By CCN.com: Mark Cuban was once so poor that he did not have the minimum $200 required to open a bank account. The billionaire investor revealed this shocker during a pitch session on a recent episode of “Shark Tank.” Though poverty was a lifetime ago for Cuban, the bitcoin skeptic who has since dabbled in crypto now has a net worth somewhere north of $4 billion. He clearly still feels a connection to his working-class roots, that is if his investment during the episode was any indication.
Cuban committed $500,000 to Spare, a fintech startup offering virtual ATM services to users without access to traditional banking services, much like him in a former life.
“When I was broke and sleeping on the couch, I couldn’t open up a bank account. You needed to have 200 bucks. You needed this, you needed that. They didn’t give me one.”
Usually, when the grass-to-grace story of a self-made billionaire is told, there is a need for a giant “Disclaimer!” to indicate at what point a wealthy uncle wrote a massive check. Fairytales don’t exist in real life, after all. In Cuban’s case, however, there is no part of the story that deviates from a genuine rags-to-riches tale.
Born to working-class parents in Pittsburgh, Penn., Mark Cuban did everything including reselling baseball stickers, stamps, and coins to make money during a childhood that held little promise for him. Those around him expected Cuban to go on to work in a mill or become a carpet-layer.
To his immense credit, he did not allow his inauspicious economic background to define the rest of his life. After making it through college in the 80s, Cuban eventually settled into a role where he worked with computers. From there, his life changed.
Speaking on an earlier episode of “Shark Tank”, Cuban said:
“When I got one of my first jobs out of school using technology, it was like, wait, I love this. I’ve taught myself the program, I could go seven hours, eight hours without taking a break thinking it was 10 minutes because I was concentrating so hard and so excited and really loved it. And that’s when I realized that I can be really, really good at technology.”
Mark Cuban would go on to set up a successful computer startup called MicroSolutions, which was acquired by CompuServe for $6 million in 1990. At this point, Cuban went into retirement reportedly purchasing a lifetime American Airlines pass and traveling the world for the next five years. That was until he set up Broadcast.com and got caught in the upward stampede of the dotcom bubble. Cuban accurately predicted that the dotcom boom would not last, so he set about optioning and liquidating most of the $5.7 billion Yahoo stock he received for Broadcast.com.
His story is strikingly similar to that of fellow billionaire Elon Musk. The Tesla CEO reportedly became personally insolvent in 2008 after investing all of the $180 million he made as an early PayPal investor into Tesla and SpaceX. CCN.com reported recently that Musk confirmed the story on Twitter, revealing that 2008 was “the worst year of his life.”
With Musk now worth an estimated $21 billion and Cuban worth about $4.1 billion, it is safe to say that it pays to take a risk sometimes.