Power Players

Mark Cuban on blockchain: 'It's like the early days of the internet' when 'a lot of people thought we were crazy'

Mark Cuban
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Self-made billionaire Mark Cuban says new innovations and companies will come out of the pandemic, creating an "America 2.0," as he calls it.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, as awful as it's been, I talked about companies that we're going to look back [on] in 10 or 15 years that were created" during this time, Cuban told Real Vision founder and CEO Raoul Pal in an interview published Feb. 9.

And according to Cuban, investor on ABC's "Shark Tank" and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, one of those things will be the evolution of blockchain technology and the companies that follow from it.

"What we're seeing right now with this communal effort and the foundation of blockchain-type applications that people stuck at home can use to try to make money ... just changed the game 180 degrees," he said.

If you don't understand blockchain, Cuban said, "it's going to smack you down and make you bleed."

Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that documents transactions, like cryptocurrency, and it's development reminds Cuban of the "early days of the internet."

"It's like the early days of the internet – brand new, no one really knows what it's going to be. [There's] a lot of projections," he said. "[W]hen we were starting AudioNet, that turned into Broadcast.com, I can't tell you how many times everybody said, 'Internet broadcasting? There's no chance. I don't need this internet craziness to do this.' A lot of people thought we were crazy."

In 1995, Cuban and a friend, Todd Wagner, started an internet radio company called Broadcast.com. Despite its naysayers, in 1999, Broadcast.com was acquired by Yahoo for $5.7 billion in stock, and in turn, made Cuban a very wealthy man.

Cuban pointed out that blockchain and internet companies, like his Broadcast.com, have similarities. "It's got the same feel of the early days of the internet."

For example, "it took time ... before bandwidth became available and cheap enough so that streaming and cord-cutting could really happen. That was 20 years into the internet, give or take, and we're only 10, 12 years into crypto after starting with bitcoin," he said.

So for other cryptocurrencies, like ether; transactional blockchain; or smart contracts, "there's a long way to go, and there will be a lot of companies that don't work, but you're going to get some winners!"

Cuban himself has recently auctioned digital goods online, including a Mavs Suns Game Day Experience video, via crypto tokens called an NFTs, or non‑fungible tokens.

"I put up some videos that the Mavs had done for sale," he said. "I sold them for a lot more than I expected to."

Mintable, the digital marketplace Cuban used to auction his digital goods, rewarded Cuban with "resale commission" to reflect his copyright ownership of the good, he said. "And when I saw that, I fell in love."

"That's what's been missing in the conveyance of all goods forevermore. Again, it's the same feeling of the early days of the internet."

The evolution of blockchain and digital goods are the future of business, according to Cuban.

"Now this is America 2.0. This is money 2.0. And I don't mean currency money, I mean being able to earn money via digital has all changed. The only thing we don't know is who are the Amazons and who are the Pets.coms," a pet food and supplies company that flopped after the dot-com bubble burst.

Although Cuban is unsure how long it'll take, or what companies will master blockchain, he is certain that "disruptors will win. We just don't know which or exactly how they'll win, but they'll win," he said.

"They always do. I don't see any horse and buggies. I don't see any CD manufacturers doing real well."

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

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