Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is financing a new Web site that will investigate stock fraud and corporate wrongdoing. The billionaire also said he’ll buy and sell stocks based on information before the site publishes it.
Cuban said he has not been a direct victim of fraud but was motivated to start the site by his approach to investing.
“I’m a firm believer that out of (the more than 10,000) public companies the odds are that there are more than just a few crooks and frauds,” Cuban said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “Finding them can be rewarding and entertaining.”
Christopher Carey, a 17-year St. Louis Post-Dispatch staffer, said Sharesleuth.com will launch next month and also carry work from a network of stringers that will include burned investors.
Neither Carey nor Cuban would disclose how much he is investing in the site.
Cuban mentioned such a site two weeks ago in his own Web log, blogmaverick.com, although he didn’t mention it by name then. He faulted the mainstream media for failing to tell stories in a compelling, multimedia fashion.
Cuban believes stories from the Web site can be repackaged for his high-definition television networks, HDNet and HDNet Movies.
Cuban also said that he could use information that the site uncovers to buy and sell stock.
“A journalistic conflict you say?” he wrote on his blog on May 31. “Not any more. Not in this world.
“It will be fully disclosed and explained. This site is for the profit of its owners and we will buy and sell stocks that are discussed, before they are made available on the site ... If we can uncover companies whose stock is public and that can be bought or sold and that allows us to pay for more in depth research and effort. I’m good with that.”
Cuban, 47, made a fortune that Forbes magazine recently estimated at $1.8 billion by selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo Inc. in 1999. He bought the woeful Mavericks in 2000 and spent heavily to improve the roster. The team is on the brink of an NBA championship this week, and Cuban is soaking up the adoration of long-suffering Dallas fans.
Cuban’s interests go beyond hoops. He co-founded HDNet, and with his Broadcast.com partner Todd Wagner, he owns two movie-production companies — one made the Oscar-nominated “Good Night, and Good Luck” — a movie distributor and a chain of art theaters. He is threatening to shake up Hollywood by releasing movies simultaneously in theaters, on cable and DVD.
On his blog, Cuban writes frequently about other subjects from politics to movies to stock-trading. The media are a recurring theme.
Carey, a finalist for the Loeb Award, the highest honor in business journalism, for a series about securities boiler rooms, said he pitched the idea of a stock-fraud Web site after reading a Cuban blog in February.
“With newspapers getting increasingly locally focused, I thought maybe the best way to tell these stories, which tend to be national or international in scope, would be via the Internet and other multimedia,” Carey said. “I tossed it out as a general proposition, and he was interested.”
Carey, 45, who will leave the Post-Dispatch at the end of this week, said he doesn’t know what it will be like to work for Cuban, who sits next to the Mavericks’ bench during games, joins team huddles and screams at the referees.
Carey hasn’t even met his new boss. All their discussions have been by e-mail.