Few people know more about being a maverick than the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Internet billionaire Mark Cuban, who bought the team in 2000, has since cemented a reputation as the biggest mouth in the NBA. His courtside outbursts have cost him more than $1.6 million in fines, but he couldn't care less. "I base my decisions on what I think is right," he says, "without regard to what others may think about me."
It's an outlook that's worked well for Cuban. When the PC was hot in the 1980s, Cuban decided that the big money was in getting the machines hooked together -- a bet that netted him $2 million when he sold his first company, Micro Solutions, to CompuServe. In 1995, when the Web was just taking off, Cuban started streaming college sports online. He sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo (YHOO) in 1999 for $5 billion in stock, which he promptly diversified, predicting -- correctly -- that tech stocks were over-valued. And in 2001, when the future of high-definition television in America was still murky at best, he launched all-high-def, all-the-time network HDNet, which now boasts about 4 million subscribers.
So does Cuban deliberately tilt against the prevailing wind? "Absolutely," he says. "If other people are coming to the same conclusion as I am, I think, 'This is a business I shouldn't waste my time with.'"