Why Mark Cuban admires Elon Musk (even though he can be ‘full of himself’)


Everybody has an opinion on Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Some, like Charlie Munger, don’t agree with his methods, but others are fans of his brash entrepreneurial spirit. Count fellow billionaire Mark Cuban in the latter category.

“I like Elon Musk,” Cuban told The New York Post in a story that published on Saturday. ”He can be full of himself sometimes, but he is the only entrepreneur in my lifetime that truly takes on projects that most people would be afraid to even try, and [he] makes them work.”

Take Musk’s private aerospace company, SpaceX, which, for the first time on May 30, sent NASA astronauts into orbit. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, has described Musk’s drive as “aggressive,” especially when it comes to a project’s timeline.

“First of all, when Elon says something, you have to pause and not immediately blurt out, ‘Well, that’s impossible,’ or, ‘There’s no way we’re going to do that. I don’t know how,'” Shotwell said in a 2018 TED talk. “So you zip it, and you think about it, and you find ways to get that done.”

To Cuban, that kind of trait is a positive. “The guy is a machine who gets things done and seems to have some fun along the way,” Cuban said. “I admire that.”

This isn’t the first time that Cuban has been complimentary to Musk. Cuban has previously compared Musk to the late Apple founder Steve Jobs and Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.

And after a strange 2018 Tesla earnings call, in which Musk called analysts’ questions “boring” and “boneheaded,” Cuban defended him.

“It’s okay for [a CEO] to have an attitude,” Cuban told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” in May 2018. “You don’t have to be vanilla all the time — that’s just life.”

Cuban added that he respects Musk as a founder who “puts his heart out there,” as well as his finances, in order to get ahead, he said on “Squawk Alley.”

“You know, people respect Elon Musk for his genius, but you have to really respect him because he puts every cent that he has on the line,” he said. (For instance, Musk used money he made from the sale of PayPal to start SpaceX in 2002. As of February, before the NASA launch, the company was valued at about $36 billion. And Musk reportedly initially invested $6.3 million in Tesla in 2004. Today the electric car company has a $178 billion market cap, and in May, Musk earned $775 million via an incentive-based payout.)

That said, Cuban doesn’t approve of everything that Musk does. For example, during Tesla’s Q1 earnings call in April, Musk called the Covid-19 stay-at-home orders “fascist” and unconstitutional.

“Anything that negatively impacts Tesla, Elon hates, period, end of story,” Cuban said on “Fox News @ Night.” “I don’t think he has other people’s interests at heart. I mean, I don’t really know him at all, but that’s just my take.”

A representative for Musk did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment. 

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