Mark Cuban has never been one to hold his tongue, but that tongue was really wagging Thursday at the UBS investor confab in Gotham.
The 2929 Entertainment topper questioned the digital wisdom of big media companies like News Corp. and Google the way he criticizes NBA refs.
Cuban didn’t agree with Google’s purchase of YouTube from the get-go, and at the confab, he amplified on his reasons: “It’s really, really easy to build a business if you can steal anything you want,” he declared.
While desirable videos have remained on the site, Cuban thinks that honeymoon can’t last. “People aren’t yanking their content because they want to see just how deep Google’s pockets go,” he said. Copyright holders will basically wait to see how much Google will pay, and then sue them if it’s not enough. Either way, it’ll cost Google.
Payouts could get so big that content providers will throw “Google party nights — because I got my check.”
Cuban has a few doubts about MySpace, too.
“MySpace hasn’t been overly commercial yet, but it will be,” he said. “At what point will kids realize, ‘My dad’s on there, my mom’s on there, I got to get out of there’?”
In fact, he wonders if the user-generated model is inherently incompatible with congloms. “If CBS is controlling how CBS content is used,” he said, “then it’s no longer a social network. It’s a corporate-distribution forum.”
Cuban’s outspokenness can rub people the wrong way, but some thought his comments a tonic after days of exec guardedness, especially when he urged the room packed with analysts and investors to stop circling the usual new-media companies. “Some kid out there has got the YouTube-MySpace killer. That’s where you gotta go.”