Stansberry Radio Interview Series: Mark Cuban: The Three Big Trends You Should Be Watching
Welcome back to the Stansberry Radio Interview Series.
As you know, every Saturday, the Stansberry Radio Network brings you the most valuable ideas from the most intriguing guests from all of our shows.
This week, James Altucher interviews his longtime friend Mark Cuban.
Mark is the owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks, one of ABC’s “Sharks” on the hit show Shark Tank, and an investor in an ever-growing portfolio of businesses.
Below, I’ve taken the liberty of excerpting a few of my favorite takeaways from the show, including:
- How to keep your text messages private
- What Mark’s looking for in a Shark Tank contender
- Which three industries could boom next
Mark Cuban is an authentic, inspiring voice… Don’t miss what he has to say…
The Stansberry Radio Network
Originally aired on the James Altucher Show, June 13, 2014
James Altucher: I’m here with Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Mark, how’s it going?
Mark Cuban: It’s going great, James. How are you doing?
Altucher: Good, Mark, and it’s great to catch up with you. Before we jump into your newest venture, Cyber Dust, I wanted to ask you about what happened with your SEC case and how these two tie together.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen the SEC defeated so harshly in court. And it leads to an Internet idea that put you face-to-face with Snapchat. Why don’t you describe Cyber Dust and how it relates to your SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] case?
Cuban: One of the things that happened was, obviously, they [the SEC] subpoenaed everything that I have. I’ve got all these messages sent with the CEO and others of Mamma.com, and everything I said, they were more than happy to take out of context – or everything I wrote, rather. Whether it was a message or a blog post, they tried to apply their own context.
When it was all said and done and I kicked their ass, it got me thinking that every message that I was sending via text, the minute I hit send, I no longer owned. I didn’t own the text, but I still owned the responsibility for what I said or what some people could turn what I said into, and the people I send it to really took control of that message. That didn’t sit well with me. Because of my experience with the SEC, it seemed like a good idea to create a new messaging app called Cyber Dust.
You have to have Cyber Dust on both sides, and if I send a message to you James, it’ll be on the server till you open it or for 24 hours, whichever comes first. If you don’t open it in 24 hours, it’s deleted. But once you open it, you have 30 seconds to read it. Then once you’ve read it, it’s deleted from the memory of your device, your phone, and it’s also deleted from the memory of the server, never to be seen ever again.
There’s no metadata, there’s no ancillary data, there’s no record of it. We were so concerned about security and metadata that we don’t even allow your message to touch a hard drive. It’s stored on the server, waiting for you to open it – not on a hard drive. So if someone came in and confiscated our servers, the minute that electricity gets turned off, your message is gone forever.
Altucher: The name “Cyber Dust” feels a little old school though with the word “cyber.”
Cuban: Yeah, no question it does, and it’s retro in some respects, but like anything else – you know, Twitter, what the hell does that mean, right? Snapchat. WhatsApp. You pick a name. There’s no such thing as a good URL that’s going work no matter what. Everything kind of sounds cheesy until it works, so hopefully people will look at Cyber Dust in a couple of years and go, “Yeah, that makes sense.” [Laughs] But I like one-inch names, and even though it’s retro, it tells you exactly what it is. It’s an app that, 30 seconds after you open a message, it disappears forever. It’s gone for good into the cyber. It’s dust into the cyber, hence Cyber Dust.
We can’t control our friends or business associates or the acquaintances we come across, and when you send a text to any of them, they own that text. When you send a business text, you no longer own it. Somebody else owns it. When I send a text, somebody else owns it.
Now, the first thought is, “Well, I don’t send anything that bad, so why should I care?” Well, that’s exactly what I thought with the SEC. I turned over everything that I had to the SEC voluntarily. In my first conversations with the SEC, I didn’t even have a lawyer ’cause I knew I had done nothing wrong. But they wanted a scalp, and so they created their own context. And it’s worse today with social media.
Altucher: So did they try to come to you and say, “Listen, we can make this all go away. Just give us $300 million”?
Cuban: Yeah, right? I wouldn’t even have that conversation. Would not. Because I’d done nothing wrong, and I’m blessed in that I could afford to deal with it, and they were just so scuzzy and nasty that it just gave me great pride to be able to nail ’em, [laughs] to use a nice term.
Altucher: I sort of feel like every time you open your mouth, Mark, in the public, somebody jumps on you. And that, in general, it seems to happen on the Internet. As beautiful as the Internet is for unifying voices from around the world, there’s also this thing that I call “outrage porn,” where someone like you will say something and then five articles will say, “Mark Cuban’s a racist,” and then it just spreads like wildfire. It’s like just pornography for the masses.
Cuban: You know, I call it “headline porn,” and I love your word, “outrage porn,” ’cause it starts with headline porn and turns into outrage porn, and you’re exactly right. To me, kind of the bigger take away from that is we’ve got to start shrinking our digital footprint.
Another one of my software products that just came out a couple days ago is called Xpire. It’s just available on the iPhone store right now. But we’ll get to other platforms as well. The whole concept is, you have to shrink your digital footprint because what you said six days ago, six months ago, or two or three or five or six years ago, who knows how that’s going to be received at some point in the future?
What Xpire does is several things. First, it’s a client for Twitter that allows you to set an expiration time for your tweets. So if I want a tweet to expire in one minute, five minutes, one hour, one day, or several months and soon, a year, you can set that tweet to expire. If I want to go back and do a keyword search across all my tweets to see if I’ve said something two years ago that I don’t recall and I don’t want out there, I can do a keyword search. If I want to go back and look at my tweets, there’s some limitations – Twitter’s got a limit of 3,200 tweets that we can go back to, and we’re working through some workarounds for that, but anything that’s within the past 3,200 tweets I can go back through and delete one by one, which is exactly what I’ve been doing on my account. The goal is to shrink that digital footprint.
Now, why would you want to do it? Again, because whatever you say can and will be used against you if people get that opportunity. That’s your outrage porn, and I think beyond that, people are going to take – marketers, law enforcement, government agencies, you name it – are going to be able to look at your digital profile and know more about you than you know about yourself. They’re going to be able to look at all your tweets, your retweets, your follows, your favorites, your Pinterest posts, your Pinterest pins, your Tumblr posts and reposts, your Facebook posts and likes. You take all that across your entire social media spectrum, and that creates a psychographic profile of you that says more about you, if you’re an active social media user, than what your family knows or you know about yourself.
And if you don’t want to open yourself up to all those different elements – I mean, it’s a certainty that if you’re applying for a job with me, I’m looking at all your social media profiles. And it’s going to influence my decision about you. It’s not just, “Did you put up a silly picture on Facebook when you were drunk?” I don’t care about that, but who you follow, what you follow, who you tweet, retweet, what you Pin and post, it tells me what you’re into, and if you tell me you’re into A and everything about you says you’re into B, well, that incongruency is going to make a difference in whether or not I hire you.
Altucher: Well, what if somebody deletes everything, though, and you say, “Look, you said you were into A. Why’d you have to hide everything?”
Cuban: Well, if you make it as a course of action to say, “You know what? It’s not about you; it’s about everybody. I don’t want to be stereotyped. I don’t want to be pigeonholed based off of my social media because I use social media in one way and it doesn’t really reflect who I am,” then okay, I’m buying that. Or if it’s just, “I don’t trust how people can take advantage of my social media. It’s just like I delete my cookies or I clean up my cookies on my browser and I delete my search history.” It’s not like I care if I see my search history. You just never know where that’s going to end up. I think people understand that there is a need – people have their own certain need for privacy – and I don’t think that’ll be a problem.
Altucher: Mark, before I let you go I have to ask, what do you think is the next wave? All these things come in waves. What do you think people should be looking at now, public and private?
Cuban: Specific companies – you know, it raises a different question in terms of the public companies. The stock market has gotten so complex, I don’t think anybody really knows what makes it tick… There’s half as many stocks today, public companies, as there were in 1995. There’s so many dollars chasing fewer companies, so there’s no real surprises. It’s really hard to find undervalued companies. It’s hard to find shorts. It’s a much more difficult market… There used to be certain rules. Now there are no rules. So in terms of what I look for, I gear more towards private companies.
I’m interested in sensors, because I think we’re getting away from typing in things to get a response. I think we’re gearing towards, “Here’s my heart rate. Tell me what I need” – and it’ll automatically tell me what I need to know.
I’ve got a company, Motionloft. It counts people – as you’re walking down the street, it tells the retailer what they need to know or the commercial leasing organization what they need to know. I think the days of us typing something into Google and figuring out what we need a response for are starting to slow down…
Secondary to that is personalized medicine. I think we’re not there yet, but we’re going to be able to come up with personalized solutions to medical illnesses and basic things as well – congestion, you know, in your throat or nose or whatever it may be, to the point that when your kids have kids, they’ll say, “Grandpa James, was it true that you guys bought over-the-counter medicines and everybody bought the same kind of medicine? You bought something like – what was it called – Sudafed? And y’all bought aspirin?” And you’ll say, “Yeah,” and they’ll say, “That’s so barbaric.” And you’ll say, “Yeah, it was then, too. They even had warning labels that said, ‘You might be the one unlucky shmuck that dies from this.’ But we didn’t have any choices. Now, you go in, they take a little prick of your blood, and through your skin, they give you a solution to whatever’s wrong.” I think that’s the course we’re going on.
The third thing that I’m looking at right now, obviously, with Xpire and Cyber Dust, are privacy elements. It’s not just the NSA. It’s not just government agencies, but I think between sensors, between video cameras, between audio recorders, between our profiles that are everywhere – heck, the pictures we save on Box and Dropbox and Google Drive and whatever, that is creating a profile of us that we’re all going to be very concerned about being public and being used to sell to us or being used for other purposes, like I mentioned earlier, employment, school, whatever it may be. And so I think privacy is rapidly becoming an issue we all need to address. So those are –
Altucher: I like the idea of reducing a digital footprint. We all spend too much time being connected anyway as opposed to face-to-face. Like, it sort of returns back to natural…
Cuban: Right, that’s actually one of my Shark Tank themes. So I did LA Haunted Hayride and I did Rugged Race because people want entertainment to make them put their devices down. You’re exactly right.
Altucher: Yeah, and I think we should – just in terms of human psychology, it’s how we’re evolutionary beings, not cyber beings, so it could be a return to that.
Cuban: I can’t disagree with that at all. I think that’s a great theme, and it’s just a question of who does it best.
Altucher: Well, Mark, once again, I really appreciate the time you took to come onto the podcast. Hope to have you on again…
Cuban: I appreciate it, James. I enjoy your writing. Keep it up. Your blog posts are great. I always learn something.
Altucher: Thanks, Mark. Thanks a lot. I’ll talk to you soon.
Cuban: You got it. Thank you.
Crux note: James and Mark have been corresponding for over 15 years on a variety of topics… many of which they discuss in today’s full interview, including:
- The secret of finding your passion
- How Mark turned $1 million into $20 million
- How Mark knew when to pull the trigger on his Yahoo stock
- How Mark values a basketball team