Our guest blogger, Larry Chiang, is an instructive humorist. If you liked “How to Work a Twitter Party,” you’ll like this submission on some all-important fundraising mistakes to avoid for entrepreneurs.
by Larry Chiang
MARK CUBAN’S 10 tips for me
In this article, I use man-charm techniques to cozy up to billionaire Mark Cuban. I sooo wanna be a billionaire too. Right from the get-go, I observe his behavior, ask him questions, listen when Mark answers other people’s questions, email and call him with MORE questions – - all to determine the character compass of Mr. Mark Cuban. A character compass is a run-down of traits, tendencies, self-perceptions, third-party observations and my own entrepreneurial algorithm. I use a compass to plot a life plan. I study other compasses to mimic and model a path of personal development.
This (reprinted) Amazon blog post is based on my 8+ hour interview / interaction with Mark Cuban in SF during TechCrunch50, the post party, the post-post party, and the post-post-post party. And in Chicago IL after game #2 of the NL MLB Playoffs.
These interviews are unauthorized, unapproved and unedited (by Cuban’s media buffers). The subterfuge focus of this article is to offer up a confessional of how this millionaire (me) seeks to become a billionaire.
I chose Mark Cuban because…
-1- Cuban has a Social Silver Bullet. A social silver bullet owns something or someplace that allows you to host a hit party (and be popular).
Cuban, the self-proclaimed nerd, has a most special of social bullets, an NBA franchise. Membership to NBA Team Owners club has its benefits. Similar to fellow billionaire, Paul Allen, who owns the Seattle SuperSonics, Cuban one-upped him by turning around the NBA’s worst team, the Dallas Mavericks.
The valuation of the Mavericks has tripled, according to the Wall Street Journal, since he bought them from Ross Perot for $273mm.
In the bay area, the closest version a ‘Social Silver Bullet’ is Kenny and Luke’s house. Yeah, the one with the indoor pool.
A social silver bullet is critical to host an event that hot women wanna come to. More on deal flow later.
-2- He Blogs. Blogs give a peak into the soul…http://www.BlogMaverick.com branded Cuban as an in-touch owner that gives fans and readers full access. As the only blooger that owns an NBA team, Cuban is blogMaverick’s sole writer. In it, Cuban, posts off-the-cuff comments, ideas, riffs and commentary. Adding to the true removal of layers, Cuban literally cuts out the editor– often with a symptom of publishing small spelling errors.
-3- He is reinventing Hollywood from Dallas. The independent film industry has been dying an ever slow death. Effen Cuban’s sweet spot is tweaking broken models. HD is no different. 2929 Studio is no different.
Early into this model reinvention game Cuban, has already had a major hit, “Inside Enron.”
-4- Silicon Valley admires entrepreneurs who do not get screwed after selling the company. Mark shorted Yahoo stock AFTER he sold Broadcast.com to protect the sale price of his company. Had he not done that and held on to Yahoo stock, Broadcast.com would have been sold for $200mm (vs $5.7B).
-5- Mentorship society at every owner meeting. The NBA owners meet up during the ALL-Star break and during the off-season. Often times, Mark is tapped to do presentations on how technology is to be used and embraced by owners. I am guessing that at every interaction (including ours at RedHerring, TechCrunch50, Cubs game), Mark learns as much as the people he is presenting to and interacting with.
-6- Silicon Valley loves mavericks. Top Gun had a pilot played by Tom Cruise whose character was named Maverick. Cuban cites mentors who are cliche, prototypical mavericks.
At Tony Perkins’ RedHerring’s “Venture Conference,” Mark Cuban cited Dennis Rodman and Paris Hilton as people who could work a media party like no other. Mark went against the grain of the room and was right. The general consensus was that Paris Hilton’s 15 minutes of fame were almost up, but Cuban strongly disagreed. Cuban was right cuz Paris is still a hot media property. Since me, Mark and Paris all use Sidekicks, I might have to host a Sidekick Twitter Party.
-7- Cuban can actually make money from bad fortune. Silicon Valley loves a CEO that can wrestle success. Fortunes ebb and flow. Mark thinks that when failure stares you in the face and puts you in a hole, “You dig in your heels and dig yourself out.”
A lighthearted example of this is when Mark was fined by the NBA after his comment that some NBA referees are not even qualified to manage a ‘Dairy Queen’ ice cream store. After paying the fine, Cuban served soft-serve cones and got major ESPN coverage.
A heavy example is when Cuban remembers, “Renee Hardy stealing $80k of AP money from MicroSolutions.” He realized she was whiting out checks and adding her name to siphon off money. Mark dug his heels in and committed to making payroll.
-8- “Now coming outta retirement.” Force me outta retirement with the perfect project please!”… This is the Silicon Valley wet-dream.
Entrepreneur John Dough (yes I intentionally misspelled “Doe”) is in the formation holding pattern called, “one hit wonder.” Yes, he is working as a VC, working 25 hours per week, taking 9 weeks of vacation, an LP (limited partner) on thirteen funds and not making any carry on Sand Hill Road.
He gets written up on GigaOm post about ‘Nine VCs You Don’t Wanna Meet‘ and is generally in hell. His DREAM dream DREAM is to get called out of this ‘retirement.’
Mark describes his post-sale-situation, “Before my co-founders pitched me on Broadcom, I was drinking beer, visiting countries and retired (from money I made from selling MicroSolutions). Mark, to quote Sarah Lacy, “Once you are lucky, Twice you are good“.
-9- Cuban gets to manage, develop and promote the best talent in the world. He took startup management skills with an eye for fixing a broken model/ org when he turned around the Mavericks.
-10- Cuban works the Party. I have seen him work the fringes of the room, the center of the room and break up rockpiles. At the Cubbie Bear after the Cubs game, Cuban said hi to no fewer than 100 people. Stanleys and Gamekeepers were two quick stops where Cuban worked another 100 or so Cubs fans.
His effort to work a party’ is a direct effort to woo a city into loving him and his intention to explore the possibility of buying the best brand in all of baseball: the Chicago Cubs.
- BONUS -
Cuban Gets Great Deal Flow. Who lead generates hot Stanford, GSB, future-founders at a tech event?! Cuban. I wrangled him at the Norton Anti-Virus Party at Temple where he got to meet talent and was great at getting the read on who was hot and who was not. Outside of one poor character compass read with a VC associate, his time allocation was spot-on (according to my character compass and entrepreneurial algorithm. See source code at TheDatingReport.com)
He angel invests and gets great deal flow. Cuban does not get Roelof Botha like deal flow, but definitely has more access than fellow billionaire/quasi-VC Pierre Omidyar.
Bonus observations. He works a conference like a tier one celebrity rising.
1) worked the techCrunch event without a buffer,
2) Kissed other “alpha” ass. I heard him say to Brian Solis, “oh yeah, I heard about you. GREAT to meet you.
3) Was gracious with people’s picture requests
4) asked ONE personal question (or two) per person. Mark asked me after seeing my iPhone sticker, “So what does Duck9 do?”
5) Developed an entourage on-the-fly.
NOTE: THE PIC IS USED WITH PERMISSION OF BRIAN SOLIS
(yes, I did snap the pic but with Brian’s camera)
Yes I was the DP on my own shots D.P. Director of Photography. http://bub.blicio.us/
You can read more equally funny, founder-focused-lessons onLarry’s Amazon blog.