Mark Cuban is the man. Charismatic, intelligent and every little kid’s dream – the basketball fan who grew up to own the team. At BlogWorld Expo, however, Cuban addressed attendees not as the Mav’s owner, nor as the Dancing with the Stars participant; instead, Cuban’s intro slide read “Mark Cuban: Blogger.” Blogger, really? Not billionaire, or chairman of HDNet, or even Guinness Book of Records holder for the "largest single e-commerce transaction" ($40 million) for his Gulfstream V jet? Nope. Blogger. A regular guy just like.. you and me?
Cuban began blogging in 2004 in an effort to correct a misquote in the Dallas morning news. Since then, his blog has grown to phenomenal popularity, covering diverse topics ranging from technology to the NBA – but always written with classic Cuban honesty, and often, some Cuban sizzle (in 2006 he was fined $100,000 by the NBA for being critical of the league’s selection of playoff officials, and for including tips on how improve playoff officiating).
His keynote at Blogworld lived up to his lofty resume and kept us all both laughing and taking notes on his insights. Ill talk about a few here, but if interested someone filmed the whole thing and you can check it out here.
Mark spent a fair amount of time talking about blogger's decisions to monetize their blogs, and the effects of such on their autonomy and credibility. He argued that ads cheapen blogs by detracting focus from the content - and, you are responsible to support your advertisers. "Personally, [said Mark] my blog has no advertising, because i want to be free to pick on everyone." In reference to bloggers who "sell themselves to an aggregator" or write on behalf of a company, Cuban advised that "it is not easy to be brutally honest when you have a boss." Well said Mark
As a caveat, however, Cuban cautioned against what he called the "FU Post." "Blogs are forever" - whatever you post will live on for eternity, so be careful what you say. "What you write is going to brand you for years to come. I'm not saying muzzle yourself, but be careful." Cuban, always self aware, ended his remarks on the subject with a reality check. "I can say stuff - I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I can sit up here and not care. I have more money than you!"
Cuban’s keynote at Blogworld Expo was clearly the highlight of the event. In other news, Mike Arrington of Techcrunch and Om Malik failed to attend the panels where they were listed as speakers, and many fewer attendees than advertised appeared to be present. In fact, when I arrived at the event, an organizer informed me that there were 1200 people present. However, at Mark’s keynote, I counted less than 400 in the crowd. Perhaps even more interesting was that at the beginning of his speech, Mark asked for a show of hands from bloggers, corporate bloggers, and then those who were there to sell stuff to bloggers (whom he diplomatically referred to as ‘those in the business of blogging’). I’d say the breakdown was something like 30/100/everyone else. So.. blogging conference. No bloggers. Hmmm.
It was puzzling to me to understand why bloggers didn’t think it was worth there time/money to attend this event. The organizers of the conference managed to pull together a pretty impressive panel, it was in Vegas, and everyone and their mom had a booth at the tradeshow. Thoughts?
Oh and, as a side note… Mark and I are now Facebook friends. Awesome.