Mark Cuban still won’t admit he was wrong

In what has to be one of the most often-quoted comments about an Internet company, billionaire basketball-team owner Mark Cuban said in 2006 that “only a moron would buy YouTube.” Within a matter of months, of course, Google paid $1.65-billion for the company that Mark said would undoubtedly be “sued into oblivion.” And was YouTube sued into oblivion? No. So by my count, that means our billionaire media analyst has been wrong at least twice on the topic of YouTube.

So has the Dancing With The Stars hoofer ever admitted that he was wrong? Not on your life. In fact, he’s now telling Silicon Alley Insider that YouTube has only become a success because it started following his advice, which was to focus on legitimate content that could be monetized through advertising. But even in his email to Nicholas Carlson he gets YouTube and the true nature of its business wrong: he says that the user-generated content side of the company is probably “losing its ass” and that “If they get out of the UGC business, they actually would be profitable.”

As usual, Mark misses the point: the user-generated content — the video clips of startled hamsters and surprised panda bears and Charlie biting his brother’s finger — are exactly what draw the audiences that generate the pageviews that YouTube monetizes through ads on other content. As YouTube has described in a somewhat defensive post on its blog, the business is doing quite well now, thank you very much, despite repeated claims by people like Cuban that bandwidth costs and/or lawsuits would bankrupt the company. Don’t quit your day job, Mark.

21 thoughts on “Mark Cuban still won’t admit he was wrong

  1. The funny thing is that the example you used for “user generated content” IS a profitable one for YouTube. Look at Charlie Bit My Finger right now, they're serve ads next to it and have been for quite some time. Let's say YouTube monetized 1/4 of it's 100+ million views in the last year, you're still looking at property bigger than most of the blogs people are talking about.

    • That's a great point, Ryan — I knew there was a reason I chose that clip to mention (other than that my kids love it). So that makes me *twice* as right as Mark Cuban 🙂

  2. Please don’t lecture wildly successful Internet billionaires on what to do with their “day jobs” when you can’t decide which one is yours – running “the conversation” for a news organization that is supposed to be above conflicts of interest or co-owing a for-profit technology conference.

    But you’re still a super guy.

  3. Sorry–but, why do we think youtube is now a success? Because they made a blog post claiming it, while offering no substantial backup as to why those claims are true. I mean, come on. We still have no idea what their operating costs are, how much $$ they spend on content acquisition, what content actually generates click-thrus, etc. I don't see anything here that rises above the level of broad speculation.

    This myth is NOT busted.

  4. I'm waiting for the 10Q to come out on this one. I've been a YouTube skeptic. I'm still a bit dubious that just a couple months after the last 10Q which painted a less rosy picture of YouTube that things have really turned around so dramatically. Why won't Google share more data with us? Let's see how they characterize YouTube's performance when they have to file it with the SEC.

  5. Thanks for the post. I guess he will never admit that he was wrong) He is such a kind of man. Even if Yahoo become the most popular one, he will still be right! We cant remake him LOL

  6. LOL, yes, a man (Cuban) who always manages to spin something, after he puts his foot in his mouth. However, he does have a point, U Tube is one good lawsuit away from chaos.

  7. Why does anyone listen to what Mark Cuban says anyway? I have never understood why he was given “credibility” in the first place. I think it is possible that he is only reported on just to find these golden nuggets of him being wrong.

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