Why Mark Cuban is focusing his time—and money—on coronavirus relief

The entrepreneur, investor, and Dallas Mavericks owner speaks with "Fortune" CEO Alan Murray about his efforts to soften the effects of the coronavirus.


Mark Cuban explains why he feels the need to put so much energy into furthering coronavirus relief on Alan Murray's "Leadership Next" podcast. John Lamparski—Getty Images

“I’m rich.” 

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“I’m rich.” 

That’s Mark Cuban’s answer when asked why he is paying all hourly employees their regular wages despite the Dallas Mavericks’ home arena being closed, along with the entire NBA, as a result of the coronavirus

“It’s not going to cost me nearly as much as it would cost the hourly employees to go without,” the Mavericks owner, Shark Tank investor, and serial entrepreneur said. 

On the latest episode of Fortune CEO Alan Murray’s Leadership Next podcast, Cuban explains how and why he is stepping up to help health care workers, small businesses, employees, and the government get through the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crash

As a CEO or entrepreneur, Cuban said, if you can afford to keep paying your employees, you should, simply because it’s the right thing to do. And if you can’t afford it, prioritize clear communication to explain why you’re taking the steps you are to get to the other side of the crisis.

In the stimulus bill agreed upon early Wednesday morning by the Senate and President Donald Trump, there are provisions for small businesses that Cuban has been following closely, as he invests in over 150. He said it is every CEO’s responsibility to be up to date on legislation like this in order to usher their companies through tough financial times. 

“As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to be up to speed,” he said. “Not just to yourself, not just to your bank account, but to each and every one of your employees and stakeholders. It’s your job, nobody else’s.”

He also said he wants the support bill to pass sooner rather than later to perhaps avoid some layoffs, coronavirus cases, and deaths. The bill Trump agreed to with the Senate isn’t perfect, according to Cuban, but it will do. It now must be passed in both the House and the Senate before it reaches the President’s desk.

“Any deal that ends the bleeding in this particular case and gets money in people’s hands so they feel a little sense of control and stability, that’s a good thing,” he said. 

Cuban has also been taking to Twitter recently to voice his opinions on the coronavirus crisis, criticizing companies like 3M, which produces the N95 respirator masks that have been in short supply around the world owing to the pandemic.

“They could have come out and talked to America about the supply chain, about the industry, about where the masks are going, and how we’re going to get through this,” he said. “Instead they were silent besides saying, ‘We’re making as many masks as we can.’ To me that’s just wrong.” 

He said the lack of information perpetuated by 3M leads to price gouging, which is being seen globally as hospitals and consumers alike frantically search for masks

On top of paying the Dallas arena workers, staying informed for his businesses and employees, and voicing his opinions on the crisis, Cuban has also been working with the Small Business Administration and helping Dallas-area first responders along with Mavericks players. 

When Murray asks him why he feels compelled to do these things on top of his many day jobs, Cuban asks, “Why wouldn’t I? If I can contribute, if I can help, if I can set an example, why wouldn’t I?” 

As he focuses on righting whatever COVID-19-caused injustices that he can, he said that getting the Mavericks arena seats filled for games is pretty low on the totem pole. He does hope to have games played in empty arenas, available to stream, by mid-May or June, though. 

“Right now we need sports. We need sports really, really bad,” he said. “We have nothing to cheer for. We have nothing to rally for, we have no communal excitement that we can all get behind our team. So even if we play in front of nobody, but the games are on TV and we stream them, the energy and the excitement and the release and the cheering, that’ll serve such a unique purpose that only sports can serve.”

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