People care a lot what Mark Cuban thinks about bitcoin. In June 2017, the billionaire Mavericks owner and Shark Tank investor made headlines for a series of tweets in which he said that the cryptocurrency was “in a bubble.” Those comments apparently caused a five percent dip in bitcoin’s value—a market fluctuation he said proved his point. “You know it’s a bubble when a random twitter thread bounces the price,” he subsequently tweeted.
Cuban, 60, was branded a bitcoin skeptic, though later in the year he revealed that he had bought a “relatively small” amount of the cryptocurrency. Since the “bubble” tweets, he’s also backed 1confirmation, a new venture capital fund for crypto-related investments, and esports gambling startup Unikrn, which raised about $31 million through an ICO last year. And in January, he announced to much fanfare that beginning in the 2018-19 season, the Mavericks will be one of the first NBA teams to accept crypto in exchange for tickets and merchandise.
BREAKER recently emailed with Cuban about the 3 B’s: bitcoin, blockchain, and basketball. He also gave us a hint of what’s to come on Season 10 of Shark Tank.
In June 2017, you were called a skeptic when you tweeted that bitcoin was “in a bubble,” but you seem to have come around to cryptocurrency. What changed?
I was always a fan of the blockchain and said so. I just explained that [I was a fan of blockchain] to people and told them I took a flyer and bought some bitcoin and Ether. Nothing really changed.
This coming season, the Mavericks will accept crypto in exchange for tickets and merchandise. Why was it important to make this move?
To find out if there was a market of crypto owners that wanted to use them as currency.
What do you suspect the answer will be?
We will sell a few tickets, but not that many.
The crypto mining company AntPool just entered into a sponsorship agreement with the Houston Rockets. What do you make of this milestone deal?
I think it’s great. I think the biggest sponsorship market is with companies that have done ICOs and want to create transactional opportunities for their tokens. That is where we are looking. Once our payment gateway is robust enough, we will be able to take tokens from anyone as payment.
How long do you think it will be before a cryptocurrency billionaire buys a sports franchise?
It won’t be for a while. Converting billions of crypto to cash will move the market too dramatically.
You backed the esports gambling startup Unikrn. The coin’s price has since plummeted. Do you feel burned?
No. I have no idea what any tokens I purchased trade for. I bought them for the utility, not to speculate.
What do you make of the concept of tokenizing athletes via the blockchain, which would allow people to invest in promising talent?
Hate it is not strong enough a term. It’s been tried before, and blockchain doesn’t solve the problems that killed it in the past.
What long-term impact will blockchain innovation have on pro sports?
I think it can be of huge benefit for personal medical records of players—allowing players to control access, but also enabling them to take [records] with them throughout their lives.
“If you’re a true adventurer and you really want to throw the Hail Mary, you might take 10 percent and put it in bitcoin or Ethereum,” you said last fall in a video guide on how to get rich. Any additional advice for potential crypto investors?
Valuations are incredibly volatile. I think that will continue until we start to see blockchain applications become mainstream and consumers have a better understanding [of it].
Are there any blockchain projects on the upcoming season of Shark Tank?
There is at least one. The show starts October 7 on ABC. Stay tuned!
This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity. Photo courtesy ABC/Eric McCandless