There is always that individual who views business ideas from that pessimistic point of view. There will likely be reactions like that’s a dumb idea, or those that only identify the things that may go wrong and the same applies to startups that eventually evolve to multibillion dollar companies.
A typical example from Mark Cuban is Broadcast.com which pioneered audio streaming and made its founder a billionaire. Broadcast.com was already a top streaming company in 1995 when Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner took over the company. Streaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix owes its flourishing business to the vision of broadcast.com.
Broadcast.com was not only the first of its kind; it existed at a time when the boom currently being enjoyed off the internet was absent. The implication was that it was met with skepticism. According to Mark Cuban while speaking on CBS’S “Sunday Morning”: “There was nobody doing it….People thought I was an idiot.” Cuban’s current net worth according to Forbes estimate is around $4.6 billion.
Cuban and in his friend Wagner decided to invest in AudioNet in 1995 at time when Cuban was worth around the $2 million which he received as proceeds from the sale of MicroSolutions, his first tech company. Cuban and Wagner invested in AudioNet so as to listen to the live broadcast of Indiana University’s college basketball team. The streaming company AudioNet later evolved into Broadcast.com.
Broadcast.com operations involved picking up audio content via satellite, digitizing it and then disseminating it online. This service was subsequently expanded to cover other live events.
Within four years of this investment, broadcast.com got validated as the company was acquired by Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion in stock.
Due to the explosion that accompanied the dot-com boom around this period, Yahoo could not continue the startups streaming services after a few years, and it was discontinued. Cuban was however visionary as he was fortunate to sell off his stock before the market crash that followed.
Something big emerged from the rubble of this market crash. “The high-profile deal helped put digital streaming on the map, [It’s] the origin story of streaming,” Cuban told CBS.
In retrospect the uncertainties and disbelieve that surrounded online audio and video streaming was not strange in 1995. It was around this same period that the famous interview on CBS where Bill Gates, Microsoft cofounder attempted unsuccessfully to explain the potentials of the internet to David Letterman.
The same reception was given to Cuban for AudioNet and broadcast.com as it was almost unbelievable that the internet or streaming industry would one day be the norm globally. His ideas were met with mostly mockery because streaming was an unrealistic alternative then. It is ironic how the conventional media options especially television and radio which seemed irreplaceable have had their popularity shrink in comparison.
As originally reported in (https:www.cnbc.com/2023/01/15/mark-cuban-on-broadcastcom-streaming-people-thought-i-was-an-idiot.html)