7 March 2012

The Voyeur. Mark Cuban. Part 1

Posted by Jody under: Business .

Since he was a kid, Mark Cuban wanted only to be an entrepreneur. He started his first business at 12, selling garbage bags door to door in his native Pittsburgh. “I did pretty well,” he says. “I was certainly the only kid out there selling garbage bags.”

From those early years, Cuban learned that being the first shop on the block has its advantages. “It doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s very difficult to compete if you are not first and best at what you do,” he says. “Besides, being able to set the rules is always more fun than following the rules.”

As founder and president of Broadcast.com, the leading provider of streaming content on the Web, Cuban is setting the rules today, and it’s paying off. When Yahoo! announced it would acquire the Dallas-based company for more than $6 billion worth of Yahoo! stock in early April, Cuban, who has a 28 percent stake, emerged from the deal with a paper worth of about $1.7 billion. As of April 1, Broadcast.com’s stock was trading at $118.19 a share – not bad for a 4-year-old company.

The idea for Broadcast.com was born at Indiana University, where Cuban and Todd Wagner, the co-founder and CEO, were students. The two basketball fans thought the Internet would be a great way to listen to games all over the country, since radio generally only aired local games. So the duo founded AudioNet – renamed Broadcast.com last May to reflect the emergence of online video. “The same lightbulb went off for us that did for Ted Turner when he saw all the satellites going up around the world,” Cuban says. “The Internet just seemed a perfect fit.”

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Today, users can access more than 425 radio and TV stations and cable networks, and watch the sporting events of more than 420 college and pro teams. The company’s February Webcast of a Victoria’s Secret fashion show drew 1.5 million visitors – the largest yet for an online event. In the first quarter of this year, revenues totaled $10.3 million, up from $4.5 million in the same period last year, though net loss increased 56 percent to $3.8 million.

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