Mark Cuban says this was always his ‘driving motivation’—and it’s not money

Becoming a billionaire means caring a lot about making money, right?

Wrong, says Mark Cuban.

As Cuban built the tech companies in the 1990s that would eventually make him exorbitantly wealthy, he never prioritized personal riches, he told GQ on Wednesday. “I never, ever thought in terms of money,” he said.

Instead, Cuban said his “driving motivation” was something else entirely. “I always thought in terms of time,” he said. “That’s always been my driving motivation: How can I control my own destiny? How can I control my own time?”

A 2018 Harvard Business School study found that placing a higher value on your own time over money typically results in greater overall wellbeing and increased happiness. Cuban, of course, managed to accrue plenty of both: He currently has an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Initially, when Cuban sold his first company MicroSolutions to CompuServe for $6 million, he never thought he’d have to work again, he told GQ.

“What it bought me was freedom,” Cuban added, saying he saved most of his proceeds from the sale so he could live at his own pace without worrying about future employment. When he did spend, he spent on traveling with friends and “partying like a rock star,” he said.

Five years later, Cuban’s college friend Todd Wagner convinced him to get involved in an online streaming service so they could listen to Indiana University basketball games from where they lived in Texas. That service became, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion in stock.

The Yahoo stock was highly valuable at the time, and if Cuban was feeling greedy, he could have held onto it in the hopes of cashing out for more money down the road. Instead, he told GQ, he was happy with the money he’d earned in the deal and had a feeling the stock market was overpriced. He sold most of his Yahoo stock just months before the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, and the company’s share price plummeted.

“It taught me a hell of a lesson: When you just chase dollars, it never works out well,” Cuban said.

From there, Cuban went about spending his money in ways that made him happy, including buying his hometown Dallas Mavericks in 2000. Cuban’s first purchase after becoming a billionaire, though, was to pay $40 million for a Gulfstream V private business jet. 

“Why’d I want a plane?” Cuban asked GQ. “Because the most valuable asset you can ever own is your time. And the one thing I can do is save time and get to places, and it was f—ing amazing.”

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Sophie Tremblay

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