ONA 2006: Mark Cuban Says Former Employee an ‘Idiot’

Mark Cuban is nothing if not direct. FishbowlNY awhile back quoted a disgruntled employee talking about how HDNet, Cuban’s newish venture, was very “makeshift.” Cuban’s response to us at the Online News Association conference at the Capital Hilton in D.C.: The former employee was fired after one project, is “an idiot,” and “needs to get a life.”

As to the spit-and-glue image, he says, we should visit new employee Dan Rather‘s Manhattan offices. Rather, by the way, has “carte blanche,” Cuban says, to do whatever he wants there.

The surprisingly accessible Cuban gave the keynote address before we pigeon-holed him. (When we asked why he was giving everyone who asked free business advice, he said, “Why not?”) Some of his choice pointers from the keynote and Q&A:

  • Cuban looks at new magazines when he visits newsstands as a “leading indicator” of things of interest to people.

  • Look for what differentiates you from your competition.
  • It’s about consumers, not technology. The Internet is “old news.” Broadband is “old news.”
  • Marketing what you have, getting people to notice, “is the most difficult part of the equation.”
  • Newspapers should do lots of local video, from local events, and schools. “Second grade, I love it. First grade, I love it. Diaper change in the middle, I don’t care.”
  • The documentary about Enron by Cuban’s company, “Smartest Guys in the Room,” which was nominated for an Oscar, is not copy protected on DVD. “I’m not going to pay Macrovision [for protection] when some six-year-old can bust the code.”
  • Be careful to get the rights to video you show. You can be right 99.99 percent of the time, but if you get one thing wrong, “there’s no limit to the number of times you can be sued.”
  • He reads a suite of blogs (via RSS feeds on IceRocket), newspapers, trade magazines, but no one thing has any more value than any other.