Thursday, October 4, 2007

Typical slimy owner or Robin Hood?

In 2000, somehow I ended up working the nightshift at my job, 10-8, so I couldn't watch game 2 of the World Series. Then I remembered about a site called, where I streamed the game that featured the infamous bat toss by Clemens in the direction of Mika Piazza, and followed that up with Patrick Roy tying the NHL all time wins record. Mark Cuban founded, which was sold to Yahoo for $5.9 billion in stock.

His latest venture: a stock blog called The site is free and features no ads; it seems that the site is completely financed (and then some) by shorting stocks that plummet when the blog reveals accounting irregularities. For those of you that haven't seen Trading Places, the editor or this site, Chris Carey, looks into shading companies, Cuban basically borrows the stocks and sells them, Carey publishes his findings on Sharesleuth, the more people read the postings the more the stock plummets, and Cuban pays for the stocks he already sold at a lower value. Cuban told Wired that he made $150,000 off of shorting the stocks and then denied that figure.

So is this a public service he's doing, or is it "about as basic an ethical violation as there can be," "a real blot on the profession" of journalism? In each one of these articles or blogs I cite, Cuban responds by blasting print journalism. To Wired, he says "You pay for the newsprint and postage by selling ads for products that you know nothing about and hope they work. How is that working out for your industry these days?" I give credit to Cuban because at least his operation is transparent. Honestly, if you knew how some of these billionaires make their money, it would make your skin crawl. I first saw this story on Deadspin, accompanying a story about how the $795 million of public money going toward the new "privately financed" Yankees stadium is being spent. At least some good can come out of Sharesleuth taking down these overvalued companies; I don't see how the Yankees buying crystal baseballs with public funds benefits anyone.

No comments: