they didn’t know something, or swallow their pride and seek out an answer right in front of a customer. Cuban didn’t know it was a trick question, so he answered it honestly, stumbling into the correct answer.

The foot in the tech industry’s door was all Cuban needed: Less than a decade later, in 1990, he created then sold systems integration computer company MicroSolutions for $6 million. His next business, internet radio company Broadcast.com, was acquired by Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion in stock.

Cuban bought a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million for a majority stake the following year, he tells CNBC Make It.

Ironically, Cuban says the best entrepreneurs often lie to themselves, at least a little bit. “Behind the lie are the ‘wantrepreneurs,'” he said at a Dallas Startup Week event in 2019. “The people who talk about doing it, but don’t take that step. And then you lie to yourself a little bit and you say, ‘I can do this.’ You’re scared s—less, but you know you can do this. You take one small step.”

You just can’t lie to the people around you — especially in job interviews. In 2019, a joint report from U.S. careers advice site TopInterview and job search platform Resume-Library found honesty was one of five most desirable personality traits in employees.

Cuban’s fellow “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary feels similarly. In May, O’Leary told CNBC Make It that his top piece of advice for job applicants was to tell the truth.

“Great HR managers have an innate skill to sense bull—-,” he said. “They know when you’re lying to them, because [detecting that is] what they do 24/7.”

This story has been updated to reflect that Cuban bought a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million in 2000.

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How Mark Zuckerberg can get Facebook ‘back on track’

Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership is putting Meta on track to fail, a Harvard management expert says — but it’s not a lost cause. All Zuckerberg has to do is take a long vacation.

That’s the suggestion for Zuckerberg from Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former CEO of medical technology company Medtronic. George’s most important advice for the Meta co-founder: Take some time away from your work and rest your brain. 

“You need to pull back, take a sabbatical to ground yourself in your purpose and your values,” he tells CNBC Make It. “It can help you and the company get back on track.” 

George has spent the last two decades studying leadership failures, compiling his findings in a new book called “True North: Leading Authentically in Today’s Workplace, Emerging Leader Edition.” He cites Zuckerberg as just one example of a boss who has lost sight of their deeply held beliefs, values and purpose as a leader. Instead, Zuckerberg has become a leader who prioritizes profits, doesn’t accept advice and blames others, according to George. 

George has argued that those failures of leadership have certainly not helped Meta right the ship at a time when the company has lost more than 60% of its market value since last year. Various factors have contributed to Meta’s struggles, including increased competition from rivals like TikTok and an Apple iOS privacy update that’s made it more difficult for Meta to target ads to its users, as well as Zuckerberg’s heavy investment in the burgeoning metaverse space that he admits could lose “significant” amounts of money over the next several years.

George says he still has “a lot of empathy” for Zuckerberg, acknowledging that the “brilliant” CEO has been under an enormous amount of pressure ever since he co-founded Facebook in 2004. 

Zuckerberg has constantly worked to grow his company into a tech behemoth that now boasts a $381.86 billion market cap, as of Thursday morning. He helped build the modern-day social media industry that reaches billions of people each day — and now he’s made a huge bet on the metaverse in the hope that he can repeat his past success by building a new online economy. 

Of course, Zuckerberg’s past success is exactly why he still has plenty of believers, in spite of recent struggles. In February, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he has “total faith in Mark Zuckerberg” when it comes to Meta’s bet on the metaverse.

George says Zuckerberg’s prior success likely came with its fair share of stress, which is why it’s a “good, healthy idea” for the CEO to take time off now through a sabbatical. 

He recommends Zuckerberg spend a few months away from the company entirely, which means not checking emails, managing team members from afar or doing any other work-related tasks. Zuckerberg should spend that time deeply reflecting about the purpose and future of his company, and what values he needs to ground himself in to improve as a leader, George adds. 

Why a sabbatical may be unlikely for Zuckerberg

But the odds of Zuckerberg actually following George’s advice may be unlikely. A long leave of absence could potentially further drag down Meta’s stock price in the short-term: It could create uncertainty about who would run the company in his absence, and a temporary leadership shakeup in the company could alarm analysts and investors.

Take what happened to Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, after he announced plans to move to Africa for six months in 2019. Before his plans fell through, Dorsey faced sharp criticism from some analysts who said the move would be “reckless” because “proximity matters” for leading a company.

The closest to a sabbatical that Zuckerberg may get is paternity leave: On Wednesday, he and his wife Priscilla Chan announced they’re expecting their third child. Zuckerberg took paternity leave in 2017 after his second child was born in the summer, breaking it up into two, one-month blocks: immediately after the birth and again in December.

Zuckerberg and Meta did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment. 

Realistic or not, other experts say George’s advice is spot on. DJ DiDonna, who studies sabbaticals and is the founder of research and advocacy nonprofit The Sabbatical Project, even recommends that Zuckerberg travel somewhere far from Meta’s Menlo Park, California headquarters for a sabbatical because “geographic separation” can help him fully disconnect from work. DiDonna adds that engaging in physical or creative activities during that time, whether that’s playing a sport or taking up painting, could help Zuckerberg reignite a genuine sense of passion and energy that he can then apply to his leadership at Meta. 

DiDonna points to his own research, including interviews with dozens of sabbatical-takers over the course of several years, that shows sabbaticals are a “transformational experience” that can help with personal development. In some cases, people can uncover a more authentic version of themselves and see other benefits: A restored sense of enthusiasm for work, more confidence in their voice and a better work-life balance.

“[Zuckerberg’s] literally been thinking about his company since college. He probably has no idea who he is or what his personality has become after all these years,” DiDonna tells CNBC Make It. “Sabbaticals are a way for people like him to disconnect from their routine life, to heal and restore themselves.”

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