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Mark Cuban vs. The SEC

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If there is anyone who is representative of all the potential, all the excess and all the celebrity that the Internet economy has offered up to this point, it’s Mark Cuban. His flamboyant style keeps him in the news in one way or another and his mounds of cash from the sale of Broadcast.com to Yahoo! during the first internet gold rush has allowed him to live a life that most can only dream of (if that’s your sort of thing). Well, today that dream life may be looking more like a nightmare as the SEC investigates charges of insider trading by Mr. Cuban.

Today’s front page of the Wall Street Journal features Cuban in his classic “I can’t believe that idiot referee just made that call against my team and I will have his head on a platter” pose. Are there any other pictures of this guy out there other them him pitching a hissy fit on the sidelines of an NBA game? His less than adult behavior has helped him ring up more than $2 million in fines during his tenure as the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Considering his wealth that is just ‘throw around’ money but still why couldn’t he just feed some hungry kids rather than acting like one.

It appears that his impetuous nature has garnered him the 2 words that may actually be worse than ‘IRS audit’ and those are ‘SEC investigation’. Yikes, aren’t there usually big fines and jail time associated with those things? All of this stems from a 6% stake in Mamma.com which was sold by Mr. Cuban following some information that was given to him by the company’s CEO, Guy Faure. The details seem to be many but the one that stands out is the arrogance of this guy and his handlers. His lawyer, Christopher Clark had this to say:

We’re shocked. We find it incredible that with all the important issues that the SEC has to address with regards to today’s economy they’ve sought to bring a $750,000 case relating to a he-said, she-said about one trade against a person whose integrity has never been questioned before with regard to the securities markets.

Funny how he needed to qualify how Mr. Cuban’s integrity has never been questioned about the securities markets because it is questioned everywhere else due to his childish antics. Granted, the details seem a bit sketchy and the case may be one that doesn’t deserve this kind of attention but this guy thrives on attention. In his case, is online reputation monitoring or any type of reputation monitoring needed because nothing is secret with him? At what point does the persona end and the person begin? It will be interesting to see if this dings Mr. Cuban in any way since he has recently suffered some embarrassment about publically stating his desire to buy the Chicago Cubs but apparently not being able to raise the money he said he could.

So what’s the internet marketing angle? I would say it’s more of an internet angle in general. You need to be careful about what you put out there at any level because people are watching. Attitudes and actions are now monitored at a level unheard in modern times. I suspect that Mr. Cuban should have taken the more relaxed attitude he displayed on his blog last summer when he wrote:

Is there anything more fun than sitting around, growing your hair, drinking a Bud while listening to Jethro Tull and pondering how to change the balance of power in the search world and unseat Google?

Uh, Mark? This is reality checking in with you. Unseating Google appears to be the least of your concerns (and probably pretty far removed from reality). Maybe a few less alleged insider trading moves and some time off to try to exhibit some good behavior would be better?

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